Can Publix Break Bills – Here’s How Much You Can Do

We’ve all been there: it’s right after Christmas or your birthday, and you have a large bill in your wallet. You can make a small purchase with a large bill and scramble for a solution. So, you start to ask, can Publix break bills?

Publix can break bills and there is no fee to do so. Bills $50 or lower are typically easy to exchange. The amount of cash available in the register ultimately determines how much can be exchanged.

You should be able to break your large bills at Publix, but don’t be upset if an employee turns you away. I’ll give you some tips on what to do if this happens, so don’t worry – you’ll be able to spend that money. Keep on reading!

5 Things To Know When Breaking Bills At Publix

Most times, you will be able to break a larger bill without a problem, but you should know a few things going into this. 

Not All Denominations Are Acceptable

Not all bills are accepted at stores.

When you have through a checkout line, you might have seen a sign that says, “No bills larger than X.” This could be $50 or $100. Some places will have it as low as $20.

Stores, including your local Publix, have these up for the following reasons:

  • Encouraging customers to pay with a card
  • The store has a change shortage
  • A rash of fake bills in the area
  • An attempt to combat fraud

Whatever the reason, an employee may be unable to break the bill you give them.

There Are Limits To How Often You Can Do It

Some stores limit how often you can break bills.

When I worked retail in a downtown store, I had a gentleman come in every Saturday morning to break a $1 bill to feed the meter. I knew him, so I always broke the bill.

Some stores are fickle when breaking bills, though you may not find a posted rule about this. 

Often, this rule is less about you and more about the money a store has on hand. Some stores limit how often they break larger bills so they do not end up with too many larger bills and not enough change for customers.

Most stores get change once or twice a week, so they need to hold over until the next delivery arrives to avoid a special trip to the bank.

You May Need To Make A Purchase

The store may ask that you purchase to break the bills.

Most employees cannot open a cash drawer without a manager’s override, which means they cannot break your bill without a purchase.

Be aware that if you are trying to break a $100, you may need to purchase to get any smaller bills. 

Employees Will Check Your Money To See If It Is Real

Employees will use a special pen or light to see if your bill is real.

I cannot tell you how many customers I have made a customer upset by checking if a bill is real, but most stores have a policy regarding this.

For some stores, employees must check all bills $20 and over. Other stores tell employees to check bills starting at $100. 

This is a store’s first line of fraud protection, and some stores are more serious than others. Some employees will have to pay fake bills out of their own paychecks!

Employees Can Refuse To Break Bills

Employees can refuse to break your bills, and you must understand.

Employees won’t only refuse to break bills because they think they are fake. Most reasons are much less serious than that:

  • The store just opened, so the employee has little chance to start the day
  • There is not enough cash in the drawer
  • The cashier is too busy to break the bill
  • You are in a credit-only line

Ways To Break Bills

If Publix cannot break your bill, you’re not completely out of luck. You can try some of these methods too.

Pay For Items In Cash

If the store accepts the bill, you are trying to break, purchase something and pay in cash.

The easiest way to break your bill is to pay in cash.

Make sure the bill isn’t too big to be accepted by the store. I also like to ask the employee if they can break the bill I am using so I do not bleed their drawer dry.

Use The Customer Service Desk Instead

Sometimes the customer service desk is the way to go if you need a bill broken.

A cashier may direct you to customer service to have a bill broken.

To be honest, I am not sure why Customer Service has more power to break bills, but I imagine it is because many stores have money services at their Customer Service station.

Go To A Local Bank

Banks are the fool-proof method to getting a bill broken.

If you know you need change, I recommend going into a nearby bank to have your bill broken. You may also be able to do it through the drive-thru.

Since you are not looking to deposit cash, you should be able to go to any bank to have your bill broken, even if you do not have an account with that bank. 

Try Another Store

You may have a better chance of breaking your bill at a larger store.

If you have a list of errands to run and a bank isn’t on the way, you can try to break your bill at another store.

Larger corporation stores – like Walmart and Target – may have a better policy to break your bill since there is more cash flow. Their limit may not be as small as a store like Publix.

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