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What Happens When My 1 Coins Stop Being Legal Tender?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Since 1983, the round £1 coin has reigned supreme as the most widely used British coin – but soon it will be no more. From the 15th October 2017, they will no longer be considered legal tender by the Bank of England and will be replaced by the new £1 coins that you’ll have seen creeping into circulation since March this year.

But if you’ve got a secret stash of old £1 coins lying around somewhere, what does this change in the legal tender status of the £1 coins mean for you?

The 1983 round £1 coin

The Royal Mint replaced the old £1 bank note in the early 80s; phasing that out between 1983-1984, in much the same way as they’re doing now (although the note has hung around in Scotland until much more recently).

Since then, a staggering 1,671,000,000 of these coins are thought to have been released into circulation, of which 47,000,000 are believed to be counterfeit.

In order to deal with this extensive problem of counterfeit money, the Bank of England has decided to get rid of the old coin and simply replace it with a new one - in fact, the replacement is said to be the most secure one ever.

So what is legal tender?

The Bank of England summarises legal tender in the following way: ‘‘If you are in debt to someone, then you can’t be sued for non-payment if you offer full payment of your debt in legal tender.” Reading that definition, it sounds as though it has very little to do with buying a pint of milk or litre of petrol.

In practice, all it means is that the Bank of England only considers legal tender to be official currency. And while, in most cases, there’s no legal obligation for anybody to pay any attention to what is and isn’t legal currency, of course the vast majority of organisations and individuals do anyway.

What does this mean for me and my £1?

But before we get pulled into a philosophical debate around the definition of money itself, let’s talk practicalities.

Essentially, after the 15th October, most stores and outlets will no longer accept the round £1 coin for payment. You may get lucky and come across a rogue ticket machine somewhere, but it’s unlikely, so it’s probably a good idea to get rid of your old £1 coins before then.

If not, your bank or building society will continue to exchange these coins for their full value for a short while after the 15th, but this offer won’t last forever. That means if you come across a decades-old stash of £1 coins in your attic on the 16th of October, you can still get them exchanged for their full value – you just won’t be able to actually spend them.

If this exciting currency change has got you thinking about British coins and currency, then have a look over our range of gold coins and silver coins. One thing’s for sure – they’ll be a lot more valuable than your old round £1 in a few years’ time!