On the 15th October, your old round £1 coins will cease to be legal tender. In short, that means they will go out of service and no longer be considered official British currency – at least as far as the Bank of England’s concerned anyway. And you can consider them something of an authority on the matter.
So if you’ve got any of the old £1 coins still laying around, now’s the time to get spending.
The old £1 coin
The round £1 that we all know has been in circulation since 1983, when it was made by the Royal Mint to replace the £1 note. In 2014, the Bank of England estimated that there were about 1,671,000,000 of these round pounds in circulation, of which about 47 million are believed to be counterfeit.
So, instead of painstakingly sifting through each and every coin to find the 47 million fake coins, the Bank of England has decided to scrap the whole lot and simply replace them with what they claim is ‘the most secure circulation coin in the world’.
What does legal tender mean?
By definition, money that is considered legal tender must be accepted as valid payment for meeting the balance of an outstanding debt. You’re unlikely to be paying off your mortgage in £1 coins any time soon, but debts in this sense also covers exchanges of services or goods for which a payment is expected in return.
In simple terms, ‘legal tender’ just refers to what the Bank of England considers to be money and what it doesn’t. So it won’t be illegal to buy or sell something with the old £1 coin, just as it’s not illegal to buy anything with a 1960s shilling, a 1920s sovereign, or even an Anglo-Saxon coin from the 7th Century – if you happen to have one to hand. That, as far as the Bank of England is concerned is ‘a decision between you and the other person involved in the transaction’.
So how will this affect me?
It does mean, however, that your local supermarket or petrol station is unlikely to continue accepting the £1 coins after the 15th. The official terminology is that a business will no longer be obliged to accept them after the deadline as the Bank ceases to recognise the coins as legal tender.
However, your local bank or building society will continue to redeem the old £1 coins for their full value for a short period beyond the 15th. So don’t worry – if you forget to spend your old £1 coins before the 15th, you won’t have suddenly lost money – you’ll just have to go through a few more hoops to reclaim their value.