Collector coins are usually left in a drawer somewhere or in the attic/basement, sometimes possibly even forgotten. If you’ve stumbled across some collector coins, or you’re just tired of looking at them, you might wonder if you can spend them like normal money.
You can spend collector coins like normal money, depending on the situation. If the coins are considered legal tender and were minted with the same materials as normal coins, you might be able to spend them. However, souvenir coins can’t be spent like normal money.
Do you want to learn more about whether or not you can spend collector coins like normal money? Keep reading to find out more!
Why You Can’t Always Use Collector Coins To Make Purchases
Most of the time, people don’t use collector coins to make purchases because of their value, and they’re often not accepted by businesses. Below are some main reasons you can’t always use collector coins to make purchases.
Businesses Don’t Always Accept Them
Businesses aren’t always willing to accept collector coins. For example, collector coins are considered non-circulating legal tender in Canada, so it’s up to the individual business to decide whether or not to accept them as forms of payment in that country.
While some businesses might not have issues taking such coins as payment, others could outright refuse.
The Coins Might Be Outdated
Many people like to collect older coins, particularly those that are no longer in circulation. If the coins you’ve collected are no longer in circulation, there’s a chance you won’t be able to use them as legal tender.
However, you can sell them if you want to make some money.
For example, if you have a collection of some old Polish Marks, they can’t be used like normal money anywhere in Poland. The Polish marks were replaced with the Polish zloty. But selling them could be a viable option to make some easy money.
Additionally, any US dollar bills or coins created before the Federal Reserve Act was created are not considered legal tender and, therefore, cannot be used to buy goods or services.
Dollars, whether commemorative or not, minted from 1914 onwards, which was after the Federal Reserve Act was created, are considered legal tender, but most people choose to keep these as collector coins rather than using them as normal money.
So, if you want to spend your collector coins like normal money, be sure to make sure they’re still classed as legal tender and that the currency isn’t obsolete. In most cases, it’s not worth spending collector coins because they’re often valuable and can be sold for more money.
They Aren’t Usually Intended For Recirculation
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), all authentic commemorative coins are considered legal tender. However, they’re made to be collected rather than circulated and to raise money for different causes, so you’ll rarely see anyone using them as real money.
Unlike regular coins, and some collector coins, commemorative coins are made differently because they often have special designs and artwork done on them. A lot of planning goes into the artwork of each commemorative coin, which is why most people would never use them as normal money to buy goods or services.
Also, if your coin collection consists of old dollar coins that aren’t of a commemorative nature, you should be able to use them like normal money, if they were made after 1913.
Some Countries/Regions Have Different Rules
Each country/region has different rules regarding what is and isn’t considered legal tender. For example, the UK has strict rules about old sterling notes and coins being used as legal tender.
According to the BBC, the old £1 coin was replaced with a newer one in 2017.
While the old coin can be exchanged or deposited in banks, it can’t be used as real money in stores. So if you have a collection of some old sterling coins, especially ones from many years ago, you won’t be able to spend them like real money in the UK.
On the other hand, US dollar coins and notes created from 1914 onwards are considered legal tender, so the rules in the US are more lenient than those in the UK regarding spending old collector coins.
In addition to the US, Europe is another region that allows people to spend collection and commemorative coins, as long as it’s Euro and not an obsolete currency, like normal money. Each country that uses the Euro currency can issue €2 commemorative coins once per year, and these special coins can be used as legal tender throughout Europe.
Most people would rather not spend these commemorative coins because they are rare and, therefore, valuable. Even the oldest available Euro coins can still be used as legal tender throughout Eurosystem countries.
Some Are Souvenir Items
While some collector and commemorative coins can be used as legal tender (non-circulating legal tender), others are souvenirs and can’t be used to purchase goods. Generally, souvenir collector coins are made of different materials, so it’s highly unlikely a business will accept them.
Souvenir coins are made to be collected and kept rather than spent, and they can often be of high value.
To understand this better, let’s look at the main types of collector coins:
- Standard coins: These are generally normal coins that are just old, and are often still considered legal tender, depending on the currency. They’re not commemorative because they were originally minted as normal coins, but the high value is because they’re vintage, rare, or from a significant historical period.
- Commemorative coins: These are usually considered legal tender and can often be used to purchase goods and services, but they’re limited editions and more valuable than standard coins. Although they’re usually legal tender, they’re not made to be circulated.
- Souvenir coins: These aren’t made as legal tender, so they’re essentially “fake.” They’re made solely to collect and can’t be used as real money.
What Can You Do With Collector Coins?
There are different things you can do with collector coins. One thing you can do is keep them as souvenirs, especially if they are of historical significance. Another option is to sell them, especially rare ones, as this can drive the value. Gifting them to someone is also a good idea.
Let’s look at each option in more detail below.
Grow Your Collection
Keeping collector coins is a good option if you aren’t currently looking to make some extra cash.
Many benefits come with keeping your collector coins, including:
- The chance to pass them on to your children or grandchildren in the future.
- The historical and educational aspects of each coin.
- The possibility of a value increase over time.
Since many collector coins are from a certain part of history, you can learn a lot from these coins. You can also teach others about the historical significance of different collector coins you have, which is why keeping them is often the best option.
Also, collector coins could continue to increase in value, so keeping them for a few extra years or decades could increase the potential profits from a sale. Of course, there is no guarantee that the value will increase, so you shouldn’t expect it. However, it is a possibility.
Sell Them For a Profit
Today, there are many ways to sell collector coins, which can become overwhelming rather quickly. Below are just some examples of places/ways to sell collector coins for a decent profit:
- Coin stores
- Coin websites
Be sure to shop around for the best prices and do plenty of research before making a final decision. The last thing you want is to get ripped off and realize it’s too late to do anything about it.
The amount of money you get for collector coins will depend on several things. The rarer a coin is, the more money people will be willing to spend on it. Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the tax laws surrounding selling collectors coins, as well.
For more information, check out my article on whether your collectors coins are taxable: Are Coin Collections Taxable? The Facts Explained – You might be surprised by the answer.
Gift Them to Other Enthusiasts
Another option is to give the collector coins to someone interested in them. If a loved one has a birthday coming up, think about whether or not they’d appreciate a set of collector or commemorative coins.
Even if you give them to someone who doesn’t have an interest in coins, they have the option to sell them for potentially a lot of money.
Spend Them, But This Isn’t Recommended
It’s sometimes possible to spend collector coins like real money. However, it’s rarely a smart idea because most collector coins are too valuable, so you’d get more money from selling them.
Also, some businesses, such as in Canada, can refuse commemorative coins at their discretion, so you might not always be able to spend them.
There are many different types of collector coins, and each country/region has different rules. Therefore, whether or not you can spend your collector coins like real money is entirely circumstantial.
After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of spending collector coins like real money and why it’s not always possible.