I cashed in my stock of coppers, but it wasn’t easy, says TOBY WALNE

I’m afraid the writing is on the wall for change.

The Isle of Man has become the first part of the British Isles to start phasing out copper copper, with the Treasury arguing last month that they cost more to make than they are worth. The Economist magazine has called on the British government to follow suit and scrap the penny.

The Royal Mint says 1p and 2p coins ‘remain an integral part of British currency’ and the government has secured their future in 2019. But as we rush towards a cashless society where internet banking and card transactions dominate, the demise of the currency will be low buyers is only a matter of time.

Old moneybags: Toby Walne uses the Coinstar machine in his local Sainsbury’s and receives £215.75… but loses £28 in commission

If so, that would be problematic for me. Like millions of households, my family is in a large number of households.

It seems that over the years we have amassed a stash of coins, foreign notes brought back from holidays abroad and now defunct currencies scattered around the house.

They can be found in jars on bedside tables, mixed with old buttons and jumbled household waste at the back of kitchen cupboards – and of course on the back of the sofa.

I decided to move on and do a good cleanup now. Even if pocket change isn’t abolished at all, I could still get some use out of turning messy buyers into cold, hard cash. So I got to work.

The counter is gone… so HSBC says no

IT is a large cache of shrapnel that my family has collected at home: four large bags weighing 24 kilos.

I drag the bags down the high street and place them on the counter of my local HSBC branch in Bishop’s Stortford, a town in Hertfordshire. After closing 114 banks last year I should be grateful they are still open, but as a victim of a ‘transformation programme’ the counter has been ripped out.

Instead, there are five machines plus eight interview rooms. Assistant Sandra explains that the makeover was carried out three years earlier – and admits that the three payment machines labeled ‘cheques’, ‘notes’ and ‘business’ are of no use to me.

She points to a branch in Harlow, twenty miles south, where there is still a counter and a machine that might take my change ‘if it works’.

She is polite and tries to be helpful by handing over a hundred plastic bags to put change in before it is accepted. This is 1p or 2p pieces up to £1 for one bag; 5p or 10p pieces up to £5 in a bag; 20p or 50p pieces up to £10 for a bag; or £1 or £2 coins up to £20 in a bag.

Sandra says while the bank can’t help, the Post Office can take the cash in a bag – up to a maximum of £250 per journey. But stacking more than 5,000 coins in denominations and packing them will take me all day, and by then the post office would be closed.

Metro Bank customers can also use a ‘magic cash machine’ that automatically deposits the spare change into your account. Some major banks, such as Barclays, HSBC and NatWest, also have machines that allow you to deposit your change into accounts for free at certain branches.

Lesson learned: You can pick up change at any major bank with a teller window. Flagship branches may have machines that also withdraw your coins and transfer them to your account.

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Sainsbury’s saves the day… but at a price

There is a Coinstar machine in my local Sainsbury’s supermarket that can handle the bags of change.

In addition to a photo booth, it lures customers in with signs that say “put coins in, spend money.” But the fine print ‘Fees, terms and conditions’ on the screen shows that there is a ‘coin counting charge: 11.5 per cent of the total value of coins counted plus £0.25p per transaction’.

Cash in hand: Banks and building societies are not obliged to accept obsolete pounds

Cash in hand: Banks and building societies are not obliged to accept obsolete pounds

I tear open the cloth bags and start pouring the coins into them. It takes at least five minutes to sift all the money through a narrow mailbox grid.

Shoppers look at me curiously as the sound of cash falling through the machine sounds like hitting the jackpot on a one-armed bandit in Las Vegas.

‘My, you have a lot of coins! Please wait while we catch up,” the screen reads. The total comes to a whopping £215.75. Satisfactorily, there is a breakdown of coins – from 1,838 cent coins to two £2 coins – with a total of 4,782 coins accepted. More than 300 coins and assortments are spit out because they are foreign or no longer in circulation.

The machine earns approximately £28 in commission. I take the receipt to the counter and receive a handful of fresh notes.

Lesson learned: If I had bagged the coins and handed them over to a bank that accepts coins or to a post office, I would have avoided the high commission.

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Websites host outdated coins

For old coins and outdated banknotes, a specialized website such as Leftover Valuta or Cash4Coins is another option. Looking through the remaining 300 or so coins, I mainly find obsolete 50 cent and £1 coins, and euros or US cents.

Banks will only adopt the old British currency at their discretion. Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest, Santander and building society Nationwide say they will put your old £1 coins into an account you have with them.

The post office accepts coins if your bank has signed up to receive deposits

The post office accepts coins if your bank has signed up to receive deposits

You can also use a post office – if your bank has signed up to receive deposits at the post office. The Bank of England accepts old banknotes, but not coins.

If anything had caught my eye, I could have contacted the Royal Numismatic Society to put me in touch with a local coin dealer.

There are tenders such as a rare Kew Gardens 50p piece with a Chinese pagoda on one side, worth up to £750. No machine will identify this – only eagle eyes.

Websites such as All Coin Values ​​offer guidance, as do the free smartphone apps CoinSnap and Coinoscope. Surviving currency pays 75 cents for old £1 coins, 37 cents for old 50 cent pieces and 72 cents for a euro.

But you have to transfer your money before they deposit the money directly into your bank account.

Royal Mail Signed For 2nd Class delivery costs £4.69 up to 2 kilos. I’m determined not to give away 25p per pound, so I grab the old one pound coins (with smooth edges that were withdrawn from circulation in 2017) and head to Nationwide and the change is worth £40.

Lesson learned: Banks and building societies are under no obligation to take my outdated sterling, but it was worth trying my luck.

Charity takes foreign money off my hands

An Oxfam charity shop opposite the bank offers a warm welcome that is a far cry from the clinical approach of cost-cutting big banks.

Volunteer Bob Kisby has no qualms about taking my money – coins, notes and even foreign currency. Other charities keen to take extra foreign currency include the RNIB – which also seizes old British money; Age UK; and the Alzheimer’s Society – which also takes legacy money.

I also collected 600 Indian Rupees, 120 Hong Kong Dollars, 100 Norwegian Krone and 100 Moroccan Dirhams, all during family vacations. The donation is £35 – enough to buy three goats for people in need in Malawi.

Lesson learned: The shrapnel you donate to charity can make a difference.

I collected £288… but it could have been more!

Our stash was definitely worth digging through – and with minimal effort I pocketed €288.07. It was a shame the bank couldn’t accept my old £1 coins. If I had I would have been £30 better off.

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