Why a shop worker can legally refuse your copper coins

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Have you ever had a pocket full of shrapnel and wanted to get rid of it in the supermarket or pub?

If the surly worker behind the counter says they don’t accept it - are they legally right to refuse it?

Well, unfortunately (and annoyingly) they are, under the Coinage Act 1971.

This might come as a surprise, but according to the Royal Mint, 1p and 2p coins are indeed only legal tender if you are paying for something costing 20p or less.

Once you have amassed 21 or more 1p pieces, your coins contravene the Act.

You can spend up to £5 in 5p or 10p coins, or up to £10 each in 50p and 20p pieces.

Pound coins are legal tender for any amount, offering the chance for a frisson of defiance while staying on the right side of the law (next time you buy a car and they won’t give you a courtesy tank of fuel, convert your cash into pound coins).

Coins are legal tender throughout the United Kingdom for the following amounts:

£100 - for any amount

£20 - for any amount

£5 (Crown) - for any amount

£2 - for any amount

£1 - for any amount

50p - for any amount not exceeding £10

25p (Crown) - for any amount not exceeding £10

20p - for any amount not exceeding £10

10p - for any amount not exceeding £5

5p - for any amount not exceeding £5

2p - for any amount not exceeding 20p

1p - for any amount not exceeding 20p