New warning over old banknotes

The Bank of England has announced that over £17 billion of old £20 and £50 notes are still in circu

March 30, 2022
New warning over old banknotes
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The Bank of England has announced that over £17 billion of old £20 and £50 notes are still in circulation, six months from the deadline for the old notes becoming redundant.

The research shows that there are over 500 million actual £20 and £50 notes that are still in the hands of consumers or businesses that must be used before the 30th September 2022. Any notes not used by this date won’t be totally obsolete – they can still be traded in with the Bank of England.

The new data from the Bank of England also shows that there are huge sums of old £5 and £10 notes, as well as the old £1 coin, still in circulation. These have already stopped being accepted in shops and by businesses. An estimated 200 million £5 and £10 notes are thought to be hidden away by consumers, while there are £105m worth of one-pound coins that haven’t been returned.

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The new notes

The new £20 note was introduced on 20th February 2020, while the new £50 note was introduced on 23rd June 2021. They were the last of the new notes to be brought into circulation, some time after the new £5 note (13th September 2016) and £10 note (14th September 2017) were first released.

The newer notes are made from polymer instead of the paper material used for the last generations of banknotes. Polymer notes have a number of benefits over paper:

  • Polymer notes tend to last 2.5 times longer than paper notes
  • They are easier to clean since they have a smoother dirt-resistant surface
  • They’re able to hold more security features, such as holograms and see-through window
  • Because they last longer, they have a lesser carbon footprint, making them better for the environment

There are more than 4.5 billion banknotes in circulation in the UK. In total around 3.75 billion are the new polymer notes, while the remaining 750+ million are the old-style banknote.

How to return old currency

Until the deadline of 30th September 2022, customers can still use their own banknotes, although they can’t use them as normal in shops. Instead, they can either deposit the notes with their own bank, while many Post Office branches will accept them as a bank deposit as well.

Of course, the startling number of bank branch closures does make this more difficult – many customers will now have to travel further to be able to make a cash deposit with high street banks closing their branches due to a reduced footfall.

Customers who can’t access their branch to make a deposit, or who find any old £20 or £50 notes after the 30th September deadline, can trade them in directly with the Bank of England. The easiest solution is to post them, although customers do risk theft or loss of mail, which they won’t be able to claim for with the Bank of England.

Ian Lewis
Ian Lewis
Ian is an experienced writer with 15 years’ experience working in journalism and marketing. He’s worked in-house in financial institutions as well as writing freelance pieces for a variety of banking and financial trading websites.

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