What Is Coin Currency?

Coin currency is money in the form of coins and paper notes that’s created by individual countries around the world. There are also branded currencies, such as airline and credit card points and Disney dollars, which are used only for the products and services to which they are tied.

Throughout most of history, people used coins as currency primarily because of their intrinsic value — the precious metals in them — which greatly exceeded their face values. Today, though, most coins are minted not for their bullion value but because of their status as fiat currency, meaning that they are government-backed and recognized as having a specific value in the marketplace.

Many countries mint coins in denominations ranging from a few cents to a dollar. They may be round, like the American quarter and the Canadian dime, or a variety of other shapes. Some are bimetallic, with two different types of metals stacked together, such as the Euro1, British £1 and French €2 coins. Most coins have a date of minting on the obverse (the side showing an image of a monarch, other official or national emblem) and a year on the reverse.

In addition to being a means of exchange, coins can also be collectibles and investments. Coins whose designs are of historical interest or beauty can command high prices in the numismatic market, while others may be sought out because of their rarity or because they were produced at a particular time or place.

Cryptocurrencies are the digital equivalents of coin currency, and their use in transactions can bring much-needed liquidity to markets that otherwise rely on credit cards and international remittances. But the assets have drawn increasing scrutiny from regulators, and their extreme price volatility exacerbates economic inequality around the globe. To their proponents, cryptocurrencies are a democratizing force that can empower individuals and bypass central banks and Wall Street. But critics argue that they can’t be trusted to maintain their value, and that unregulated cryptocurrencies enable criminal groups, terrorist organizations and rogue states to evade financial controls.

One of the concerns during the pandemic is that a shortage of coins will prevent stores from making change and will disproportionately hurt lower-income families who rely on cash for their purchases. You can help ease the problem by cashing in your jars of small change and turning them into a gift for your local community or family members.

Check with your bank or credit union to see what they offer. Many will exchange rolled coins for free, but some may charge you a fee if you’re not a customer. Some will even provide you with free coin wrappers. Other options include checking with local businesses to see if they accept coins and asking friends and family to save theirs for you. The odds of finding a valuable coin in any given roll are low, but you can improve your chances by searching through many, many rolls. You can also find some online resources for collecting coins.