The new £1 coin came into circulation at the end of March, signalling the beginning of the end for the round pound, which will be completely phased out by 15 October.
If you’re struggling to make heads or tails of the change, here’s what you need to know, including what to do with your old coins and what it means for those supermarket trolley key fobs.
The new £1 coin is about the same size as the old one but has 12 edges and is gold and silver. It features a hologram where the “£” symbol changes to the number “1” when viewed from different angles.
The “tails” side was drawn by schoolboy David Pearce, who in 2015 created a design of the four plants that represent the UK’s four nations. He said he “spent a lot of time researching what coin designs looked like and what sort of designs would represent all parts of the UK” before drawing a leek, thistle, shamrock and rose coming out of a crown.
The new design is meant to be harder for criminals to fake and is billed as the “most secure coin in the world”.
About 45 million £1 coins, or 3% of those in circulation, are apparently counterfeit. Royal Mint, which produces the coins in its Llantrisant factory in Wales, says the new £1 features a secret “patented high security feature” to prevent copycats. Distinctive features – including grooves on the coin and tiny lettering – are meant to make it easier for shopkeepers and bank tellers to recognise a genuine coin.
Shoppers can use both old and new coins from 28 March. You have until 15 October to spend the old £1 coins. After this date they cease to be legal tender but you will still be able to return old coins to the bank and exchange them after this date. So, get raiding those piggy banks and search down sofas and in glove compartments to make sure you’ve used all your old coins before 15 October.
Vending machines, slot machines, parking meters and toilet turnstiles will all have to be adapted to accept the new coins and reject old ones. Several supermarkets have said they are getting ready by making sure self-checkout machines accept old and new coins from 28 March. They will reject round £1 coins when they go out of circulation in October.
But Bryony Andrews, features editor at Vending International magazine, warned that some vending machines might be slow to adapt.
“It could be difficult if operators haven’t got around to updating their equipment in time,” she said. “In that case, there would be a period when they can’t accept the old coins or the new ones.”
If you have a key ring the same size as a £1 coin that fits in to supermarket trolleys, you may still be able to use it after October. The bigger supermarkets, including Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, say their trolleys will accept both the new and old £1 coin, as well as tokens used to resemble them.
Asda told customers not to “worry about our trolleys” which will accept the new £1 coin, the existing version and trolley tokens.
It does not seem long ago that the paper pound note was phased out in 1984 and now we have a plastic fiver. Some of us are still getting used to the “new money” when we were decimalised in 1971.
What a lot has changed since then!