The Daily Mail writes about (a HFP reader?) buying Royal Mint coins for Avios and trying to cash them in!

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Well, I never expected this story to reach the hallowed pages of the Daily Mail, but there you go!  I’m a bit annoyed that I didn’t get a mention 🙂

I have, a couple of times, mentioned that it is possible to buy face value commemorative coins from the Royal Mint using a credit card.  I have never made a big deal of this because:

the Royal Mint doesn’t take American Express, so it was only really worthwhile if you had a ‘no longer available to new customers’ Visa or MasterCard such as the BMI Diamond Club one which pays 2.5 Avios per £1

you were 100% dependant on finding a willing bank if you wanted to pay in the coins.  It was never totally clear what the legal position was.

We now know, thanks to the Daily Mail, what the legal position is!

Royal Mint

You should read the article in full, but here are some extracts:

The reader, who wishes to be known simply has James, would buy high value commemorative coins from the Royal Mint in bulk to gain air miles on his credit card before cashing them in at the bank.

However, the Royal Mint appears to have cottoned onto his system by writing to banks and telling them not to accept the coins, which are deemed ‘legal tender’.


James said: ‘I am someone who has a bit of an addiction to frequent flier miles. I’ve done various things over the years to generate more miles – and the only way to generate such things is by spending on a credit card.


The coins, such as the £100 ‘face value’ Buckingham Palace coin issued last year are limited edition and are described by Royal Mint as legal tender. They also have a 14 day returns policy. 

But its terms and conditions section on the website describes legal tender as having ‘a very narrow and technical meaning in the settlement of debts.’

It adds: ‘In practice this means that although the face-value UK coins in denominations of £5, £20, £50 and £100 are approved as legal tender, they have been designed as limited edition collectables or gifts and will not be entering general circulation.

‘As such, UK shops and banks are not obliged to accept them in return for goods and services.’


A recent letter sent to a bank branch from the Royal Mint, published below, has told staff to no longer accept coins over the counter and that customers should be referred to them instead.


James adds that when he entered his local HSBC branch, as he usually would to cash them in, the bank accepted the deposit. This is Money has seen the deposit slip.

The branch manager then chased after him as he was leaving the branch and advised that it could no longer accept them.

It is a great story but, to avoid copyright issues, I recommend you head over to the Daily Mail site and read it in full for yourself.

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  1. The last line of the Daily Mail article says that some of the coins have proved popular last year. The Big Ben £100 coin for example sold out in 11 days when it went on sale – and some are now selling on online marketplace eBay for more than £130. You can buy a lot more than 250 Avios for £30! We knew exactly what the legal position was before the Daily Mail article. The Royal Mint website spelt it out very clearly. These are commemorative coins not usable legal tender. I suspect that they are classified as “legal tender” because otherwise the Royal Mint would not have any mandate to produce them and they are a great money spinner!

  2. BA-Flyer says:

    I’m amazed he managed to get away with doing it in such large numbers. I tried to cash in a single £100 coin at a NatWest and a Santander, and staff were completely confused. After 40 minutes of discussion, NatWest refused. Santander only took it because I complained they had kept me waiting for an hour whilst they tried to contact head office.

  3. I’ve been doing the same, buying these coins with 3 different amex cards and banking them, until recently with no problems. Now I could be stuck with quite a few of them.

    All the Royal Mint website listings for the face value coins used to say:
    “A coin with intrinsic value – £100 for £100”
    “A coin with intrinsic value – £50 for £50”
    Royal Mint has now removed this from all the face value coin listings.

    It used to also state of the Royal Mint website legal tender guidelines page that these face value coins could be used at main branch post offices. This has also now been removed.

    The Royal Mint website now states:
    “The UK £50 coin is approved as legal tender, it has been designed to be a limited edition collectable or gift and will not be entering general circulation. As such, UK shops and banks are not obliged to accept it in return for goods and services.”
    Yet they’ve written to every bank saying DONT accept them. Not “you’re not obliged to”

    They have effectively devalued EVERYONE’S purchase of these coins, regardless of what the person intended to do with them.
    It is no longer “a coin with intrinsic value – £100 for £100 / £50 for £50” etc.

    • I suspect the Royal Mint were a little shy about shouting too loud, lest it trigger the general public to realise that the whole game is just a pile of cards. (Yes, I realise that the government, the banks, your pension, and money in general is a pile of cards too, but one step at a time…)

      I suspect, too, that they were receiving rather more £100 coins back from the banks than expected, which they were being asked to reimburse, and that that was giving them a headache. “Ere, John. You know that scrap metal we flogged to the public for an absurdly high price…”

  4. The whole thing is a con by the RM. They shouldn’t be allowed to have a denominated minted on the coin if it can’t be used to get that denominated worth of goods or services. Large denomination coins are especially big con, do you reckon it costs them anywhere near £100 to make the £100 coins? no way.

    • The government gets away with a lot of things which are a far bigger con that they ‘shouldn’t be allowed to’

      It will have cost them less than £30, so if they’ve made 100K of each denomination they’ve only made about £10M, which will run the NHS for 50 minutes

    • Aeronaut says:

      Government mints in many other countries do much the same.

  5. My local Natwest referred my to ‘bank of England’ – any one know of a nice place for me to encash?

    • The Bank of England only takes notes. The only way to get value out of coins is for a commercial bank to take them and return them to Royal Mint via one of their cash centres.

      Looks like anyone who has bought them will be stuck with them unless they can convince someone to buy them on ebay, or the price of silver rises to £50 per ounce (currently £10)

    • The Bank of England does have a branch inside – it is on the right as you go in. Not sure if the general public can use it or if it is just for staff. One perk of working there is that you get to have your current account there and get a Bank of England cheque book! I went there once for a job interview and had my travel expenses reimbursed with a very nice Bank of England cheque!

      • Aeronaut says:

        Yes, the general public can use the counter to exchange withdrawn banknotes for new ones, or for direct payment into a bank account.

        Damaged banknotes are dealt with separately by the BoE in Leeds, and need to be sent in by post (there’s no counter service for this).

        I wonder how many travel expense cheques issued by the BoE never get cashed?

      • A former Bank employee here, so what follows may now be out of date…
        As Aeronaut says, the general public can use ithe branch inside, and if you ever find an old out of circulation bank note then they accept it. Note collectors also use this branch to get low serial number versions of new note releases.
        The chequebook was a nice perk, but the current account was uncompetitive so I only had it for novelty value. The sort code was 10-00-00.

  6. I’ve got about £300 of Olympic 50p still, got fed up of unwrapping them so they are in a box… I did eBay some for a nice profilt! All paid for by Amex of course!

    • I’ve just looked on eBay…. 50p coins in packaging are selling for 99p plus postage! Could possibly be the best investment I ever made!

      • some of them are selling without packaging for up to £4….

        Just found a full packaged set in a wardrobe id forgotten about 🙂

    • Olympic 50p can be used anywhere.

      • Aeronaut says:

        Yep. They were released into general circulation… then rapidly started disappearing from circulation! I thought they were neat and had a little collection going, but stupidly then spent some in a parking meter without realising it… they were just sculling around in a small desk drawer amongst other bits. Guess I’m not destined to be a coin collector!

    • I’ll pay face value for them all. Got a little collection going.

  7. O/T Amex Travel – £50 off £150

    Did anybody find a clever way of adding £5 to a flight coming up at £145? Just booking my wife’s flights for the summer.

    • @harry you can book an “experience” like airport transfer

      • I can see a scenic river cruise for £6 but I am struggling to get this & the flight on the same checkout

        • Fairly sure it can’t be done & nobody has done it. Ie you can’t book a flight plus another Amex Travel option eg scenic river cruise in the same booking.

    • you can also use your Amex MR points sitting in your account points for the payment. So if your total purchase comes to £180 you can use your card to pay £150 then £30 of MR points.

      Worked for me the confirmation email came through directly after payment.

      • Yes, but you’re getting poor value for your MR points – and it doesn’t help harry’s problem, which is to get the total OVER £150…

        • yep I am resigned to checking daily until the fare pops above £150. The problem is, the other 4 of us already booked on the ‘right’ flight that day – so we need to get my wife on the same one.

          • Is it a one-way you’re booking? Then see if you can find areturn fare for less than £45 extra

          • The fare is £145 so I’m looking for £5 more

          • Anyway, here’s another weakness (unless it’s deliberate?) in Amex Travel – you can’t book a one-way flight + car/ or flight + hotel option. Same seems true of BA site.

            So I have no option other than to pay up now or wait, I think I’ll wait. You never know, prices go up & down, so does RFS availability.

          • That is because the airlines don’t sell one-way IT fares, I think, which is the ‘not available to the public, only to travel agents putting together packages’ discount fare used in this scenario.

    • Ring them and ask them to book it in to a fare bucket one further up. That will increase the price (by an unknown amount). I have done this once before. They sounded pretty incredulous on the phone and thought I was mad.

      • Has to be an online purchase. You reckon I could buy online then make the phone call? I think too much doubt about it working.

        OTOH I did wonder if I could ring them & get them to combine £145 air fare + £6 river cruise into 1 transaction – would probably work as Amex just sees Amex Travel, surely?

        Anyway, there’s a big difference between taking one for the team & throwing away £50 🙂 – so I think I’ll just wait a bit for the fare to go up or down or RFS availability to come back.

  8. I was very interested to read more but it is the Daily Mail on a matter of principle won’t touch the rag

  9. There is a far better option: the US Mint accepts credit cards including Amex for orders up to $24,999.99. Considering that gold and silver coins are always in high demand and that the price of gold is likely to rise if the current turmoil in the financial markets continues, selling coins in the secondary market possibly at a profit shouldn’t be too hard.

  10. I’m not sure why they would mention you anyway, but I’m more perplexed over why you’d want to be mentioned in such a vile piece of trash at all!

  11. OT but might be of interest to some. UA have Business Class Fares loaded to Orlando from Dublin pricing at £650 in July and August

    • Madness! At the height of summer too. (Very useful, thanks.)

      A quick search turns up LH/LX for £10-£20 more as well.

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