The Case Against Pennies Might Make You Want To Send Yours Back To Uncle Sam For Something Useful

For your Friday afternoon viewing pleasure, we thought we’d share a YouTube video featuring a case against pennies our reader Lisa sent our way. Sure, you may have seen it, as it’s a few months old, but since we’re sure each and every one of you hasn’t seen every single thing ever on the Internet, this one’s worth a post.

C.G.P. Grey’s “Death to Pennies” video is informative enough to show a classroom full of kids curious about the history of money — specifically, how the penny came from glorious copper beginnings and is now just another semi-worthless piece of metal, perfect for leaving behind at airport security checkpoints. And it’s funny enough that we had a good chuckle before glaring accusingly at the jar of pennies on the desk and fighting the urge to chuck them at the wall.

It’s worth noting, points out Consumerist reader Lisa, that contrary to the arguments made against CoinStar, they only charge a fee to turn coins into paper money. You can also opt for a gift certificate if you don’t want to lose money.

Enjoy, and go get your weekend on.

Death to pennies [C.G.P. GREY on YouTube]

Comments

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  1. gman863 says:

    If you get rid of pennies, how is CoinStar going to stay in business?

    /s

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      Not every company (or industry) deserves to live.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Why should changing the law for the betterment of (nearly) all people be stifled because of a single business.

      Also, CoinStar takes nickels and dime and quarters, perhaps more. It can still survive.

    • gman863 says:

      /s = sarcasm

    • DarkPsion says:

      Even if you stop making pennies, it would take years for all of the pennies in use to be accounted for.

    • Southern says:

      I noticed the /s tag, of course, but I would imagine that CoinStar doesn’t much like pennies either.. It probably costs them more to process pennies than they get back from them, especially if people use one of the Reward Card options like Amazon.

      As for myself, I’m all for getting rid of pennies, or just about all cash altogether. :) I *very* seldom carry cash of any type (except for a $100 bill hidden in my belt for emergencies); I use either my debit or my rewards card for just about everything.

      • gman863 says:

        The History Channel’s Modern Marvels did a segment on CoinStar a few years ago.

        After the Brink’s truck empties the machines, the unsorted coins are brought to a huge guarded warehouse then sorted, wrapped by machine and transferred back to banks for deposit.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      By charging you 20% to count your own money (which you could do yourself in-between commercials) instead of what they charge now.

      not /s

    • buzz86us says:

      Coinstar is my solution to pennies every time i want to buy something off amazon i get my penny jar and dump it into the coinstar machine. Coinstar doesn’t charge for converting to gift cards so the business still has value to me.

    • AD8BC says:

      My bank (Bank of Texas) has free coin counters (for customers) in their lobby. Non-customers can use them for a small fee.

  2. Coffee says:
  3. deathbecomesme says:

    Good subject for any future persuasive papers! Thanks

    • akirabass says:

      Back when I was in high school English preparing for a College Board AP exam, we practiced by looking at an old exam in which there was actually a persuasive essay prompt about whether or not we should keep the penny. In one example essay we read, a student hilariously argued (with tongue firmly in cheek) that getting rid of the penny was unpatriotic.

  4. SideshowCrono says:

    Oh Consumerist is just pushing this to increase the number of potential “The store rounded up to $4.75 when they should have rounded down to $4.70! I want my 3 cents!!!”

    Typical.

    • nagiom says:

      Heh, after 40 years of rounding to the nearest dollar, my Grandpa’s checkbook register was off by less than five bucks when he passed away.

      • Kaleey says:

        Provided they use the standard rounding system we all learned in school. Businesses are programmed to ALWAYS round up – never down (because rounding down means they get less money). If we can make them round properly, then yes, it would amount to a few dollars over a lifetime. But I doubt they’ll do that.

    • SoTEX says:

      “I WANT MY TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS!”

  5. J-Purchase says:

    I was U.S. Army stationed in Germany in the early 90s. The PX had done away with pennies entirely and rounded prices to the nearest nickel. You don’t know easy it is to do without pennies until you don’t have to deal with them.

    Today, when I receive a penny in change, it goes flying into the floor of the backseat, not to be seen until it’s time to vacuum out the car, at which point the pennies are piled somewhere near the vacuum for some other guy to grab them.

    Since I grew up poor, I can’t just throw them away as, technically, it is money.

    • mackjaz says:

      Me too! Although it was the late 80′s. I liked not having to count pennies. It just makes so much sense.

    • Ogroat says:

      When I was in Iraq, they didn’t even have traditional change. Turns out it’s expensive and inconvenient to bring fancy metal halfway across the world.

      Instead they had AAFES ‘coins,’ that were essentially coated paper that acted as gift cards of sorts. They had chits worth 25, 10 and 5 cents. They were all the same size, instead differing in color to show denomination. The reverse side was some patriotic military stock photograph. You could use them at any of the shops in theater or at the base exchange when you got home.

  6. Geekybiker says:

    I’d be okay with eliminating the nickle as well and replacing the dollar bill with the dollar coin by discontinuing printing them.

  7. Guppy06 says:

    1.) Anybody with more than 4 pennies has nobody but themselves to blame. The video mentions the time taken for the consumer to deal with pennies, but ignores the time spent by the cashier doing the same.

    2.) Nobody is preventing merchants in the US from including sales tax in their posted prices. Nor is anybody requiring merchants to use psychological pricing to begin with (let alone psychological pricing that is 1¢ less than an even dollar amount).

    3.) It is disingenuous to list Finland and the Netherlands as having eliminated their 1¬¢ coin. They don’t mint their own personalized 1¬¢ coins as the rest of the Eurozone does, but the coins are still legal tender in those countries. The difference is that law in those countries requires prices to be listed in multiples of 5¬¢. GOTO #2 above.

    4.) At least in the US, prices would not be rounded to the nearest 5¬¢, they’d be rounded up in all instances. To demonstrate, look at your receipts and see if sales tax is ever rounded down to the nearest 1¬¢.

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      Yes, it is. In Illinois (this area, at least), grocery tax is 1%. If I buy something that costs $.49 pre-tax, that is exactly how much I pay for it. I did this frequently at the grocery store I used to work at – rolls from the bakery were $.49. That you could extrapolate from you (incorrect) example to how five-cent rounding would be treated is a false assumption anyway.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      In the U.S. everything is rounded to the nearest penny, per normal rounding up/down rules. Your statement was erroneous.

      And to state what *would* happen if pennies were eliminated is moronic, because what actually happens is solely the dermination of the law.

      • Guppy06 says:

        Just this afternoon, $1.75 drink + 6.5% sales tax = $1.87.

        Back when I would buy a 99¢-menu lunch? $2.97 + 6.5% = $3.17

        Even if it were illegal, how often (let alone rigorously) do you honestly think it’s enforced?

        • iamlost26 says:

          I think you’re eating at the wrong place. I have lots of McDonalds receipts for $1.07 ($0.99 + 8.25%)

          • dbaker0810 says:

            8.25% is in Houston, is it not?

            • Southern says:

              Yes, Houston.. Here’s the State Tax law for Texas:

              5. Is rounding permitted when computing sales tax?
              When you compute the sales tax by multiplying the tax rate against the sales price, you should go out to the third decimal place. If the third decimal place is equal to or greater than 5, you should round up to the next cent. If the third decimal place is 4 or less, then you should round down to the next cent. For example, you sell a taxable item for $250 and must charge 8.25% tax. If you multiply the tax rate against the sale price, it is $20.625. Because the third decimal place is a 5, you would round up and charge $20.63. You can also use a rate chart.

              http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/sales/faq_collect.html

              Rounding might be different in other states, but I’ve never heard of one that *always* rounds up, even if it’s a .001..

          • micahdg says:

            Wow, your McDonalds has a 99 cent Dollar Menu?

    • zippy says:

      Most states have rules about how sales tax should be rounded. Where I live, the law is that it is to be rounded to the nearest penny. It’s also illegal for a business to keep any money collected as sales tax. If due to rounding, they end up collecting slightly more than the statutory percentage, they still have to forward it all to the state, so it wouldn’t do a business any good to round everything up even if they could legally do so.

    • Jawaka says:

      Speaking of rounding up, can we please finally do away with gas prices that are posted at a fraction of a cent. I can’t pay $3.59 9/10 for my gas so just make it $3.60 please.

    • ludwigk says:

      “2.) Nobody is preventing merchants in the US from including sales tax in their posted prices. “

      Er, except for state governments. I’ve lived in two states with laws on the books specifically requiring prices to omit sales tax.

      • aja175 says:

        Absolutely. Sales tax in most states has to be a separate and distinct charge.

      • tehwilsonat0r says:

        Confirming this.

      • wrjohnston91283 says:

        Do those states require that the tax be in ADDITION to the posted price, or listed as a line item on the receipt? Could a store post a price of $5, but have it listed on the receipt as $4.76 + 24 cents tax?

    • Cosmo_Kramer says:

      “4.) At least in the US, prices would not be rounded to the nearest 5¬¢, they’d be rounded up in all instances. To demonstrate, look at your receipts and see if sales tax is ever rounded down to the nearest 1¬¢.”

      Laws can mandate how rounding occurs. In the case of sales tax, the same entity that determines how rounding occurs also benefits from the rounding (the government).

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        Texas allows the inclusion of sales tax with clear signage. And our sales tax rounds down when it is supposed to

  8. LiveToEat says:

    The barber shop I take my 4 year old too has a penny gumball machine. However, the barber gives pennies to the customers to buy the gum with because no one ever has pennies to put in it.

  9. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    I don’t understand the CoinStar hate. The video makes it look like CoinStar steals your money, instead of doing what they really do which is to charge a percentage as a convenient alternative to you buying coin rollers and then counting and rolling it and having to walk into your bank during banking hours because you can’t put coin rolls in the magical tubes.

    If you think your time is less valuable than what CoinStar charges, simply roll them yourself and don’t use CoinStar.

    • Jawaka says:

      Yeah but people love to complain here even if it isn’t justified.

    • AuntieMaim says:

      Even better, check whether your bank has a coin sorting & counting machine. All the banks and credit unions I’ve dealt with in the last 15 years has had a coin sorting machine either behind the counter or in the lobby to count customer coins at no charge. I just deposited $15 in pennies and nickels (my husband snags the quarters and dimes for parking) last weekend.

    • foofish says:

      I love Coinstar. It turns couchmoneys into Kindlebooks.

    • Lisse24 says:

      My problem with it is that it doesn’t go the other way. I need/want quarters desperately for laundry and to slide into the “coin only” lane on the Dulles toll road that’s always abandoned and is quicker than EZ Pass.

      Quarters are unnecessarily difficult to obtain. Waiting 10 minutes in line at the bank is not worth $20 of quarters.

      • nugatory says:

        thats why I get $100 in quarters at a time :)

        I don’t understand the coin start hate either. For me, I always take the 100% back on an Amazon give certificate option.

        • bwcbwc says:

          No hate, but their fee is exorbitant for the service. So I just don’t use them. My wife got me a battery-driven coin sorter a few years ago as a Christmas gift. Use that to roll them up now. Still have to wait a bit at the bank, but if I combine it with another bank errand no big deal.

      • Doubting thomas says:

        If you are waiting 2 hours at the bank you are using the wrong bank. If you are grossly exaggerating then you are weakening your argument by making yourself look like a liar. Despite how long you wait at the bank coinstar still provides a service and has every right to expect to be compensated for delivering that service. If you feel they are unfair you have the freedom to roll your own coins and wait for the teller at the bank to break open the rolls, recount them, reroll them and get you your cash.

    • bravo369 says:

      Here’s a little known trick. Each coinstar machine has a telephone line connected. Disconnect that line. Do your thing with counting the coins and when done, select the amazon or itunes gift certificate…or any gift certificate for that matter. It will try to contact the internet, which it can’t since the telephone line is disconnected. It will retry one or 2 more times and then spit out a claim form for you to get the full dollar amount from customer service without the 10% or whatever taken out.

      • hymie! says:

        Each coinstar machine has a telephone line connected. Disconnect that line.

        I think we call that “theft”.

    • Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

      I use Coinstar myself, but at my girlfriends credit union they have a similar machine of their own. You dump in all your coins and it prints out a little receipt. You take the receipt to the teller and either deposit the money in to your account or get it back in cash.

      There is no manual counting or rolling involved. And its free (no surcharge).

  10. CrisA says:

    Hey, if anybody doesn’t want their pennies, I will cheerfully take them. That pig full of change I empty and roll myself once a year usually adds up to well over $100, and at least $15 of that will be in pennies. It adds up.

    • gordon435 says:

      All the banks I’ve been at in the past few years (this includes local banks and credit unions) have long-since stopped accepting coin rolls, and want you to just dump all your change in one of those CoinStar-esque sorting machines, which are free for account-holders. I’m wondering why people spend the considerable time required to do this the old-fashioned way.

    • Cat says:

      Yea, I’ll take anyone’s “unwanted” change, I happily pick them up from the table next to the vending machines @ work. I dump it all in a jar and head to coinstar to turn it into an Amazon gift card.

      If pennies are eliminated, I’d be out only a few dollars a month, but it adds up. $2 or $3 buys an e-book or a HDMI / USB cable.

  11. gman863 says:

    All of you missed the “/s” at the bottom of my post

    /s = sarcasm

  12. thomwithanh says:

    We also need to get rid of the $1 bill… sorry George, the gold dollars last longer and you’re already on the quarter.

    • duncanblackthorne says:

      But, what will we tip strippers with then? Dollar coins don’t stay stuck in garters very well, and nobody wants to use anything larger than a dollar!

    • psm321 says:

      See I don’t understand how all the people advocating for dollar coins want to carry them around. Does everyone carry a little coin purse of some sort??? I know with smaller change I always get rid of it ASAP in a tip jar or something, but that wouldn’t really work with dollar coins (or I’d be losing a whole lot of money).

  13. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    I say we should bring back the HALF-CENT coin.

    http://tinyurl.com/2f6o5vd

  14. Starfury says:

    My change (including pennies works this way.

    1. Get change.
    2. Put into coin bank.
    3. When full go to Coinstar and get Amazon gift certificate code for full amount deposited
    4. Buy stuff!!!

    I used to roll up my coins but the banks don’t like it when you deposit rolls of coins…and the one bank that had a change counter closed years ago.

    • maruawe says:

      That is DUMB —- coin star will charge 10% Go to your bank or credit union and use the coin counter and it cost you nothing..

      Coin star is a ripoff for stupid people that cannot count and they round off their 10% also

      • MaliBoo Radley says:

        Coinstar only charges if you want to turn your change into paper money. There is no charge for turning your coins into gift certificates.

      • MMD says:

        Dude. Relax. And learn a little before you go spouting off. You get the full value of your change if you redeem for a gift certificate.

      • micahdg says:

        I think you deserve a third person telling you that you are DUMB and don’t seem to know how coinstar works.

      • Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

        I occassionally count my own money before I go to the Coinstar machine, and its always spot-on. Never a penny off from the actual total.

        And as been said, you don’t get charged any surcharge if you convert your change to one of their partner gift cards. Plus, their partners frequently feature special offers, in which case you actually end up with more value than you started.

    • OSAM says:

      I’ve never had an issue with my bank not liking rolled coinage.

  15. HoJu says:

    There goes my “Take a Penny. Leave a Penny” tray business.
    Oh well, we had a good run.

  16. lettucefactory says:

    I read the headline as “penises.” This is far less interesting, but probably better for society.

  17. evilpete says:

    I like the observation on how the US should require tax to be included in the price

    • tooluser says:

      Taxes should be a nuisance, not hidden at all, but right in your face. That then generates the appropriate attitude towards taxes. It’s more truthful to disclose.

    • SeattleSeven says:

      That is the real story here. People forget that sales tax is the responsibility of the seller, NOT the buyer.

  18. XianZomby says:

    Kill penny? Maybe. Tax included in price? No.

    While you’re shopping, the prices you see should be what the business thinks it can sell for. Shopping is a transaction between you and a private party. Then at the end, you can be disgusted when the government sticks out its hand to profit from the transaction.

    I think government would like for tax to be included in posted prices because it would reduce shock at the register and allow people to get comfortable not thinking about how much they pay in sales tax.

    • tooluser says:

      Yup. That’s exactly what a Value-Added Tax (VAT) is for — to hide the ginormous amount of taxation from the people. It’s a dishonest thing for a government to do to its citizens.

    • Lisse24 says:

      Much the same reason for the payroll tax – so people get numb to it and don’t realize exactly how much they’re forking over.

  19. Emperor Norton I says:

    As long as there are state & local sales taxes that are added to the bill in addition to the posted price, there’s no way to eliminate the penny.

    The fact is that everyone that wants to eliminate the penny also wants a national sales tax, better known in Europe as the value added tax.
    It would cause an immediate 10% or higher rise in inflation.

    • Cosmo_Kramer says:

      Literally nothing you said was accurate.

      1. You can easily eliminate the penny without regard for local taxes and without changing prices. Rounding works.

      2. Eliminating the penny has nothing to do with a national sales tax, and a national sales tax would have no effect on state and local sales taxes, AND a value added tax is not the same thing as a sales tax.

      3. Eliminating the penny would not cause any amount of inflation, let alone 10%.

      The sad thing is you’re so clueless, you don’t even know how clueless you are.

      • Emperor Norton I says:

        You’re the one that’s clueless. Many states have laws requiring that the sales tax can not be included in the price.
        Rounding can’t work because local taxes are in fractions of a cent & then are added up.
        Every country that created a national sales tax better known as the value added tax saw all prices rise as the tax is applied to the entire price including the tax at every level.
        Retailers will always round up, never down, thus more inflation!
        Naked greed trumps theory every time.

        You have no idea of what you’re talking about.
        Both are linked together.

  20. mcgyver210 says:

    If the Obama Regime kills the penny they will just say any difference will need to be habded over to him for our safety of course.

  21. reudant says:
  22. snoebay says:

    So, how many of you really use cash all the time to make a purchase no matter how small. Pull out those debit and credit cards, down with pennies !

    • brneyedgrl80 says:

      I try to monitor my spending by alotting myself $120 for spending between paychecks (sometimes it’s more) as it is easier to do with cash than with plastic. But this is just me, and a more recent me, for that matter.

    • magnetic says:

      I prefer cash for smaller purchases, and so do most merchants I use. They sometimes charge a fee if my card purchase is below a price like $5 or something.

      • Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

        I’ve seen this as well. Its actually against most major card companies rules to charge more to a customer for using plastic.

        Giving them a discount for using paper is a different story though.

    • OldSchool says:

      I use cash for virtually all small transactions and many larger ones as well, basically any where I do not feel that there is not likely to be a dispute or a need for “enhanced warranty protection”. Both credit and debit cards result in excessive fees to merchants for small purchases which would result in unecessary price escallation Add in the fact that I don’t really care to have everything that I purchase tracked with the information being sold to every scumbag marketing organization on the planet only to have it end up in the hands of people bent on identity theft and using cash wherever practical becomes a no brainer.

    • LabGnome says:

      I actually have been making a conscious effort to spend more cash lately. Especially for smaller transactions at smaller vendors (who are probably hurt more by having to give some of their profit to card companies).

      Pennies really don’t bother me anymore than any other coin. I throw them in a beanie cheetah who has an inside compartment (zipper) that I put coins in, when his poor back is about to split open with coins I take him to the coin doctor for surgery. I call him, ‘Mr. Coinbottom’. Usually, takes about a year. I have been rolling coins ‘myself’, gives the family an activity during TV. Now that Coinstar offers gift cards (so I hear) however I may have to give one a try.

      One thing I don’t like about this approach though is how it is not quite as easy to monitor where money goes (so you can see where you need to spend less or whatever).

  23. mubd says:

    Getting rid of pennies worked really well here in Australia (for the consumer at least):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVPHfN0ETUw

  24. FredKlein says:

    You can’t get rid of the penny. The Cent is the basic unit of measuring amounts under a Dollar.

    “But..but..but, we’ll still use Cents, just not pennies!” Makes no sense to me (no pun intended). You can’t use a thing that no longer exists in any meaningful way.

    For example:
    Let’s get rid of feet.
    We’ll measure everything in yards instead.
    But if we’re adding multiple lengths, we’ll still use feet(?), add them together, and round to the nearest yard.

    Not to mention you know there’ll be customers that make you break purchases up into single-sales, just so you have to round prices down instead of up. Or who pay with cash, except for the last, rounded part.

    On the other hand, stores will adjust prices (upwards) to fit with the ‘new’ values. Let’s say we get rid of pennies, nickels and dimes, leaving only quarters. Items that cost $1.09 will NOT be rounded down to $1.00- stores will round UP to $1.25. Same in vending machines.

    • vx15i says:

      You can still count cents without pennies.

      1 cent + 2 cents = 3 cents! Look, not a single penny was harmed in this transaction.

      The only argument you need to get rid of pennies is inflation. In 20 years the penny will be worth half of what it is today. Get rid of it today or tomorrow, it doesn’t matter, it’s still worthless.

      For the penny supporters too stupid to understand inflation, we could always revalue the dollar to make a penny worth 10 cents.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      Dear Fred has clearly never seen Superman III, or OfficeSpace. Nor has he ever gassed up a car, apparently :) financial transactions can, and routinely are, conducted to an accuracy greater than that which the currency is denominated. I.e. fractional cents, in the case of US currency. In such cases, when it is necessary to “cash out” as it were, the final value is simply rounded to the nearest extant denomination of the currency. We’re the penny eliminated, cash change would be rounded to the nearest nickel. Ironically, given that a majority of retail transactions are now performed electronically (debit/credit cards) the change would actually be transparent to many people, as such transactions could continue to be conducted to the nearest cent, vs. the nearest five cents.

      When you can make yourself richer by melting down your money, that’s a sign…

  25. maruawe says:

    This is a really bias report on the penny– and it does not go into the cost to consumers for the price of stuff. Rounding off to the next denomination up ward could cost consumers millions of dollars a year…. You can try this —on your next shopping trip round off to the next highest number ( business will not go down ) 2 cents = five cents ect. and do this for every purchase
    at the end of a month multiply by 300 million(#of people in the US) and find the number for “1 month multiply that number by 12 to see the cost for a full year..
    On one such trip that I did this on the cost was like $4.80 and that times 12 = $57.60 a year and that was one trip (I did do a lot of shopping
    Your cost per trip will vary according to what you buy and the number of different purchases that you make But remember all your cost will go up because you will not have the penny to lean on, each item will cost you more.

    • ben_marko says:

      It’s not going to cost consumers millions of dollars a year…didn’t you watch the video? Other countries have done this and suffered no ill effects.

      Kill the penny!

    • vx15i says:

      It’s amazing people don’t understand inflation.

      In 20 years, the penny will be worth half of what it is now, half a cent. Are people getting ripped off today?

      The penny used to be worth 25cents. Were people getting ripped off then?

  26. jp7570-1 says:

    Kill the penny now. If it really costs more to mint than it is worth, then it needs to go away.

    If people are cocnerned about having Lincoln on a coin, then create a new $1 coin to replace the one dollar bill. The US has the lowest vlaue denomination bill ($1) in the world. Replacing it with a $1 coin makes more sense, even absed on useful life (bills have an average lifespan of 48 months in circulation – coins last decades and beyond).

    Based on cost-cavings alone, pennies and the one dollar bill should be abolished,mwith only the $1 coin replacing the bill. This is one thing our fractured, grid-locked, ineffective government can do quickly to actually save money.

    Who opposes the $1 coin? Mostly vending machine manufacturers and makers of cash registers (like NCR). This, of course, is a hollow argument – look how fast vending machines converted to taking credit cards.

    • Daggertrout says:

      Well there’s also the fractured money manufacturing segment. The Bureau of Printing and Engraving doesn’t want to print less bills any more than the Mint wants to make less coins.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      Actually, the biggest barrier to US one dollar coins is an ergonomic matter. The “original” one dollar coin was the Susan B. Anthony. It was flawed in that is was too similar in size, weight and color to the quarter. People simply cannot reliably discriminate the two coins quickly by touch, and this, combined with cash register drawers not having a place for it, hampered acceptance of it.

      Notice that all more recent dollar coins are gold, not silver like the Suzy B, aiding visual discrimination. However, the mint has constrained itself by making all its newer dollar coins, like the Sacajawea and Presidential dollar coins, mechanically identical to the Suzy B, so they would be compatible with coin sorting mechanisms (and vending machines) designed for the earlier coin. That and they circulated it alongside dollar bills.

      To truly be successful, a dollar coin would need to be larger than a quarter (the Canadian Loonie is a good example, being about the size and weight of an old Kennedy half dollar) and the dollar bill would need to be systematically withdrawn from circulation. If the government just pulled the trigger and did it, there would be much wailing and knashing of teeth for the first year or so, after which people would have acclimated to the new status quo, and retailers would have gotten new inserts for their cash drawers.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      Actually, the biggest barrier to US one dollar coins is an ergonomic matter. The “original” one dollar coin was the Susan B. Anthony. It was flawed in that is was too similar in size, weight and color to the quarter. People simply cannot reliably discriminate the two coins quickly by touch, and this, combined with cash register drawers not having a place for it, hampered acceptance of it.

      Notice that all more recent dollar coins are gold, not silver like the Suzy B, aiding visual discrimination. However, the mint has constrained itself by making all its newer dollar coins, like the Sacajawea and Presidential dollar coins, mechanically identical to the Suzy B, so they would be compatible with coin sorting mechanisms (and vending machines) designed for the earlier coin. That and they circulated it alongside dollar bills.

      To truly be successful, a dollar coin would need to be larger than a quarter (the Canadian Loonie is a good example, being about the size and weight of an old Kennedy half dollar) and the dollar bill would need to be systematically withdrawn from circulation. If the government just pulled the trigger and did it, there would be much wailing and knashing of teeth for the first year or so, after which people would have acclimated to the new status quo, and retailers would have gotten new inserts for their cash drawers.

  27. swintronix says:

    I just use them. It isn’t hard.

  28. ben_marko says:

    The argument against CoinStar is weak…banks also charge a fee for turning in coins. You are going to have to pay someone to accept them if you want any money at all out of the transaction. But pennies are indeed (almost) worthless as money.

  29. MonkeyMonk says:

    This doesn’t effect me personally because I haven’t picked up a penny in years. If I’m given one as change I just leave it on the counter or in the change return. Viola … no more pennies.

  30. XTREME TOW says:

    Copper, Zinc, Nickel, Silver. “Strategic Metals” for military uses, what better way to ‘store’ them until they are eventually needed? Let the citizens ‘store’ them.

  31. Eggman9713 says:

    The Coinstar argument doesn’t work in my case because my credit union where I do most of my banking has two coin counting machines right in the lobby that you can use for free if you are an account holder. No other credit union or bank in this area that I know of has this.

  32. Kahlidan says:

    I sock away all copper pennies I get and spend the worthless zinc ones. I’ve noticed that the amount of pre-1982 pennies I get in change has diminished greatly in recent years, probably due to people also doing this. The metal value of a copper penny is about 2.5 cents each and older “wheat” pennies are worth more, depending on decade and condition. It is technically illegal to melt them, but that isn’t going to stop anyone with a forge and common sense. The penny should be transitioned into a collector’s piece, meaning only proof varieties would be produced.

  33. Thaddeus says:

    Video got one thing wrong. Toll booths in Illinois will accept pennies. But as all the tolls went up it would be a pain in the ass to pay a 95¢ toll.

  34. brneyedgrl80 says:

    I don’t mind receiving pennies.

    I much rather roll my own than have a machine do it for me. Not so much for the fees they charge, but the error rate involved. And I’m not just referring to Coinstar machines as banks also have an error rate.

    Pennies or not, that is my hard earned money and I don’t want to lose any to an error rate or a fee when I can just do it myself.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      And banks are worried about your error rate in rolling your change (intentional or not) which is why they want you to bring it in loose and let their machine count it.

  35. FrugalFreak says:

    When a man quits counting his pennies, big money flees unwisely.-Me

  36. JonBoy470 says:

    Nothing about the demise of the penny would require merchants to round prices. They’d simply have to round the change for the whole transaction to the nearest 5 cents. And even then, they’d only have to do that for cash customers. For those paying with cash or check, the change would be transparent.

  37. crb042 says:

    ZOMG! Waste to the tune of 4 MILLION pennies a year?!?!

    Wait. Hold on.

    4,000,000 times 1 cent = $40,000 worth of pennies.
    Costing 1.8 cents to make each is… let me check the math here…
    A wasted cost of $32,000 to make those.

    THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR!

    Oh. My. God. THIS is why the government is broke.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      Actually, I think the video mis-spoke, the figure is actually closer to 4 billion pennies per year. Also, crb042′s calculation omits “seigniorage” which is when the US Mint issues coins at their face value, and returns the difference between the metal value and the face value to the treasury. For example, imagine the manufacturing cost of a quarter is ten cents. The fifteen cent difference between the material cost and the face value is turned over to the treasury for debt reduction. This process, unfortunately, works in reverse for pennies and nickels, which have a material cost in excess of their face value. I suspect the dime is only safe due to its being smaller than the smaller denomination coins.

      http://www.usmint.gov/downloads/about/annual_report/2010AnnualReport.pdf

  38. buzz86us says:

    Pennies can still buy things there are a ton of novelty stores that have penny candy for a penny.

  39. Bob says:

    Can someone give me a rational (not emotional) reason to keep making pennies?

    Here are some comments I have heard and here are my responses to them.

    - If we didn’t have pennies then sales taxes would be a mandatory 5% or 10%.
    FALSE!!! This is a common myth in states with whole number percent in sales tax. Many states have sales taxes NOT in whole number percent. Memphis, TN for example is 8.25% so a dollar purchase is taxed for 8.25 cents. Since we don’t have quarter pennies the tax has to be rounded.

    - Then tax for every item will be rounded up, making a big tax increase? FALSE. If you buy several items to tax will be rounded up or down just like it is now.

    - If we didn’t have pennies then all prices will have to be at in multiples of nickels like no more $9.99 pricing. And that is a BAD THING?!?!? Also all prices will be rounded up or down to the nearest nickel. Also would that be a bad thing?

    - If the penny dies this will be the first time a coin has ceased production in America and that will cause (…pick some comment about the decline of America). FALSE!!! We have stopped making 20 cent pieces, half pennies, 50 dollars pieces, and various other coins in our history. The production was stopped because of various reasons, the same reasons the penny needs to cease production.

    - Killing the penny will save government a tiny amount of money, not worth the effort to cease production. FALSE!!! It now costs the mint at least 1.5 cents to make 1 penny in metal alone. If we stop the production of a billion pennies that should save the mint at least 15 million dollars. That is $15,000,000, in metal costs alone. We are trying to save money in government, why not start here?!? It also cost next to nothing to stop production of a coin.

    So what is next?

    • megafly says:

      Also, If we get rid of pennies, that would free up a drawer in the standard cash register for 1 dollar coins. This would facilitate the final removal of the wasteful paper ONE!!

  40. SilentAgenger says:

    I don’t know if this would make sense from a practical standpoint, but with so many pennies already in circulation, and not that big of a need for them, why not just:

    - mint less pennies per year?

    - Or mint them only every other year?

    - Or how about this: only mint them every four years, coinciding with the presidential election (and for fun, each election-year penny would feature the head of the current president, while Abe gets promoted to the new dollar coin).