Back in 2013, an irate motorist in Adelaide attempted to pay his traffic fine with nothing but loose change. The video of the incident went viral and online debate raged over whether the council was entitled to refuse the payment.
As we explained at the time, there are legal restrictions when it comes to paying for goods and services with coins – but how many is too many? This video has the answer.
Counting coins on the counter of the 7/11,
From a quarter past six ’til a quarter to seven,
The manager, Bevin, starts to abuse me,
“Hey man, I just want some muesli!”
So sang the penny-pinching Jemaine Clement on Flight of the Conchords while slowly deposing loose change onto a 7 Eleven counter. If this was in Australia, Bevan would have been right to abuse him – or at least to refuse him service.
Australian businesses aren’t even obliged to accept Australian banknotes, let alone pocket shrapnel. Simply put, refusing to accept a payment using legal tender status is not against the law.
Here’s what the Reserve Bank of Australia’s website has to say on the topic of using coins as legal tender:
A payment of coins is a legal tender throughout Australia if it is made in Australian coins, but this is subject to some restrictions about how much can be paid in coin. According to the Currency Act 1965 (section 16) coins are legal tender for payment of amounts which are limited as follows: [clear] [clear]
- not exceeding 20c if 1c and/or 2c coins are offered (these coins have been withdrawn from circulation, but are still legal tender);
- not exceeding $5 if any combination of 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c coins are offered; and
- not exceeding 10 times the face value of the coin if $1 or $2 coins are offered.
[clear] [clear] For example, if someone wants to pay a merchant with five cent coins, they can only pay up to $5 worth of five cent coins and any more than that will not be considered legal tender.
In the above video, former Lifehacker editor and Finder head honcho Angus Kidman breaks down the rules for paying with coins along with some interesting tidbits such as how much $5 worth of each coin weighs. (Spooky fact: the silver coins all weigh exactly the same!)