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Six months left to spend (or swap) old £20 and £50 notes

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

There are just six months left to spend or swap old paper £20 and £50 notes before they’re withdrawn from circulation.

Shoppers with paper £20 and £50 notes won’t be able to spend them after 30 September 2022, with just the polymer equivalents having legal tender status.

This deadline applies to Scottish notes issued by Clydesdale Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland, as well as those issued by Bank of Ireland (UK) plc, Northern Bank Limited (trades as Danske Bank), and National Westminster Bank plc (trades as Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland).

There are approximately £7bn worth of paper £20 and £10.5bn worth of paper £50 notes still in circulation, according to the Bank of England.

But they’re being replaced by new polymer notes featuring J.M.W. Turner on the £20s, and Alan Turing on the £50s.

While both paper and polymer notes can currently be used, after 30 September (so they can still be used on 30 September itself), they can’t be spent but they can be deposited into customer bank accounts.

Some Post Offices may also accept withdrawn notes as payment for goods and services or as a deposit to an account accessed via them. The Bank of England will continue to exchange all withdrawn notes.

It’s chief cashier, Sarah John, said “We want to remind the public that they only have six months left to spend or deposit their paper £20 and £50 notes. Over the past few years we have been changing our banknotes from paper to polymer, because these designs are more difficult to counterfeit, whilst also being more durable.

“A large number of these paper notes have now been returned to us, and replaced with the polymer £20 featuring the artist J.M.W. Turner, and the polymer £50 featuring the scientist Alan Turing. However, if members of the public still have any of these paper notes in their possession, they should deposit or spend them whilst they can”.

The new polymer £20 was first issued on 20 February 2020, and the polymer £50 note was first issued on 23 June 2021. Plastic £5 notes entered circulation on 13 September 2016, while the plastic £10 note was launched on 14 September 2017.

All AIB Group (UK) plc/First Trust Bank banknotes will cease to be legal currency after midnight on 30 June 2022 but can be used as normal until then.

Old round pound coins

Last week it was revealed there were still £105.5m old round £1 coins which had yet to be returned to the Royal Mint.

The old coins lost their legal tender status in October 2017 and to date, nearly £1.6bn worth had been returned to The Royal Mint since the ‘most secure’ 12-sided replacement landed in our pockets in March 2017.

Approximately 1.45 million counterfeit £1 coins have also been returned, while 138 million have been melted down to help create some of the newer coins.

If you have old round £1 coins, you should be able to take them to your bank.