Should You Spend Your Dollar Coins?

A stock photo of some 1 Ounce Silver Eagle coins.
LPETTET / Getty Images/iStockphoto

In an age where digital transactions are rapidly overshadowing physical currency, the dollar coin remains a curious fixture in the United States economy. While they’re not as commonly used as their paper counterparts, dollar coins hold a unique place in American currency. Here’s a rundown on whether or not you should be spending these gold and silver nuggets.

Historical and Collectible Value

Dollar coins have been produced in various designs, celebrating different aspects of American history and culture. From the Susan B. Anthony dollar to the Sacagawea and Presidential dollars, these coins may have collectible value that could exceed their face value. Before spending them, it might be worth checking if your coin is a rare or limited edition:

Do Not Spend These Dollar Coins

These are the rare or limited edition dollar coins that should not be spent on your next soda can. These are highly collectible and worth way more than face value:

  • Flowing Hair Silver Dollar
  • Seated Liberty Silver Dollar
  • Draped Bust Silver Dollar
  • Morgan Silver Dollar
  • Eisenhower One Dollar
  • Small Eagle, 13 Stars Silver Dollar

There’s many other, and a lot of these are dependent on quality, year, error-factor, etc. But please do research on your own dollar coins before spending.

Durability and Longevity

But if you just have the old run of the mill Sacagawea dollar coin (though some are worth much more), one of the most compelling arguments for using dollar coins is their durability. Coins can last an estimated 30 years or more, while paper money has a much shorter lifespan. From an economic and environmental standpoint, spending dollar coins makes sense; they reduce the need for frequent reprinting and the resources associated with it.

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Practical Considerations

On the practical side, dollar coins are more cumbersome than paper money. They’re heavier and take up more space, which can be inconvenient for those who prefer not to carry coins. Additionally, vending machines and parking meters often accept dollar coins, providing a convenience factor that paper bills do not.

Economic and Circulatory Impact

The U.S. Mint continues to produce dollar coins because federal law mandates their circulation. However, the public’s reluctance to use them means these coins often end up sitting in Federal Reserve vaults. Spending dollar coins can help move them through the economy, ultimately saving the government money by reducing the need to produce additional currency.

The Novelty Factor

There’s a novelty factor with dollar coins that can make spending them fun. They’re a conversation starter and many people, especially children, find them more exciting than paper dollars. Using them for tips or small purchases can be a pleasant way to reintroduce them into circulation.

International Considerations

Travelers may note that many other countries favor coins for equivalent or higher amounts than the U.S. dollar. Being accustomed to spending coins can make international travel slightly easier, as it won’t be as much of a jolt to adjust to foreign currency practices.

Ultimately, whether you spend your dollar coins is up to personal preference. If you find them cumbersome, you may prefer to exchange them at a bank or spend them sparingly. However, if you enjoy their durability, historical significance, and the novelty they offer, then by all means, spend them. Dollar coins are legal tender and can be used for any transaction where dollars are accepted. With their longevity, you might just help in a small way to save the environment and the economy, one coin at a time.

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Editor's note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates' editorial team.

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