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How long do you have to spend your old £5 notes?

Published 5 February 2017 by

The new £5 note has been out for a few months now. The note is the first plastic one in the UK – meaning it can't get wet and dirty like paper, and won't tear if you accidentally put it in the wash. 

The introduction of this new note means that paper fivers will soon be a thing of the past. The paper note will cease to be legal tender on 5 May, meaning you won't be able to use one to pay for things after this point. To make sure you don't lose out, we're taking you through what to do with your old fivers.

The countdown begins

The Bank of England has predicted that the number of old £5 notes in circulation has already halved. But that means that around 165 million old cotton paper fivers are still in circulation.

You won't be able to spend old £5 notes in shops or restaurants after the 5 May 2017. But don’t worry – the Bank of England won't leave you out of pocket. You can exchange an old fiver for a new plastic £5 at any bank, building society or Post Office.

If you find an old fiver that isn't in the best condition, you will need to fill out a form to see whether you can claim back for a damaged note. All of the notes returned to the Bank of England will be recycled using a composting treatment to become a soil improver for agriculture.

Can you make money off an old fiver?

It’s possible the old paper £5 note could be worth something once it's phased out and withdrawn from circulation – so you might want to hold onto one just in case. You should still be able to exchange an old £5 note at a later date if you don't manage to sell it.

You might want to check any new £5 notes you have as they can be desirable for collectors too – find out how you could make money off a new £5 note. Just make sure that you know how to spot a fake £5 note so that you don't sell one on.

There are a number of new notes that are coming into circulation over the next few years. A new £10 note featuring Jane Austen will enter circulation later on this year with a new £20 note featuring JMW Turner set to follow in 2020 – there is also a new £1 coin launching in March 2017.  You can find out more about the new faces on the polymer British banknotes in our blog.

The first notes printed are normally the most desirable collectable items, so look out for serial numbers that begin with AA01. Buyers can look for several notes that have a serial number in sequence (e.g. AA01, 02, 03 etc.) – so keep an eye out for these when the new polymer notes enter circulation.

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