Today is the last day to use paper £20 and £50 notes before they become unusable - check down the back of your sofa now
Today (30 September) is the final day before paper £20 and £50 notes are withdrawn from circulation, so act now before shops stop accepting them. You can spend the notes until midnight tonight, but after that you'll have to bank them or swap them.
According to the latest figures published by the Bank of England in June, there are more than 300 million paper £20 banknotes and 16 million paper £50 notes in circulation. But these notes will no longer be useable from 30 September 2022. The same deadline also applies to £20 and £50 notes issued by various Scottish and Northern Irish banks.
The shake-up follows the release of new polymer versions in 2020, which were created to try to reduce counterfeiting. Below we explain everything you need to know.
How to ensure your £20 and £50 paper notes don't become worthless
To avoid your notes becoming unspendable, most of you have three options to take before Saturday (1 October 2022), regardless of where the notes have been issued in the UK:
- Spend them.
- Deposit them into your bank account at your local bank branch or post office.
- Swap them for polymer notes at your bank.
If you're unsure what you're looking for, check out pictures of the soon-to-be-withdrawn Bank of England paper £20 and £50 notes using the highlighted links.
Here's how to make old Bank of England notes and UK coins spendable again
If you miss today's (30 September) deadline - or you also still have the old paper £5 and £10 notes or the old 'round pound' - here's what to try:
- Your bank may swap or deposit old paper notes and coins. Banks don't legally have to accept old paper notes and coins once they've been withdrawn from circulation. However, some may continue to allow you to swap them, while others may let you deposit old notes and coins into your account.
Barclays, Halifax, Lloyds, Nationwide, NatWest and Santander told us you can deposit old coins and notes into your account. However, PayPoint, which allows Monzo users to deposit cash into their accounts, said you'll have to go to the Bank of England to swap old notes.
- The Post Office will deposit old paper notes and coins into your bank account, which you can then withdraw. To do this, your bank will need to be signed up to receive cash deposits via the Post Office. You can check this on the Post office website, although many major providers are signed up. The Post Office told us this is a service it provides out of choice across all of its branches, but it's not something it has to do. You can't, however, do a direct cash swap at a post office.
- For notes only: If your bank or post office can't help, you can swap paper notes for polymer versions at the Bank of England. You can do this in person at the Bank of England (BoE) counter at Threadneedle Street, London. You may need to provide two original identity (ID) documents (this is mandatory for an exchange above £700).
You can also do this by post, which may be the only option for those who don't live or work in London – though if you do this, consider paying extra for a delivery service that provides compensation if your post goes missing. You can find out more on the Bank of England website. The BoE will not accept old coins.
- Alternatively, ask a friend to help. If your bank or post office won't accept your old notes and coins, and you can't get to the Bank or England or you're worried about sending cash in the post – see if a friend or family member can ask their bank or post office instead.
What to do with Scottish-issued £20 and £50 notes if you miss the deadline
Scottish paper £20 and £50 notes, which were issued by Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, and Royal Bank of Scotland, will be replaced by polymer ones after 30 September 2022.
It will be at the discretion of retailers and service providers as to whether to accept them after this, but they don't have to. So here's what to do with these old notes:
- Your bank may swap or deposit old paper notes. Bank of Scotland will accept deposits from its customers of old paper notes issued by any Scottish bank, while it will also exchange them for both customers and non-customers. Clydesdale Bank will exchange all Scottish-issued notes for its own customers (it allows non-customers to swap up to £250). Royal Bank of Scotland will exchange and accept paper note deposits from customers, while it will also exchange notes for non-customers.
- The Post Office will deposit old Scottish paper notes into your bank account, which you can then withdraw. To do this, your bank will need to be signed up to receive cash deposits via the Post Office. You can check this on the Post Office website, although many major providers are signed up. You can't, however, do a direct cash swap at a post office.
How to swap Northern Irish-issued £20 and £50 notes once they're pulled
Northern Irish paper £20 and £50 notes, which were issued by Bank of Ireland, Northern Bank Limited (which trades as Danske Bank) and NatWest Bank (which trades as Ulster Bank), will be replaced by polymer ones from 30 September 2022. AIB Group (previously trading as First Trust Bank), already withdrew its paper £20 and £50 notes from 30 June 2022 – it said it had done this sooner in response to an increase in online banking.
Again, it's at the discretion of retailers and service providers as to whether to accept notes after these deadlines, but they don't have to. So here's what to do with them:
- Your bank may swap or deposit old paper notes. AIB Group, Bank of Ireland, Northern Bank Limited and NatWest Bank will all exchange and deposit notes issued by any Northern Irish bank. NatWest Bank's own customers can exchange paper banknotes with no monetary limit, while non-customers can swap notes up to £250 in total.
- The Post Office will deposit old Northern Irish paper notes into your bank account, which you can then withdraw. To do this, your bank will need to be signed up to receive cash deposits via the Post Office. You can check this on the Post Office website, although many major providers are signed up. You can't, however, do a direct cash swap at a post office.
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