If you've still got any old-style £5 notes, beware – you only have until Friday (5 May) to spend them before they're officially withdrawn by the Bank of England. Here's what's happening and what you can do if you miss the deadline.
Following the launch of the new plastic fiver in September, older £5 notes featuring Elizabeth Fry are being gradually phased out and will cease to be legal tender from Friday.
It's only English £5 notes which are being replaced. Scottish and Northern Irish notes aren't affected – new Scottish £5 notes were launched last October but the older notes are being phased out gradually with no set withdrawal date.
It's believed over half of the older English £5 notes have already been taken out of circulation, and last month the Bank of England advised retailers to stop handing them out as change.
After Friday, shops won't be able to accept them as payment for goods and services. Automated machines won't be supposed to accept them either, though you may still find the odd one that does – it'll depend on whether the software's been updated in time.
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What to do if you still have an old fiver AFTER 5 May
If you happen to find an old-style £5 note tucked behind the sofa in the years ahead, fear not – while it won't be legal tender anymore, the Bank of England guarantees that all UK banknotes hold their value for "all time". That means you can still exchange it at face value with the Bank of England in London, in person or by post (at your own risk).
In practice though, you probably won't need to do that. Most banks and building societies will continue to accept deposits of the older £5 note even after 5 May – but the Bank of England stresses this is wholly "at the discretion of the individual institution".
Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds/Bank of Scotland, Nationwide, RBS and Santander all confirmed to us that they will accept deposits of the old £5 note from their own customers after Friday.
Even better, the Post Office told us it will accept deposits of old £5 notes after 5 May, from customers and non-customers. This is due to an agreement the Post Office has with all major UK banks which allows free day-to-day banking services at all of their branches. So if for example you've a Barclays account, you can use your local post office branch to deposit old £5 notes into that account.
It's worth noting the Bank of England's guarantee that £5 notes will hold their value DOESN'T apply to coins though, so beware when the older £1 is withdrawn in October. However, again, many banks will continue to accept old coins from their customers. See our Piggybank warning for more.
More currency changes in the pipeline
The old-style round £1 coin will be withdrawn on 15 October 2017, while new polymer £10 and £20 notes will be launched in September 2017 and in 2020 respectively.
The Bank of England has no current plans to replace the existing £50 note.