Since the introduction of the new polymer £5 notes back in September last year, there’s been fewer and fewer of the old fivers being circulated. In fact I’d struggle to tell you the last time I’ve seen one.
There are however still 165 million still in circulation at the moment, and soon you won’t be able to spend them in the high street. The old paper fivers will no longer be legal tender on Friday May 5th as their legal tender status is being withdrawn.
So you can’t spend them after that date, but what happens if you get one in your change when you’re out shopping? And what happens if you find some tucked away somewhere after May 5th?
Well, shops have been instructed not to hand over any old £5 notes as change, although that doesn’t mean if can’t or won’t happen. So, if it does, and if you are handed one, you do have the right to ask for it to be exchanged for a new one, or for pound coins instead.
Some headlines I’ve come across recently have been saying that the old notes will be worthless past May 5th. Don’t panic, they’re not worthless; you can exchange them at Banks, Building Societies and Post Offices.
If, on a rare occasion they won’t exchange them, you can do so with The Bank of England in London, by post. All Bank of England notes never lose their face value, so if you find one down the back of your sofa in a few months’ time, or in an old pair of jeans, don’t worry, you won’t be out of pocket.
The new polymer notes are cleaner, safer and stronger than the old cotton paper notes are, and with this in mind, The Bank of England will be introducing new versions of the £10 and £20 notes. The new polymer £10 note will be released this September featuring Jane Austen, and there are also plans to introduce a new £20 note in 2020, which will feature British painter JW Turner.