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What To Do with Old £20 and £50 Notes: A Guide to Exchanging Them

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A man and woman looking at exchanging notes.

Do you have old £20 and £50 notes lying around? Although they stopped being legal tender on 30th September 2022, they can still be exchanged for new notes. In this article, we will guide you through the process, ensuring that you don’t miss out on their worth!

Understanding the Bank of England's Policy for Exchanging Old Banknotes

The Bank of England plays a crucial role in issuing and regulating currency in the UK. It aims to maintain the stability of the UK’s financial system by ensuring that the banknotes in circulation are high quality and not counterfeit.

Introducing new plastic banknotes has made them more difficult to fake, so it’s a priority for the Bank of England to replace the old notes that are no longer legal tender. The Bank of England states that old notes can still be exchanged for new notes, and there is no deadline.

Where Can I Exchange My Old Banknotes?

There are a few different places you can exchange your old banknotes.

01. At Your Bank

If you have a UK bank account, depositing old notes is the quickest way to exchange them. However, you should first make sure that your bank still accepts exchanges.

02. By Post

You can post your old £20 and £50 notes to the Bank of England. You will need to complete a postal exchange form and send a photocopy of your ID with the old notes. They will then be transferred to your bank account.

Important note:

You send your notes in the post at your own risk. It may be safer to exchange them in person.

Our Expert's comment on the dangers of exchanging money through the post:

Financial Expert Andrew Hagger.

I would advise against sending old banknotes to be exchanged through postal services. It’s important to prioritise the safety and security of your financial assets. Sending valuable items such as banknotes through the post carries risks, including potential loss, theft, or damage during transit.

By opting for in-person exchanges at authorised financial institutions, you can bypass the risks associated with postal services, protect the value of your banknotes, and maintain peace of mind regarding the security of your financial transactions.

— Andrew Hagger, at Consolidation Expert.

03. At Some Post Offices

You can exchange certain notes at some Post Offices. These include:

  • Elizabeth Fry paper £5 note
  • Charles Darwin paper £10 note
  • Adam Smith paper £20 note
  • Boulton and Watt paper £50 note

The maximum value you can exchange at the Post Office is £300 in a two-year period.

04. At the Bank of England Counter

You can exchange notes at The Bank of England Counter at Threadneedle Street, London. However, it can get extremely busy and may not be the best option if you live outside of London.

How to Identify Old £20 and £50 Notes

Before you embark on your exchange journey, it’s important to correctly identify the old £20 and £50 notes. The most noticeable difference between the old and new notes is that the old notes are made of paper, whereas the new notes are plastic. The new notes also have a see-through window, hologram feature, and brail for blind people to read, whereas the old notes have none of these features.

What steps Do I Need to Take to Exchange My Old Bank Notes?

01. Verify the Authenticity of the Notes

When dealing with old banknotes, it’s important to verify their authenticity. You won’t be able to exchange counterfeit notes, so remember to check the security features before you take them to the bank. Although fake banknotes are rare, if you do find one, you should take it to your nearest police station.

02. Decide Where You Will Exchange Your Notes

To exchange your old £20 and £50 notes, you’ll need to choose an authorised exchange point. This could be your bank, the Bank of England counter, or a post office. Only some post offices offer the service, though, so make sure to check on the Post Office website for your nearest participating branch. Always remember to carry proper identification to your chosen exchange point!

03. Prepare Your Notes for Exchange

To make the process faster, it’s helpful to prepare your old notes before you get to the exchange point. Organise them neatly and make sure they’re all facing the same way, with minimal creases. Presenting your notes in good condition could result in a more efficient exchange experience.

04. Exchange Your Old Banknotes

Now it’s finally time to exchange your old banknotes. Make your way to your chosen exchange point and present your ID and your old banknotes. You may need to fill out some paperwork before your old notes are exchanged for new ones or deposited into your bank.

What If I Have Damaged Banknotes?

Sometimes old banknotes may be damaged or partially destroyed. If you have any damaged banknotes, don’t worry, they may still be able to be exchanged. The Bank of England has policies in place to handle damaged or contaminated banknotes. As a general rule, they can reimburse you for a genuine banknote if you still have at least half of it.

By following these simple steps, you can easily exchange your old £20 and £50 notes and ensure they don’t go to waste. Remember to verify the authenticity of your notes, locate authorised exchange points, and prepare the notes for exchange before visiting. The Bank of England’s guidelines and policies are there to ensure a secure and efficient process. So, don’t let those forgotten banknotes gather dust. Take action, exchange them, and put their value to good use. Happy exchanging!

In addition to taking care of your old banknotes, it’s essential to consider your overall financial well-being. If you have multiple debts you want to consolidate, Consolidation Expert may be able to help. A consolidation loan could help to combine your debts into one loan with an affordable monthly payment!

Representative 14.8% APR

We are a broker, not a lender.

Representative Example: Borrowing £15,000 over 60 months, repaying £355.28 per month, total repayable £21,316.57.

Total cost of credit £6,316.57.

Interest rate 14.8% (variable).

The lenders on our panel offer loans for 12-360 months, with rates from 4.7% APR to 42.6% APR.

The Representative Example is based on all loans paid out by lenders between 1st Jan 2022 and 31st Dec 2022.

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