I’ve got an issue that is really starting to bother me as a collector of pennies (or one-cent coins), and it’s a complaint I’m sure very few people have – especially among those who don’t collect coins. I’m talking about getting my change rounded to the nearest nickel on cash transactions. It's been happening a lot to me in recent months, and twice just this week alone. Now, you might think I’m crazy for complaining about getting my change rounded to the nearest nickel, especially when the rounding is up. But, if you're a coin collector and you let me kindly explain a bit further you may understand where I’m coming from.
You see, I’ve been checking my change for certain scarcer or more unusual pennies ever since my adolescence in the early 1990s. I’ve made many decent finds simply in the coins I receive from cash transactions. These more noteworthy pieces include wheat cents, minor die clashes and off-center errors, some neat foreign coins, and the like. More recently I’ve added pre-1982 bronze cents to my list of keepers.
Sure, I can check rolls for these pennies, and I do quite often. But I’ve usually got to go to my bank for that. For most of the 27 years I’ve been an active coin collector, I’ve been checking my change -- every last coin. And it’s always great to get 87, 93, or 98 cents in change, because it means I’ll get not just a few quarters but also some pennies – where some of the best finds can still be made.
So, when I order something at a coffee shop or fast-food restaurant and use cash to complete the transaction -- something I still do on a fairly regular basis -- I become quite disappointed if the cashier rounds my change to the nearest nickel. Sure, I could request exact change only. But I don't have the heart to ask the cashier to recount the change so I get my pennies. And, I may want my pennies but I'm not going to be a complain-y customer, either. But, suffice it to say I’d gladly forfeit three or four cents in extra change back for the thrill of going through a handful of coins and looking for something worthy of keeping.
I shouldn’t be surprised that we as a society are moving further away from handing out pennies in change. Canada’s been doing this for years now, rounding up or down change to the nearest nickel since the discontinuation of that nation’s circulating one-cent coin in 2012. And there’s been talk of abolishing the United States one-cent coin since at least my childhood in the 1980s. Still, it seems most Americans love their pennies. According to a 2019 poll by Americans for Common Cents some 68%, or more than two-thirds of respondents, want to keep the one-cent coin. Count me among them. And when I’m due an odd amount of change? Please just get those pennies off your hands and give them to me (thank you)!