Time’s ticking and it’s the end for old paper £5 notes, because from midnight on the 5 May 2017, they ceased to be legal tender. But the Bank of England estimate that there are still around 150 million paper fivers out there – so, rummage down the back of the sofa, raid the kids’ piggy banks and check the pockets of those old jeans, and if you find any – you need to know what to do as you won’t be able to spend them anymore.
But don’t worry, if you discover an old fiver at the stroke of midnight then it won’t turn into a pumpkin, and it’ll still be worth £5. Most banks will let you swap your old note for a new one if you’re a customer. And if you discover one in six months’ time while clearing out the attic, then it’s not quite panic stations, because the Bank of England will accept them indefinitely, giving you a shiny new one in its place.
So, what happens to all these old notes once they make their way back home to the Bank of England? Well, they get recycled and are composted to make soil improver – so whilst the fields of England may not be paved with gold, they are fertilised with fivers.
Anyone eagle-eyed will also notice that the removal of the old £5 note means that there are no longer any other women, but the Queen, to feature on any English notes. The replacement fivers (made of a long lasting polymer) picture Sir Winston Churchill, whereas the old one showed Jane Austen. But fear not feminists and literary lovers, Jane will make a comeback on the new £10 note that enters circulation in September 2017.
If your quest to find undiscovered £5 notes at home leads to a fruitful find, then why not take the opportunity to stash the cash away for a rainy day? You can compare cash ISAs and savings accounts right here; and if money’s simply too tight to mention, then take a look at whether a credit card or loan could give you some breathing space. But remember – money might be fertiliser, but it doesn’t grow on trees – spend it wisely.