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The US, like Canada tried to introduce a $1 coin awhile back to reduce minting costs of the $1 paper bill. This was successful in Canada but not so much in the States. Why was it not widely adopted? Are these coins still available in circulation?

  • I've got a dozen of 'em in my filing cabinet over here, and more elsewhere - mostly change from Caltrain or VTA ticket machines, a few from elsewhere. They go into the vending machines and parking meters just fine. – fennec May 28 '10 at 23:50
  • Based on responses below this sounds a lot like the metric system. We were forced to switch in Canada but the US protested. :-D – Zephyr Jun 1 '10 at 18:13
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    @Zephyr you'll take the imperial system and paper dollars out of their cold dead arms. And they'll keep their arms even then. – littleadv Jun 15 '16 at 5:50
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I like the coins. (They're fun to leave as tips.)

I think almost everyone else I know thinks they're a pain in the butt. They are a bit more inconvenient than dollar bills.

As for why they're often in post offices, they have to be. The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 mandates that vending machines at various types of businesses accept them.

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    Dollar coins, a pain in the butt? Try getting $18 in change in quarters. :) – fennec Jun 1 '10 at 15:11
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They are certainly still in circulation, and there are new versions being minted. I think one of the big reasons they haven't caught on, is that not many vending machines have been retrofitted to take the new coin, while they do take the one dollar bill. Also many people here are just not comfortable with the new coin.

  • actually new ones are not being minted any more. they still mint annual collection sets, but not for circulation. There are way too much in storage already – littleadv Jun 15 '16 at 5:47
  • catalog.usmint.gov/coin-programs/presidential-dollar-coins looks like they are still finishing the president series, in volume, not just the high priced collector sets. 100 & 250 size purchase is about 10% over face value. Agreed there's way too much inventory. But they were committed to finish the set up to Reagan. – JoeTaxpayer Jun 15 '16 at 9:50
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The current coins are the presidential series. 40+ coins issued 4 per year. You can get them in rolls of 25 at the bank or order on line. I use them, but have never gotten one back in change. On a side note, years ago I ordered a pack of $2 bills from my bank, I think they came 1000 at a time. The lunch lady at school asked my daughter to stop using them, she had no space. The toll takers hated them, same reason, I guess. Given the cost of the coin vs paper and how long each last, they should stop printing $1 bills here.

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    $2 bills are an awesome kid gift because the kid doesn't realize they are just worth $2. People always save $2USD bills instead of spend them in my experience. (Or pester lunch ladies and toll takers) – MrChrister May 27 '10 at 21:22
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    @MrChrister I've met people who didn't believe $2 bills are real. A lot of people are not aware of them and think these are forgeries when they get to see one. – littleadv Jun 15 '16 at 5:48
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Why was it not widely adopted?

I think there are a couple of key differences.

The first is that the "susan B" dollar coin was regarded as unattractive and easy to confuse with a quarter. When canada released the loonie a few years later they learned from this mistake and made the coin in a style that was more fitting for a high denomination coin while still being similar enough to the US one to make life easy for vending machine makers.

Secondly as far as I can tell Canada forced the issue. A couple of years after introducing the loonie they stopped issuing dollar bills. So those requiring a $1 denomination for making change had no choice but to accept the coins. The US on the other hand kept issuing dollar bills and merchants kept ordering them in preference to coins. The US was left with a big stockpile of dollar coins and stopped minting new ones while it worked thorugh the stockpile.

Are these coins still available in circulation?

While the "Susan B" was not a wild success it did see some use from the vending machine and mass transit industries and the stockpile was gradually depleted. This resulted in a final run of Susan B dollars in 1999 followed by the introduction of the "Sacawega" dollar in 2000.

The US had another go at trying to push dollar coins in the late 2000s with various native american and presidential designs in the hope of stirring up interest and getting people to use the coins but again they didn't force the issue, again reception was lackluster and again they ended up with a big stockpile of coins.

As I understand it the US is currently still issuing dollar coins from the stockpile built up in the late 2000s. They are also minting new designs in reduced numbers for sale to collectors.

  • Also, Canada introduced the "twoonie" -- a $2 coin -- which solved the problem of pocket change getting too heavy. If the US did that, and made both coins more distinct from existing change, I believe they would be accepted much better than the SBA and Sacajawea dollar coins have been. Though since we don't put royalty on our coinage, we'll never match the wonderful pun describing the twoonie's markings as "the Queen with a bear behind." – keshlam Jun 15 '16 at 4:19
  • @keshlam The US has $2 bills. If we replaced $1 bills with $2 bills, then that would eliminate the change problem too. But people don't have any reason to prefer a $1 coin to a $1 bill. The mint prefers them because coins last longer and hold more value when recycled. But that doesn't help make individuals want to carry them. Also, unless they get rid of the penny at the same time, most stores don't have anywhere to keep them. To make a $2 coin feasible, they'd probably have to get rid of both pennies and nickels. And replace quarters with a $.20 or $.50 coin. – Brythan Jun 15 '16 at 15:20
  • Either way, it requires a willingness to outright kill the $1 bill. Given that half the government is revolting -- pick your sense -- I don't see simple common sense measures happening any time soon. – keshlam Jun 15 '16 at 16:06
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I've noticed that you are far more likely to get $1 and 50 cent coins as change at US post offices for some reason.

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Not many folks like them, so that's why you see so few in circulation, but what is astounding is that the US government made so many of them. Old article here reporting $1 billion of those coins sitting unused in Federal Reserve vaults in 2011, expected to grow to $2 billion by 2016 because of laws mandating their production.

  • That's about 6 for each person in the US. So if each family got about 1 roll of 25, we would absorb all that excess. – JoeTaxpayer Jun 15 '16 at 21:40

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