If somebody hands you a plastic fiver this week as part payment for a job or as change at the supermarket checkout, then please resist the urge to laugh them out of town and ask where the real money is!
No, instead you’ll do well to take pride in the fact that you are one of the first people in the UK to get your hands on a new polymer £5 note that came into circulation today – Tuesday September 13th 2016.
Why introduce a new note?
There are a few different reasons why the Bank of England has seen the need to bring the new polymer bank notes into circulation. The first is durability, as the new plastic bank notes are expected to last up to 5 years in comparison to the two-year life expectancy of the current paper notes.
The second reason is security, with new security features – including a new transparent window – supposedly making these polymer notes much more difficult to fake or counterfeit. The new notes are also expected to be easier to use for blind or partially-sighted people.
What does it look like?
Image Source – Bank Of England
The most noticeable feature of the new polymer fiver is the image of Winston Churchill featured on the back of the note. The note is also around 15% smaller than the old paper version, which might feel a little strange at first.
Is it just fivers that are changing?
For now, it is only the five pound note that is changing over to polymer but there are plans to introduce a polymer £10 note (featuring Jane Austen) in the summer of 2017 and a polymer £20 by 2020.
Where can you get one?
If you just can’t wait to get hold of a new polymer £5 note then I’m afraid that you may have to be a little patient, as it is expected that most people are going to have to wait for around a week before getting their hands on the note.
The notes will first be introduced at a handful of banks and ATMs, with cash machines in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Hull and Cardiff being among the first to dispense them. Don’t despair, though, as it’s expected that most other banks will have them in stock by the end of the week.
What to watch out for
While getting hit with a fake note will obviously be a big fear for many when it comes to using the new notes there is also one other sticking point – pardon the pun – in that the brand new polymer notes can easily stick together, so be careful that you don’t give someone a tenner by accident!
Will I still be able to use my old fiver?
While you will still be able to use the old paper five pound notes for now, you will only be able to do so until the 5th of May 2017, as this is when the Bank of England expects most of the notes will have been removed from circulation.
Main Image Source – Bank of England