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No More Pennies – So What Happens Now?

5 February 2013

The last penny was minted in the spring of 2012 and originally, it was thought they’d be taken out of circulation completely starting in September of last year. That date was pushed back to February of 2013 and guess what? We’re here, and in fact, yesterday was the first day that the Canadian mint stopped distributing the small bits of copper. The question for consumers is, what happens now?

Well, don’t be surprised if you purchase something in a store and when you go to pay cash for it, your amount is rounded either up or down. Something comes up as $11.97? You might be charged an even $12.00 for it. Does the total come out to $7.01? You could be asked to pay only $7 for it. This is because consumers and businesses are both being encouraged to stop using and accepting pennies, and instead start rounding either up or down to the nearest nickel.

No one really knows whether or not businesses will start doing this, at least until they get the new software that will round up purchases for them – and that’s something they’re not keen to do. Because of the cost involved in the entire process, this has actually been the biggest argument against taking out the penny. Although the cost of making a penny is more than a penny itself (1.6 cents), the cost to businesses to convert their tills to the new system will be significant.

And businesses don’t have to start phasing out pennies if they don’t want to. The Ministry of Finance website says that pennies can still be used “indefinitely with businesses that choose to accept them.”

But, all of this only matters if you’re paying cash for your transactions. If you’re paying by cheque (if you can find a store that stills accepts them,) or debit or credit card, your purchases will still come out to a total to the exact penny – with no rounding.

Are you confused by the processes involved in slowly getting rid of the penny? Do you like the idea of rounding your purchases up or down, or do you prefer to pay to the exact penny?

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