Follow TV Tropes


Paying in Coins

Go To
Good luck asking him for a tip.
Ice Cream Man: It is first day on job; everything is going great, until you come. You wanted most expensive ice cream; I make suggestion of cheaper ice cream, but no, you want expensive one. And after I am giving you ice cream... you pay with pennies. Do you know how long it took me to count those pennies?
Dexter: Um... at an average human rate, I'd estimate about five hours and thirty-three minutes?
Ice Cream Man: Precisely...
Dexter's Laboratory, "Ice Cream Scream"

You go to a store, and buy your things. You check out, and you don't have more than the total. No credit cards either. Instead, you must pay in exact change, but all you got is a really huge number of coins. This is either used as a last resort without going in debt, Just for Fun, protesting the recipient, or as a metaphor of something. The clerk can either try to count all of it, or trusts the customer and accepts the coins.

In reality, we've found methods of exchanging large sums of money without actually presenting large sums of money. For instance, you get a mortgage to buy a house. You get a paycheck every week, not $300 in cash per week. You have cashier's cheques to move large sums of money from one bank account to another. And in the United States and Canada, debit cards and prepaid cards are so common for use by people who don't have credit cards that almost nobody buys travelers checks anymore.

However, if you walk into a car dealership and offer to buy a car on the spot without financing, holding fists full of $100 bills, then this trope comes into effect.

On more expensive things, such as a luxury yacht, a Briefcase Full of Money can be used instead if a Zillion-Dollar Bill isn't available. May be the result of Ridiculous Future Inflation and Ridiculous Exchange Rates. Cheap Gold Coins is a related trope. Truth in Television.


    open/close all folders 
    Anime & Manga 
  • Princess Princess has a crossover Omake where Tohru and Yujirou runs into a kid who intends to buy a hamburger with nothing but 1 yen coins, and freaks out when he loses one. He doesn't even get the price right, meaning that he wouldn't be able to get what he wants even if he didn't lose his money. Tohru and Yujirou ended up pitying the kid and buying him a meal set.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In Zio Paperone e il segreto di Cuordipietra, Flintheart Glomgold abducts Huey, Dewey and Louie, takes them to an artificial island and demands a cubic hectare of money from Scrooge as ransom. Scrooge pays the ransom in coins and it does more than merely annoying Glomgold. The cubic hectare's weight is so much the island sinks with it. Scrooge already has a special submarine to reclaim the coins.

    Comic Strips 
  • Crankshaft once took his bus to a museum and paid for the kids' lunch using two full Swear Jars of pennies.
  • In the German comic strip Oskar, the family uses pennies to pay for their new car. It's The Alleged Car, but still.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Turning Red, Mei and her friends raise $700 in the form of mostly $5 bills and present it to the SkyDome ticket booth attendant in a lunchbox full of cash.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • American Underdog: After running out of gas during a snowstorm, Kurt runs a few miles back to the nearest gas station where he pays with a couple dollar bills and whatever change they could scrounge together in the vehicle.
  • On The Coneheads, Prymaat zaps a vending machine and they use the quarters to pay for a motel room.
  • In Confessions of a Shopaholic, the title character has racked up a sizeable debt and is hounded throughout the film by an Evil Debt Collector. After he embarrasses her on national TV, she finally pays it off — by filling his office with jars of coins.
  • In The Hebrew Hammer, Mordecai finds himself in Duke's, a skinhead bar, while chasing a lead. Amusingly, the racist bartender has a bottle of the Jewish wine Mordecai requests and he repays the bartender's naked loathing with a handful of shekels dropped onto the countertop.
  • In The People vs. Larry Flynt, Flynt paid a $10,000 contempt-of-court fine by having two hookers bring a garbage bag full of one dollar bills into the courtroom.
  • Room For Rent has Joyce resort to this for a few cans of catfood after her credit card was declined, aptly showing just how bad her financial situation has gotten.

  • A man drinks a beer in a bar, is unhappy about the service and pays the 2.50 in pennies. The barkeeper can't do anything about it, since the amount isn't big enough, but secretly swears revenge. Months or years later, the man returns, has forgotten about everything, and orders a beer. This time, he pays with a 5$ (or €) note. The barkeeper uses the opportunity to give him the change in pennies. The man remembers now, but just shrugs: "I think I'll have another beer, then."

  • In Alex Rider: Eagle Strike, Damian Cray pulls a lethal version of this on one of his henchmen. The henchman agreed to work for Cray in exchange for a $2million bribe, and when he screws up and attracts unwanted attention from a journalist, Cray punishes him by locking him in a bottle-shaped chamber and giving him his money — $2 million in quarters, crushing him to death.
  • In The Belgariad, This was one of Silk's scams against toll collectors. He pays a bribe with Mallorean half-pennies, lampshading this with the fact that they are currency, just a pitifully small amount. This was also a callback to an earlier scam, where he just used gravel instead of the gold pebbles and dust the miners were expecting.
  • In the Spider Robinson novel The Callahan Touch, the third of three wishes granted by a magical clurichaun is that he legitimately pay for the enormous amount of alcohol he consumed. So he pays in gold coins -- LOTS of gold coins, as he had nearly cleaned out every last drop in the bar.
  • In Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill, Online Supermarket requires whomever uses the skill, once their order is assembled, to pay for it before delivery. Since there are no credit cards and no paper money, the person ordering is Paying in Coins (by putting them onto a magic square that appears and acts like a "coin slot"). Once their payment is complete, their order magically appears in front of them.
  • In Interesting Times, one of the Lemony Narrator's comments about Six Beneficial Winds's low-grade unpleasantness is that he keeps change in a small purse, and counts it very carefully when buying things, especially if there's a queue.
  • Intruder in the Dust: Lucas pays his defense attorney's fee (which is admittedly under a dollar, given how the case never went to trial) in pennies and then demands a receipt, at least partially to rub in how Gavin prejudged him and thought he was guilty.
  • In The Keys of the Kingdom, one of the complaints against the poor Catholic priest being investigated by the bishop is that he pays for candles for the church in pennies. He muses, "That's how it comes to me."
  • In the Mercedes Lackey novel Tiger Burning Bright, a horse trader responds to the outrageously high hike in the business license fee by the city's new ruler by paying it in large sacks of the smallest denomination of coin he could find — sacks which had carefully weakened seams, causing them to rip open while the debt collectors were taking them away.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game On: At the end of "Palms, Pigs, and Bad Debts", Mandy pays Martin her rent arrears in 50p coins (all gotten from the gains she made from the Claire Box). There are at least a thousand pounds that are paid in 50p coins and it's enough to be stored in several bags.
  • Gilmore Girls: Rory was short on cash at one point and paid for a coffee in change. A minor example, since the total was only around $2.50, but still in the spirit of the trope.
  • In Happy Endings, Max has to pay rent in pennies, pouring them out of a jug into the landlord's desk, because he had no job. At the end of the episode, he offers to pay for dinner after winning a lot of money, but pours out pennies from the same jug, because "pennies are the only currency I trust."
  • Invoked on iCarly. Carly, Sam and Freddie agree to promote a new sneaker on their show, and got paid $8000 a week. They were to be cut a check, but Sam then insisted on cash. Cue a bunch of ad executives digging in their pockets for $8000 in bills. When they got bought out of the contract for $30,000, Carly then insists on being paid in cash.
  • Impractical Jokers: In one game, Joe has to hide from a hooker after paying her with Canadian quarters.
  • In one of Jinnai Tomonori's comedy skits, he gets fed up with his bank's crazy and uncooperative ATM, so he decides to just withdraw all his money and close his account. The ATM obliges by dispensing his 1 million yen in coins.
  • In an old episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Ted owes Murray a few dollars, and keeps putting him off by asking if Murray has change for a $500 bill. At the end of the show, Murray indicates he does this nickels. The bags come out from under the desk...
  • An episode of Seinfeld had Kramer collecting change to use the apartment's dryer so his clothes would be warm when he got dressed. Then, after deciding to use Jerry's oven instead, tries to pay for George's calzones with loose change, pissing off the store owner. The episode's stinger has him paying a debt by tossing a pillowcase of coins at someone, knocking them over.
  • In The Thin Blue Line, Fowler and Goody are in an slow queue at the bank, headed by a customer paying in coins, very slowly. When Fowler suddenly shouts, the customer knocks over his pile of coins, and has to start again.
  • The Young Ones: Used as a combination Brick Joke and Funny Background Event in "Summer Holiday". When Neil is giving his long moan about banks, one of the things he says is "And anyway, whichever queue we're in, the guy in front of us is bound to be from the penny arcade across the road, cashing up the whole year with millions of pennies". Later, during the actual bank robbery, the customers hit the floor and one of the people in the queue is shown to have a wheelbarrow full of coins.

  • Ska band The W's, in their song "Stupid", referenced the Urban Legend of the man arrested for stealing from vending machines, who managed to further incriminate himself when he posted bail:
    Well he swore that he was innocent
    so he paid off his bail and home he went.
    But soon back to jail our hero was sent
    because he paid off his bail with quarters and dimes.
  • The little boy in "The Christmas Shoes" is paying for the title shoes in pennies, counting them "for what seemed like years", adding to the massive amount of pathos inherent in the song's narrative.

  • In The Goon Show episode "The Canal", Bluebottle (as the accredited agent of Lloyds of London) arrives to pay out insurance of £40,000 — in pennies, counted one by one. He gets as far as 4,000,832 pennies (roughly £16,670) before Eccles drops the hat he's counting them out into, and has to start again.
  • A Running Gag in The Now Show is the little old lady who has to very carefully count out the exact change in pennies and tuppences when in front of you at the supermarket or post office.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In 1st Edition, a gold piece is worth 200 copper pieces. Many monster treasures have thousands of almost worthless copper pieces. Since moneychangers often charge a significant fee (e.g. 10%) for changing copper pieces into higher denomination coins, a PC might decide to pay for a purchase with bags full of coppers, providing they have the means to carry so much weight around.
    • A module for Edition 3.5 has an example where doing this is to your advantage. You run across some barbarian halflings who use a barter system — which means 1 gold piece (weighing about 1 third of an ounce, or 7.5 grams) is not much use to to them. However, the equivalent in copper pieces (100cp = 1 gp in this edition) means 2 pounds of metal they can melt down and use.
    • One The Order of the Stick strip in Dragon has Haley claim that copper pieces are almost entirely useless (mostly to trick Belkar into leaving them for her to stuff in a Bag of Holding). An Imagine Spot shows an adventurer with a huge heap of copper pouring off a table and pooling around his feet, attempting to buy a single potion from a very unimpressed shopkeeper.
    • While adventurers work primarily with finances involving gold, platinum and magic items, commoners count their income in coppers and maybe silvers and can be very grateful for your generosity. If you're planning to stay in the region for some time, unloading those sacks of "worthless" copper at a local farm can easily earn you lifelong friends, free room and board, somewhere safe to stash important things, and maybe even a hideaway from the law. All for a heavy sack of junk that could barely buy you a potion.
  • In the Shadowrun universe, the Great Dragon Lofwyr buys the majority of heavy industrial corporation Saeder-Krupp stocks with gold from his hoard, although it isn't specified if it's tons of gold coins or in another form.

    Video Games 
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the main currency is the Septim, a simple Gold Coin with the profile of Tiber Septim on one side (hence the name) and the Imperial Dragon on the other (which leads to their informal name of "drakes"). As no higher integer of currency exists, making large purchases (such as high-level equipment or player houses) essentially entails dumping thousands of gold coins on the lap of the seller. Thankfully, Septims are weightless, which leads to players carrying around thousands or even millions of them (thanks to the series plentiful Money for Nothing).
  • In the Fallout series, the first game's currency was bottlecaps; something problematic since it had weight and took up inventory volume. This could lead to situations where you would prefer to carry more valuable trade items (like the weightless healing supplies) rather than thousands of caps. Amended in the following games where a separate non-inventory coinage was added or caps became weightless.
  • Fate/Grand Order: One of Ibaraki-Douji's vile acts is paying Emiya in small-denomination QP for a load of snacks near the end of the second Summer event.
  • With Betrayal at Krondor, like Fallout, there was a heavy emphasis on bartering for goods and juggling an individual inventory encumbrance, but there were also silver and gold coins you could pick up (that went into your coin purse); you would have to farm quests several times to get the thousands of coins needed to buy new things (over looting the corpses of your enemies for slightly used, but sometimes rare and valuable, supplies that has to take up your limited pack space).
  • The player can invoke this in Odin Sphere. You have to manually select the coins you want to pay with when buying things. The coins vary from the cheap Ragnanival Silver (worth 1G) to the rare and valuable Commemorative Coin (worth 20G). It's not only possible but recommended to buy expensive things and pay them with a truckload of Ragnan Silver, for several reasons: one, stacks of coins take up valuable inventory space, so getting rid of small change is crucial until larger backpacks become available. And two, the Pooka restaurant and cafe only accept the Valentinian coins, in specific denominations for specific recipes, requiring the player to save those coins for the restaurants rather than spend them at other stores. (In the remaster the currency system has been streamlined so that coins no longer take up inventory space and Valentinian coins are only accepted at the Pooka restaurants, so the trope ceases to apply.)
  • Untold Legends: Loren Haggard, the vendor in the market, sells weapons, armor, jewelry accessories that buff stats, items that buff weapons/armor, and Health/Power/Rejuvenation Vials for gold coins (Aven doesn't have credit cards or checks, but the gold doesn't take up space or have weight). He likewise buys all of types of extra (especially if you don't have the level for using it or you have a better item) but for less gold than he'd sell for.


    Web Original 
  • Entry #7 in Cracked's photoplasty contest "20 Tiny Changes That Would Ruin Famous Technologies" features a cash machine from which money is withdrawn as a bucketful of pennies.
  • Darwin Awards has this unconfirmed account:
    (1996, Rhode Island) Portsmouth police charged Gregory Rosa, 25, with a string of vending machine robberies in January. He was captured when he inexplicably fled from police when they spotted him loitering around a vending machine. Suspicions were confirmed when he later tried to post $400 bail in coins.
  • Not Always Right:
    • This customer has way too many coins in his fanny pack. "THEY'RE BREEDING!"
    • These customers do it as a prank ... which backfires when the cashier calmly keeps them there and counts it all out ... twice. It would have been three times, but at that point they magically produce a twenty, scoop up as many coins as they can, and flee.
    • This guy tried it in Canada ... where they can refuse to accept it.
    • This guy pays for a $29.99 World of Warcraft subscription with a bag full of quarters. On Black Friday.
  • A satire site claimed that Samsung paid off its $1.05 billion fine to Apple by sending them dumptrucks full of nickels. Snopes covers it here.

    Web Video 
  • A joke about this features in this Cracked TV episode.
  • When Strong Bad stumbles upon the Compe in a catalog, he immediately pulls out his bag of 80,000 pennies to pay for it (it crushes his mailbox).
  • Super Playify: Convictor complains about (in-game) being paid in one-dollar bills.
  • In the SuperMarioLogan episode, "Evil Chef Pee Pee!", when Bowser Junior accidentally kills Chef Pee Pee by dropping a frozen water balloon on his head, Craig the Devil comes to collect his soul. Junior makes a deal with Craig to bring him back to life, and Craig makes Junior buy a Hershey's candy bar with pennies.
  • This YouTube channel has videos of services being paid in pennies.

    Western Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force:
    • In "Super Computer", Carl tried to pay for a hooker's services with a giant jar of pennies, and is offended she wouldn't accept it. He gets knocked out a moment later by the Phlebotinum of the episode. The hooker leaves, dragging the jar of pennies with her.
    • In the penultimate episode, Carl gives Shake $20 in Susan B. Anthony coins to pay a hooker with, because he loves the irony of paying for a sex act with a feminist icon.
  • A Christmas Episode of Arthur had the title character paying for his mom's present out of a coin jar. The cashier fell asleep waiting for him to count it all out.
  • In Craig of the Creek episode "Turning The Tables", Craig, JP, and Kelsey pay for their meal with a sock full of saved up coins.
  • In the Chowder episode "Schnitzel Makes a Deposit", the woman in the bank line ahead of Schnitzel and Chowder deposits two hundred dollops in change. As if the elderly and slow teller wasn't enough, Chowder kept causing the elderly bank teller to lose count and had to keep starting over.
  • Dexter's Laboratory:
    • An Ice Cream Man's deep-seated grudge against Dexter in "Ice Cream Scream" turns out to be from Dexter paying for an ice cream (the most expensive one on stock, by the way) with a ridiculously large jar of pennies, an accident which manages to systematically ruin the Ice Cream Man's entire life. After the Ice Cream Man explains this to Dexter and the latter apologizes, Dexter buys a regular ice cream (which costs $1.50)... and pays with a $100 bill. The Ice Cream Man's anguished shriek says everything.
    • The episode "Repairanoid" has an electrician coming to Dexter's house, discovering his lab, and repairing what he can, figuring it's just a normal part of the house. Although the electrician's $40,000 bill shocks Dexter's mom (she doesn't know about Dex's lab) at first, she quickly shifts to an agreeable tone and takes out her purse to pay — by withdrawing coins one at a time and counting them. The electrician doesn't protest, and the episode ends as she just begins the payment.
  • Done in an episode of Family Guy where Stewie is held up in line in a supermarket due to Bruce, after quibbling over having one item over the 10 Items Or Less limit, asks to pay for it all in pennies.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: In "Read Em' and Weep", Cheese sends a letter to Frankie, having mistaken her for a man trying to sell him something he wants to buy on television. He sends her $8.95 in pennies, and she is not amused.
  • Gravity Falls: In "The Stanchurian Candidate", when Stan is at the grocery shop, Robbie expects him to pay in pennies because he's old.
  • In an episode of Johnny Bravo, a demon tries to get Johnny do some evil deeds, including going into an 10 items or less line at a grocery store with 11 items and then paying in Canadian pennies. This plan backfires though as one of the pennies is a rare coin that the cashier has been trying to find her whole life.
  • A Looney Tunes cartoon called "Wild Wife" details all of the annoyances a typical 1950s housewife has to go through in her day. One of them was going to the bank and having an old woman deposit a large amount of money in pennies. The housewife switches to another line when it clears up, only to be cut off by another old lady doing the same thing.
  • Megas XLR: In "All I Wanted Was a Slushie", after having spent most of his cash that ends us being lost thanks to the R.E.G.I.S, Coop tries paying for a mega-slush in coins and then has to start counting again after losing track.
  • In the The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Moral Decay", the girls receive Sacagawea dollars for cleaning up the house, but then Bubbles receives another Sacagawea dollar from the Tooth Fairy after Buttercup accidentally knocks one of her teeth out. Buttercup then proceeds to knock the teeth out of numerous villains and starts hoarding the money she receives, eventually going too far and continuing to punch the teeth out of the villains when they're minding their own business. When the villains knock Buttercup's teeth out as retribution after Blossom and Bubbles learn what she was doing behind their backs, the Professor uses Buttercup's bag of Sacagawea dollars to pay off her dental bills.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer once tried to pay a $900 gas bill by sending a water-cooler bottle full of pennies in the mail. When he puts it down next to the mailbox, it falls into the earth.
      Hello? China? A little help?
    • Offscreen, in "Bart the Lover", the family pays for a doghouse from the change inside a Swear Jar.
    • Bart pays for his fat camp in "The Heartbroken Kid" with two bags of change robbed from the vending machines he got fat eating from.
    • When Homer starts getting fed up with Marge's nervous penny-pinching in "Mobile Homer", he takes her savings jar and uses it for the down payment of a motor home.
  • In Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne, Lucy is able to rent a run-down ballroom for her party with all of the nickels Charlie Brown has paid her throughout the year.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "One Krab's Trash" the guy that offered Mr. Krabs $100,000 for the hat emphasized that it's in cash. Also the same for the others trying to buy the hat.
    • In "The Cent of Money", Mr. Krabs' hospital bill was paid entirely in the coins he stole throughout the episode. A case of Laser-Guided Karma, as those coins caused him to go to the hospital in the first place.
    • In "Sponge-Cano!", a customer try to pay for his Krabby Patty with pennies. Squidward doesn't let him. (He was in a real bad mood)
    • In "Squid's On a Bus", SpongeBob pays the bus fare with tons of pennies, and later gets Patrick to do the same.
  • In the Uncle Grandpa episode "Mustache Cream", the titular character is in a rush to purchase some mustache cream, only to be directed by Mr. Gus towards the long line of people in front of the cash register. At the front is a woman who asks if she can pay in pennies, to Uncle Grandpa's dismay.
    Old Woman: Oh dear, I'm all out of checks. Do you take pennies?
  • Wander over Yonder. In the episode "The Nice Guy," Wander is in a convenience store, buying a drink for Sylvia, and tries to pay for it with hundreds of pennies that he kept in his shoes.

    Real Life 
  • This is slowly becoming a Discredited Trope. Almost nobody wants to fiddle around with change anymore, and technology is slowly enabling people to avoid having to do so. Even places that traditionally use coins so that you can micromanage your consumption, like laundromats and arcades, are starting to transition to prepaid cards — which you could, in theory, load up using coins, but can do just as easily with a debit or credit card. In some places like Hong Kong, your prepaid public transit card can be used all over the city for things like laundromats, vending machines, and convenience stores. And in Japan, arcades might accept BitCash. Pinball machines, though, tend to be laggards — most still demand coins.
  • If you do find yourself carrying a ton of coins, there are ways you can get rid of them. Some places will specifically turn your coins into banknotes — many take a cut, but some banks will do this for you for free if you have an account there. Others will combine coins into rolls — you haven't really gotten rid of them, but you can at least make it much clearer how much money you're carrying and avoid one of the most annoying parts of this trope. The most convenient place to dump your change, though, is still the tip jar.
  • The United States does not have a law allowing merchants to reject payments in change, which might be a reason for the trope's prevalence. Although there is no federal law that says merchants must accept any and all denominations, many states do. This leads to issues where merchants in some states can refuse to accept payment in pennies, and others can't. The thing in the U.S. is that if you have already incurred a debt, then the other party does have to accept any payment in legal tender, including in coins. This includes taxes — which is why American tax protesters can (and do) pay their taxes in pennies as a protest. Indeed, Americans can be quite creative at paying relatively trivial amounts in small change, and the authorities can be equally creative in smacking them down:
    • Generally speaking, merchants can demand that you count all the change yourself if you choose to pay this way. If you wind up with too much, they will give you your change in the same way — and if they have to accept it, so do you!
    • Sometimes people will find obscure legal tender and try to "gotcha" a merchant who rejects it because they're not familiar with it. The rarely-seen two-dollar bill is one of the most popular devices for this. Indeed, if you do "get" a merchant that way, you can usually drag them through the mud in the media — and merchants who are wise to this tend not to contest odd payments like this too often, for fear of the bad press.
    • A man in Utah paid a disputed $25 clinic bill entirely in pennies. He was cited by police — not for paying in pennies, but only for spilling them all over the floor and on the counter.
    • Some guy tried to pay a $35 parking ticket in pennies and was fined $147 more for his stunt, but the court ruled in his favor because he was technically paying using legal tender. The city dropped the extra fine, but told the guy he could only pay in pennies if he counted them all himself or if he had the bank roll them. He eventually chose the latter.
    • Some guy paid a $137 parking ticket entirely in one-dollar bills, all folded into origami pigs, and delivered in a donut box for good measure. The clerk wouldn't accept them until he unfolded all of them.
    • America's Dumbest Criminals relates a story in which the girlfriend of an accused vending machine thief paid his bail entirely in quarters.
    • A man in Virginia protested having to pay child support by making his last payment entirely in pennies — and hiring a trailer to carry them and dump them on his ex-wife's lawn. The ex and their daughter shoveled them up, toted them to the bank, and donated the deposit to a charity supporting domestic abuse victims.
    • A Georgia business owner, angry at an employee who reported him to the Department of Labor for wage theft on his final paycheck, dumped over $900 in pennies on the man's yard, covered in motor oil and with a profanity-infused letter on top. The Department of Labor still sued him.
  • Outside the U.S., most jurisdictions do have laws that allow retailers to reject payments with too large a volume in small denominations. Or even too small a volume in large denominations. These places also have even more tools at their disposal to deal with people who think they're "clever":
    • British regional councils have gotten so fed up with people paying disputed amounts with small change in protest that the UK has enacted a law allowing creditors to refuse to accept certain denominations of legal tender as payment. While you can make pretty much any payment in banknotes, and even in coins worth at least a pound, your ability to pay in smaller denominations is severely limited — you can only use up to twenty pennies.
    • In France, a man protested a tax increase by paying his taxes with 50kg worth of 1, 2, and 5-cent coins. He apparently was able to recruit other people in his town to help him, not necessarily because they agreed with his political claims but mostly because they thought it was amusing.
  • A few more countries are heavily into the cash economy, and in some cases like Mexico, important products and services — electricity, water, phone bills, taxes — can only be paid in cash. One of the most ridiculous is in South Korea, where it's about 1,000 won to the dollar but the biggest denomination banknote available to the general public is worth 10,000 won, so in some situations — most notably American servicemen, whom Korean landlords like to insist pay several months' worth of rent in advance and in cash — you have to pay with a Briefcase Full of Money.
  • Sometimes this can happen when a country takes a certain denomination out of circulation. Everyone has a limited period of time in which to get rid of it, and it can lead to paying for random things in change. Most jurisdictions in this situation have to either specifically allow merchants to refuse payment in that denomination early or force them to accept it.
  • In Germany, there's an old custom that a bride pays for her shoes in pennies. The idea is that it would demonstrate that she would be a thrifty housewife. No longer really practical, as the custom developed when you needed only a hundred pennies to do this, and now you'd need tens of thousands.
  • King Ludwig II of Bavaria was a big fan of Richard Wagner. His subjects, even the ministers, didn't share his love. When the king ordered that Wagner should receive a great sum of money for support, the responsible man paid him in silver coins — several sacks' worth. Wagner was enraged and demanded that the whole cabinet step down.
  • When Rupert Murdoch bought John D. Rockefeller's mansion for 44 million USD in 2005, he paid in cash.
  • James Herriot relates how this happened to him on his first date, when he was fourteen. He paid for his tram fare with too high a denomination, and the driver got his revenge by giving him his change entirely in half-pennies. This forced him to do this at the cinema.
  • Not too long before he started The Completionist, Jirard Khalil worked at Best Buy, until one day he quit due to his racist manager demanding he upsell an entire home theater plan to an Arab customer who only wanted an HDMI cable. Having had a wonderful time doing a livestream the day before, he got the idea to start making The Completionist, and later got all of his equipment (and whatever else he could afford) from the very same Best Buy he quit so he could still take advantage of his employee discount, totaling roughly $2,700, making sure his former manager was working that day. This trope is used as a form of revenge, as Jirard pulled out all of his money from his bank account in one dollar bills, and even got a loan from his father which he had changed into one dollar bills, which he used to pay for all the equipment, because it's Best Buy policy to have a manager thrice-count the money whenever that much money is spent in that many bills.
  • This tactic was employed when the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Farley Mowat was impounded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada during a protest against an annual Arctic seal hunt, and its captain arrested. Its namesake, author and conservationist Farley Mowat, paid the captain's bail — half of which was rendered in two-dollar coins, which Mowat termed "dubloons" for the occasion.
  • Quite a few banks and other financial institutions have started doing an interesting inversion in that they often refuse to accept pre-rolled change and require it to be loose and counted by them in person as a deterrent to fraud, since pre-rolled coins can be slightly under-counted (if that roll of 50 dimes only includes 48, the difference is so subtle the teller likely won't notice, but it can add up over large amounts of coins,) or include "blanks" that aren't real money to pad them out. Bringing in pre-rolled change is likely to result in the bank employees breaking them open and recounting them personally, though considering banks have heavy duty counting machines that can do so in very little time at all, it's not as much of an ordeal as it seems.


Video Example(s):


Arthur - Buying a Glass Bird

In "Arthur's Perfect Christmas," Arthur Read buys a glass bird as a present for his mother and takes a long time counting out coins to pay for it. So long, in fact, that the cashier falls asleep. Good thing he at least remembers to thank her and wish her a happy holidays.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / PayingInCoins

Media sources: