We share some useful tips to help you feel confident handling and identifying money.
One of the best ways of making it easier to identify money is to have an organised system for storing it.
- Keep coins in zipped coin wallets or purses, or a certain part of your wallet or purse. If your purse or wallet has more than one section, keep different coins or notes in different sections.
- If you find it difficult to identify coins when you have a lot of them, leave the lower denominations (coppers and five pence pieces) at home; that way you’ll have fewer coins to handle when you’re out.
- It’s always a good idea to check how much money you have and where you've stored it before leaving the house. This will help you not only keep track of how much money you’ve spent but can serve as a reminder of where you've put your notes, coins and payment cards.
- Plastic coin holders are a handy way to keep loose change organised and you can easily take out the coins when you need to pay for something. They’re available from online stores such as Amazon.
How to identify each coin through touch
To practise identifying coins through touch, you might want to place your coins onto a tray that has a lip, so you don’t lose any.
Initially, you may need to practise using two hands to identify each coin. Place the flat of the coin between the thumb and index finger of one hand to gauge its shape and size. Use the index finger of your other hand to draw around the edge of the coin to confirm whether it has a grooved edge. Once you're more confident, you’ll soon be able to do this using one hand.
Begin by pairing the coins…
- £2 and £1 are thicker and heavier
- 50p and 20p have ‘pointy bits’
- 10p and 5p have grooved edges
- 2p and 1p are thin and smooth
- The bigger coin in the pair is the one that is worth more money out of the two. For example, the £2 is bigger than the £1. The 50p is bigger than the 20p. The 10p is bigger than the 5p. The 2p is bigger than the 1p.
- If the coin has corners, it narrows the options down to either a 20p, 50p or £1. You can then check the size and weight to determine which one it is.
- If the coin is round, draw around the edge with your fingernail to determine whether the edge is milled or smooth. This narrows it down to a smaller group and you can then check the size and thickness to determine which one it is.
Thin, flexible plastic (polymer) banknotes have the same features as the paper notes. They increase in size with their value, include bold numerals and have similar colour palettes to the paper notes. The £10 and £20 notes also have a tactile feature created by a series of raised dots to help you recognise them:
- £5 is the smallest in size and has no raised dots.
- £10 has two sets of four raised dots in the top left-hand corner.
- £20 has three sets of four raised dots in the top left-hand corner.
- Buy a wallet or purse with three compartments, so you can store the three different notes in separate sections.
- Only carry a single denomination, for example only £5 notes.
- Use paper clips to keep the same notes together.
- Fold different notes in different ways - for example the £5 in half widthways, the £10 lengthways, the £20 unfolded.
- To tell the difference between notes, measure the height of them by placing them between your index and middle finger. The £5 is the shortest, £10 slightly taller etc.
- Buy a banknote holder – for example one that has a push-button that when pressed, vibrates to indicate the note’s value. For example, one vibration means it’s holding £5 notes.
- You could also use the app Seeing AI to help you identify banknotes.
One way to help you identify a particular bank card is to cut a small indent in the side of it. This doesn’t stop it from working but makes it easy to feel the difference between it and another card. If it’s not a card that you use in an ATM, you could add a tactile bump-on where it’s not going to get in the way.
Some banks provide specially adapted debit and credit cards, free of charge. For example, NatWest and RBS offer cards that include large print, a small notch or tactile logo to identify the correct way to insert the card, and raised dots to identify whether the card is a credit, debit or savings card. At Barclays you can get your card personalised, for example using a colour that makes it easier to identify or putting a large icon such as an arrow on it to show which way to put it into a chip and pin or ATM.
Contact your bank for more information.
Cash machines with audio output
Many ATMs have audio or ‘talking’ services and there’s often a headphone jack under the card slot. You can use the ‘Link ATM Locator’ to check if there are any audio ATMs near to you.
ATMs also normally have a raised dot on the number five, which can help you find your way around the keypad.
We recommend you speak directly to someone at your bank’s local branch and arrange some time with a member of staff, who can teach you the layout of the ATM, where to find the earphone slot and the procedures to follow when completing an audio transaction.
If you’re concerned about using an ATM outside, there’s often an ATM you can use inside the branch, or seek assistance from a member of staff.
Using contactless payments
Using contactless payments is quick and easy, and quicker than handling notes and coins, although there are limits on how much money you can charge. Use the tips above to identify the correct card and which end of the card to use. Another option if you have one, is to use your iPhone, Apple Watch or another smart device to make contactless payments. It takes a little setting up but again works well.