Skewnews.com is reporting that Canada recently announced that they would be phasing out their penny coin. On the heels of the Canadian announcement, U.S. Treasury Secretary, Tim Giethner stated in a press conference today that the U.S. Mint will remove the penny and nickel coins from circulation, starting early in January 2013.
Due to the rising costs of zinc and production related expenses, the U.S. Mint now spends 4.8 cents to make a penny. And the cost of copper and nickel have inflated the cost to create a nickel coin to 16.2 cents.
Gone in 2013
In 2011, the U.S. mint made over 4.9 billion pennies, at a cost of $118 million to make. That is $236 million to produce only $49 million worth of pennies, a loss of $187 million in minting costs. Minting the nickel coin also represents a significant loss in revenue.
By comparison, the dime (which costs 9.2 cents to mint) and the quarter (21.31 cents) are economically more feasible, and will continue in circulation through 2013. However, according to Giethner, the dime may be in jeopardy as early as 2014.
Once the phase out of pennies and nickels begins, merchants must be equipped to round all transactions to the nearest ten-cent increment.
If something costs $1.53, for instance, it will be rounded down to $1.50, and a transaction for $1.55 or higher will be rounded up to $1.60. Credit card, debit and check payments would also be subject to the rounding rule. It is expected that the rounding will not result in higher costs for purchases or losses for merchants.
Pennies and nickels will continue to hold their inherent cash value, and they can be traded in at financial institutions. Banks will then return the coins to the mint for recycling into their base materials. By mid 2013 it is expected that the penny and nickel will both be mostly removed from the U.S. economy.