Did you know that it is illegal to melt or export pennies and dimes? Well at least if the amount you send out of the country is over $5.
With the rising prices of nickel, zinc, and copper, the actual cost of creating a US penny or nickel is worth more than the coin itself.
So what did the US do?
It banned it! Much like the banning of silver coins back in the day, this law is a way to prevent people from converting their dollars into pennies/nickels, melting them down, selling them, and repeating the process. Furthermore, banning the exportation of the coins allows the US to keep the coins in circulation.
If the two types of coins are in constant circulation, the amount it costs to create them pays off. It’s when the coins go out of circulation that the process gets messed up and the US / taxpayers start losing a large amount of money (over time).
With this law, the coins have a higher chance of circulating for a longer period of time and that’s why we still have pennies and nickels.
Furthermore, the two coins are a huge part of the economy. From force of habit to pricing tactics, pennies and nickels play a huge part in various markets (mainly retail).
What happens if you melt or export pennies / nickels?
If you are caught exporting, or melting, the coins you will be put in court and tried for your crimes. There is no official prison time or fine that is set, but we do know the limit. The US government promises to not imprison the ‘criminals’ for more than 5 years, or fine them more than $10,000.
Who created this law?
The law was created by the United States Mint. Starting off as an interim rule, the public was allowed to respond to the proposal and perhaps prevent it from being implemented. However, that was in 2007 and the law was officially put in place.