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I understand that Australia first released plastic banknotes in 1988, which replaced the paper dollar notes that had first been issued in 1966. Are any pre-plastic paper notes still around, and are they still legal tender? I may have a few paper notes tucked away somewhere, and since I'm going to Australia (hopefully!) this summer, I was wondering if I could use them.

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  • Wikipedia cites this page from the Reserve Bank of Australia that says that "All Australian banknotes, present and all past issues, are lawfully current in Australia." However, I don't think this would preclude a shop from saying "we don't accept old notes"; hopefully someone with more experience "on the ground" will give a more complete answer. Mar 25 at 20:22
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    You might do better than spending them by selling them to a collector. Mar 25 at 20:31
  • You can use them here, as they are still legal tender, but you would be best off changing them at a bank rather than just trying in a shop.
    – user207421
    Mar 27 at 5:23
  • @user207421 just a note that legal tender generally means that it has to be accepted for debts, not for most normal transactions in shops (restaurants where you pay after eating is an example of a debt, buying goods from a supermarket is not).
    – Moo
    Mar 27 at 9:26
  • Take them to a bank, but there is a small chance the transaction could be slow. Answer questions about the notes truthfully. This is because of forgeries. Apr 5 at 3:38

1 Answer 1

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From the Reserve Bank of Australia: Redeeming Old Banknotes

All Australian banknotes that have previously been issued into circulation by the Reserve Bank remain legal tender and can continue to be used.

and

All previous issues of Australian banknotes retain their legal tender status. However, it is a long time since some of these banknotes were issued into circulation in Australia and some retailers or members of the public may be reluctant to accept them. People may be unfamiliar with the designs and may suspect the banknotes to be counterfeit.

Most commercial banks will redeem old Australian banknotes at face value. A commercial bank may require some time to confirm that a banknote from a previous series is genuine or may need to send such banknotes to the Reserve Bank for confirmation.

The also mention collectors

Some old banknotes may be valuable as collector items. The Reserve Bank does not provide opinions concerning the market value of old, rare or misprinted banknotes. Collectors may wish to have their banknotes appraised by a reputable banknote and coin dealer. The Reserve Bank doesn't endorse any particular organisation, but a number of Australian banknote and coin dealers are members of the Australasian Numismatic Dealers Association Inc.

But what I find interesting is that pre-decimal currency can still be redeemed.

For the exchange of pre-decimal banknotes, the conversion to dollars is obtained by multiplying the face value by two. For example, a £1 banknote converts to $2; £5 converts to $10; and £10 converts to $20. The only exception to this is the 10 shilling banknote, which converts to $1.

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    That last sentence is odd… was someone unaware that 20 shillings make a pound & therefore there is no discrepancy.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 26 at 14:07
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    @Tetsujin I think it is there because the conversion is not just "multiply by 2", but has the additional step of "convert shillings to pounds" (eg £0.5) before "multiply by two". Without knowing if readers are familiar with shillings, stating the conversion here is the simplest approach.
    – Dragonel
    Mar 26 at 15:54
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    @Tetsujin Australia converted to decimal currency 56 years ago. So it is quite likely that someone who received a stash of cash handed down 3 generations might not know how many shillings to a pound.
    – Peter M
    Mar 26 at 21:30
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    I just got knocked back at McDonalds. The cashier actually said "that's not a five dollar note". And it was during school hours, so it wasn't some high school student. I didn't argue -- I had a polymer note I could use instead -- but I was nonplussed.
    – david
    May 5 at 0:30
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    I'm not surprised. I'm in my thirties and have never seen a paper Australian banknote. I would have no idea if it was real.
    – Lll
    May 5 at 14:30

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