• Coins are legal tender and must be accepted as payment for goods and services – up to a point.
  • Unlike notes, The South African Reserve Bank Act limits to how many coins must be accepted per transaction.
  • A retailer may – but doesn't have to – refuse to accept if you try to pay with too many coins.

Legal tender literally means that somebody you owe money must to accept your cash – just as long as you don't try to pay with too many coins.

Retailers can refuse to accept payment for any goods or services if its made up coins that surpass the limit set by Section 17 of the South African Reserve Bank Act, the Bank pointed out this week.

These are the maximum number of coins of each denomination shops must accept.

So a retailer would be well within its rights to refuse to take your money at the till if you try to pay with 51 coins of R1 each.

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However, that retailer can accept all the coins it wants, says Professor Jannie Rossouw of the University of Witwatersrand's School of Economics. It is not illegal to try to make payment with too many coins, nor is it illegal to accept too many coins – but the retailer has the choice.

The coins are currency that is legal tender for all transactions - however, as a matter of convenience, retailers may turn them away if they exceed the set limits in section 17 (2)(b).
Professor Jannie Rossouw, Wits School of Economics

So, for example, in South Africa Apple would have been well within its rights to turn away 30 trucks sent by Samsung with $1 billion (R11.9 billion) in 5 cent coins, as payment for a fine – as was rumoured to have happened.

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