5-cent coins are legal tender but businesses can still reject them as payment -- under one condition

Submitted by Stomper Terrie

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The sign said: "We no longer accept 5 cents."

It was posted at the front of the Xing Long Cooked Food stall in the Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre.

Sharing a photo of the sign at the stall, Stomper Terrie asked: "Is the Singapore five-cent coin legal tender? Why don't most food courts accept it?"

To answer the first question, yes, the five-cent coin is legal tender.

Then can businesses reject them like this food stall in Marine Parade?

On its website, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) addressed the issue referencing a letter from a Straits Times reader in September 2020.

Businesses have the discretion on how they wish to receive payment "as the payment of goods and services is an agreement between buyer and seller", said MAS.

Under the Currency Act, businesses are allowed to reject five-cent coins – or any of the denominations of coins or currency notes – but they must provide a written notice of this to the payer before the payer incurs a debt.

Otherwise, all denominations of the currency notes and coins, up to legal tender limits, tendered as payment must be accepted, said MAS.

The legal tender limit for coins of any denomination is 20 times the face value of that coin. This means customers are permitted to pay up to $1 in five-cent coins.

In 2022, a customer in a Yishun coffee shop tried pay for a $1.20 cup of coffee with a $1 coin, a 10-cent coin and two five-cent coins.

But when the drinks stall worker saw the five-cent coins, she allegedly poured the coffee into a sink and said: "I do not accept five cents. Go away, I am not selling to you."

The stall had a sign that said it did not accept five-cent coins as payment.

In 2021, a man spat at two coffee shop workers in Punggol when they told him they could not accept more than five five-cent coins as payment for a drink.