Final Countdown to Spend $1, $2 Bills in Stores as They Lose Status in 2021

December 31, 2020 Updated: December 31, 2020

Canadians still holding on to old paper money have until midnight tonight to spend it, as stores will stop accepting certain denominations after the new year.

Some bank notes made between 1935 and 1986 will lose the government’s legal tender status at midnight.

The Bank of Canada’s website says the affected notes can still be redeemed or deposited for their face value at a bank or by the central bank, but may not be spent at stores.

The legal tender policy change only covers bank notes that are no longer being produced, including $1, $2, $25, $500 and $1,000 notes.

The Bank of Canada says the affected notes are so rare that they are hardly seen or recognized by store clerks anyway and some are worth more to collectors than in circulation.

The central bank says the long-awaited policy change puts Canada in line with other central banks, like the Bank of England, since newer notes have better security features and are harder to counterfeit.

The Bank of Canada has been reminding consumers of the upcoming change throughout the year, but says that the policy change boils down to a technical term for most people.

“Today, money is not just bank notes but takes many different forms: credit cards, debit cards, cheques, and contactless payments using mobile devices,” the Bank of Canada’s website says.

“You can pay with any of these forms of money, even though they are not considered ‘legal tender.’ In fact, anything can be used if the buyer and seller agree on the form of payment. So ‘legal tender’ has little impact on our everyday lives.”