US coin values by weight

One thing that it’s often wise to have for emergencies is a handful of change. If you’re stuck somewhere where there’s nothing to eat but vending machine goodness, it might mean the difference between having a meal or not.

But if you bring change, what sort of change should you bring? Going strictly by weight, the $1 coin is the best value for weight right now. But there’s one drawback to that: some vending machines don’t take $1 coins. So what should you carry if you want to get maximum snacks?

The US Mint has a list of US coin weights as part of their specifications. That tells you what you need to know. Here’s a table based on the weight of mint condition coins (coins lose mass as they get used):

Coin Value ($) Coin Weight (g) Weight (g) for $1
0.01 2.5 250.0
0.05 5.0 100.0
0.10 2.268 22.68
0.25 5.670 22.68
1.00 11.34 11.34

That reveals some interesting facts.

  • Nickles weigh exactly 5 g each
  • Two pennies weigh the same as one nickle
  • $10 in nickels or $4 in pennies weigh 1 kg
  • Quarters and dimes have the same value by weight
  • Dollar coins are twice as valuable as quarters and dimes by weight

So if you’re on a road trip and plan to dine at the automat, grab your dollar coins first, then your dimes and quarters. Skip the nickles (unless you think that you’ll have to weigh something – it might be handy to have a few 5g weights around). And there’s a reason that only zinc producers like pennies.

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