Tipping your doctor £50? Weird and wonderful ways that Moneywise readers use £50 notes

25 October 2018

From tipping their doctor, to paying their rent, Moneywise readers have an array of uses for their fifties.

The Bank of England recently announced that it had saved the £50 note from the axe, and would be printing new polymer notes to be released in 2020.

So we asked the readers to tell us if they had used a £50 note or not, and if they had, what they were doing with them.

Some 40% said they have never used a £50 note. 43% said they had, but were not sure what for.

Reader David Radford had this to say about £50 notes: "The fact is, the £50 note is now more like the £20 note 15-20 years ago, due to inflation.

"In London, it'll just about pay for a medium sized round of drinks, or a low-reasonable meal and drinks for two. It is now a reasonable-sized currency.

In markets, festivals, etc, one probably isn't even enough for a day. So it is now entering its heyday, removing it would've been a backward step, and would probably need re-introduced within 10 years."

But 109 readers told us specifically what they were doing with such big notes in their wallets.

Perhaps the most common answer was in the form of a gift. Perhaps giving a loved one a crisp £50 note is a sort of statement of effort? Much harder to find one than a couple of crumpled £20s and a £10…

Several said they used them in restaurants. One reader simply replied that they used them to buy “albondigas”, Spanish meatballs.

One reader noted: “I exchanged 10 brand new £50 notes for a motorbike way back in 1984”.

Many remarked that they used £50 notes to exchange for foreign currency while abroad. A reader says: “I use them to avoid taking excessive numbers of notes abroad to pay for villa rental.”

Another adds: “I use £50 notes for holiday spending in countries where I wouldn’t like to use bank cards.”

While one efficiency-minded reader commented “£50 notes are useful to carry simply because they don't make your wallet so fat.”

Other common uses include paying contractors cash-in-hand or making large purchases. One reader comments: “I use them (infrequently) to pay for privately purchased motor vehicles.”

But one reader has a different purpose altogether. She says: “I always carry one in my purse for luck and have had to use it for emergencies.”

Although perhaps most surprisingly of all, one service-conscious reader says they used a £50 note to tip their doctor: “I use lots of them, most recently to pay my GP for a referral.”

Thank you to all 671 readers who participated in the poll. This week we want to know, does the Chancellor’s Budget matter to you?

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