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Rounding isn’t a plot
September 21, 2011

The concept of rounding is one that elicits strong emotions.

It has been suggested that the United States abolish the cent and in its place merchants can use the rounding method of providing change without using the 1 cent coin.

Any sum that ends with 1 or 2 cents would get rounded down and any sum ending in 3 or 4 would be rounded up.

Statistically, an equal number of transactions would be rounded up to the nearest 5 cents as rounded down.

Yet there is a large number of people who simply don’t believe it. Somehow they figure they will be victims of rounding always up.

This misconception is fanned by Washington lobbyists who work for the mining industry. They don’t want to lose the Mint as a customer for 1 cent blanks.

I can’t blame the lobbyists for looking out for their own interests. That is what they are paid to do.

The peculiar thing about it is that Americans who feel they will be cheated by rounding have options to get every last red cent of value.

If they don’t want to be subjected to rounding, they can pay for their purchases using credit cards or debit cards, or even checks.

The really clever could be ever at the ready with either cash or card. If they see their bill comes to only 1 or 2 cents over, they can pay in cash and watch as the merchant rounds the bill down.

If the amount ends in 3 or 4 cents, they can pay with the card and prevent the merchant from rounding up.

Everybody wins. Those who don’t object to rounding will go on about their routines. Those who do have a method of defending themselves.

The Mint gets to save the huge dollar costs of striking cents that cost 1.8 cents to make.

Everybody wins.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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