Identifying money

People who are blind or have low vision may find it difficult to identify and organise money, particularly so that it is easy to locate specific amounts when shopping.

The following outlines various identification methods and strategies for organising coins and notes, so that people may continue to manage their money independently.

Identifying coins

Coins can be identified by their shape, size, weight and edging.

Silver coins (20c, 10c and 5c) are milled and when you run a fingernail around the edges of these coins, the vibration of the nail is heard and felt. These coins increase in value with size.

The fifty-cent coin is easily identified by shape. It has twelve sides. Older fifty-cent coins have eight sides.

The one-dollar and two-dollar coins have edges that are both milled and smooth. When you run a fingernail around the edge, the vibration of the milled section is differentiated from the smooth section, which the nail slips over quickly.

The two-dollar coin has a mostly smooth rim alternating with small sections of milling. The one-dollar coin has a mostly milled rim, alternating with small sections of smooth rim.

Coin holders

These flat plastic holders hold five gold coins. The coins are held firmly and the holder fits easily into a pocket or handbag. The two-dollar holder holds a total of $10. The one-dollar holder holds a total of $5.

You can slide each coin out by using your thumb. See the image below which demonstrates how the coins fit into the plastic holder.

A man inserting a $2 coin in to a coin holder

Identifying banknotes

Notes can be identified by sight and by touch.


Notes can be identified by the bold numbers in the top right hand corner and also by their colour.

The 100-dollar note is predominantly green. The fifty-dollar note is yellow. The twenty-dollar note has reddish tones. The ten-dollar note is blue and the five-dollar note is pinkish/purple.


In Australia the notes become longer as they increase in value. The five-dollar is the shortest note. The 100-dollar note is the longest.

A 'Cash Test' is a small tactile device that can be used to identify notes by their length.

Organising your money

  • The key strategy is organisation. Organise your coins and notes in good light before going shopping.
  • Some people keep only five-dollar and twenty-dollar notes in their wallets and pay in multiples of these notes to the nearest $5 above the price of an item. This limits the change given to coins only, which may make it easier to check the amount of change.
  • Put notes or coins of different denominations in separate pockets, or wallet or purse compartments. Consider using a purse or wallet with a number of separate sections for notes and for coins.
  • Consider storing different denominations of bank notes either flat, or folded, which can make it easier to locate the amount you need when out shopping.
Print Print larger font