Coins for Making Change

Change Due: Learn

Change is the money a customer receives back when they have made a purchase. Often the customer gives the merchant more money than the amount due because the customer may not have the exact coins and bills that are needed. The merchant determines how much extra was paid and returns the excess which is called change.

How to find the least number of coins to give in change:

  • Determine the total amount of change due by subtracting.
  • Then, start with the highest denomination of coins or bills, and use as many as possible without exceeding the amount of change due.
  • Repeat this process for the next-lowest denomination until all change due is determined.

Example: A customer pays with a $20 bill for a purchase of $2.11

  • The amount of change due is $20.00 - $2.11 = $17.89
  • Determine coins and/or bills necessary to make change:
    What To Do How Much Change So Far
    Get one $10 bill
    (two would be too many)
    Get one $5 bill
    (two would be too many)
    Get two $1 bills
    (three would be too many)
    Get three quarters
    (four would be too many)
    Get one dime
    (two would be too many)
    Get no nickels
    (one would be too many)
    Get four pennies
    (five would be too many)

Now count the change back out to the customer:

  • Say the original amount before giving any change
  • Count the change from the lowest denomination to the highest denomination
  • The final count should be the same as the amount the customer gave you

Example from above:

  • You should say: "Two eleven" -- before starting to give change back
  • "two twelve, two thirteen, two fourteen, two fifteen" -- as the pennies are given
  • "two twenty-five" -- as the dime is given
  • "two fifty, two seventy-five, three dollars" -- as the quarters are given
  • "four dollars, five dollars" -- as the one dollar bills are given
  • "ten dollars" -- as the five dollar bill is given
  • "And twenty dollars" -- as the ten dollar bill is given

This process accomplishes the following:

  • The customer has the least possible coins in their purse or pocket.
  • The amount of money returned is double checked, when it is gathered and when given to customer.
  • The amount of change due is double checked by counting change.
  • The possibility of a misunderstanding is eliminated.
  • The merchant and the customer are both treated fairly by making sure the change is exact.

Change Due: Practice

Determine the fewest coins needed to make the correct change.


What is the amount of change due for
a $ charge and a $.00 payment?

X $10 bills
X $5 bills
X $1 bills
X Quarters
X Dimes
X Nickels
X Pennies

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