$1 Coins Instead of Bills? New Proposals Suggest Move Could Save More Than $4 Billion

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(Photo: AP Images / Alastair Grant, file)A US bill appears in this April 17, 2007 file photo illustration.

$1 coins could be released instead of dollar bills in a controversial move likely to upset many. Despite the divisive proposal, one nonpartisan arm of Congress has suggested that billions could be saved in governmental spending if the United States used coins instead of notes for the dollar bill.

According to the Government Accountability Office coins are able to be kept in circulation much longer than notes, and with the $1 bill being the most commonly used note in circulation, it could potentially save billions if the note became a coin.

It is estimated that the $1 bill makes about 5 cents to create. However, an average bill only lasts 4.6 years, according to the GAO.

Meanwhile, a coin would cost about 30 cents to make – an increase – but would last more than 30 years in circulation.

The GAO estimates that if the change over did take place the government could potentially save as much as $4.4 billion over the next 30 years.

Lorelei St. James, a GAO director, said: "We continue to believe that replacing the note with a coin is likely to provide a financial benefit to the government if the note is eliminated and negative public reaction is effectively managed through stakeholder outreach and public education." according to CNN.

However, the change might not happen any time soon. The GAO has been recommending the same thing for the past 20 years at least. They are adamant that their calculations are correct, however, and are planning to urge Congress again that the change should be made. With the United States economy still stuttering in its recovery, this may be a more attractive time than in the past to make the move and make the savings.

The GAO plans to introduce its proposals again on Thursday during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee.

This also may not be the only change on the horizon for the United States currency. Last year President Barack Obama suggested a change in the material used for pennies and nickels should be found, as currently both coins cost more to make than the coins are actually worth.