Mail Bag – Are American Eagle Coins Legal Tender?

Today’s Mail Bag question is more of an ask for help in settling an argument. The question is if American Eagle coins, gold and silver, are legal tender. The question comes from James and they write,


Settle an argument between me and a friend. He says that Silver (American) Eagles cannot be used for paying for things. I say they can but that gold ones can’t. Who’s right?

James via the Mail Bag

Well James, technically you are both incorrect.

First, your friend is incorrect in saying that American Eagles cannot be used for legal tender (a form of payment). They can but only for the face value of that coin. For the silver American Eagle, it has a value of $1. So it could, technically, be used to pay for a debt but only for the value of $1. Clearly you don’t want to do this as the silver content alone is $16.83 (at the time of this writing) per ounce. The silver American Eagle is one ounce of silver so the metal content alone is higher than the face value.

Second, where you got it wrong James was on the gold American Eagles. They too can technically be used for legal tender. But, like the silver Eagle, it is only good for the face value. So a 1 ounce gold Eagle has the legal tender value of $50. A 1/2 ounce Eagle has a value of $25. One-Quarter ounce American Eagles have a face value of $10 while a one-tenth ounce has a face value of $5.

Just as it is with the silver Eagles, you really don’t want to actually pay for something with a gold Eagle. The gold value alone is well beyond the face value.

So there you go James, I hope this is a helpful answer for you & your friend.

If you have a question for the Mail Bag, just use the contact form on the About page to send it in.

1 thought on “Mail Bag – Are American Eagle Coins Legal Tender?”

  1. I wonder if anyone has ever tested local tax authorities on “legal tender” If you as an individual sold a used car to another individual for say $30,000, and he paid you with $50 gold coins, (approximately 16 $50 gold coins) face value would be $800.00. Wonder if he could legally get away with paying sales tax on $800 instead of $30,000.00. at 7% tax rate that would be $56 tax instead of $2100.00 tax.


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