How Are Challenge Coins Used?

Pilots, teams and U.S. soldiers have the right to take their morale seriously. These servicemen and women have helped us to carry the tradition of challenge coins into many walks of life. Though also found among police officers and veterans, firefighters have even adopted the challenge coin tradition. The best way to use a challenge coin depends on you, your organization and the friendships you share in a group. 

What Are Challenge Coins?

Challenge coins come from a military tradition that represents the honor and bond that members of the same group or military unit share. Unlike monetary coins with political figures minted onto them, challenge coins use insignias and short mottos with decals. The special designs and emblems of these coins are intricate, making most coins seem as if they’re medallions. Today, pop culture, outside of public service, embraces challenge coins and even sets new trends. Some in the business world even use corporate challenge coins as business cards, for example.

Believed to have started as a Roman practice, coin giving enables leaders to award their followers with a token of gratitude. Tradition has it that the price of a drink in ancient days was often a coin, which a soldier usually didn’t have. Being presented a coin at a bar and as a trophy became a public ceremony to honor people from within military ranks. Be it 24K gold or polished silver, challenge coins are minted with exquisite detail and the finest craftsmanship. 

Here’s a quick look at seven ways to use your challenge coins: 

1. As Performance Awards

Most U.S. servicemen receive their coins from superiors, making these tokens performance recognitions. Though challenge coins are generally tied to memberships, important achievements call for commemorative coins to be issued. The value of a challenge coin is representative of how valued someone’s performance is. Gold and other precious metals aren’t given out at a special event without someone meeting the highest standards in military performance or public conduct. 

2. A Collector’s Item

Public servicemen can use their personal development as a pathway to collecting challenge coins. The coins they collect can be exchanged within or outside of the military. NASCAR, World Series of Poker and the NFL are examples of the public brands that produce challenge coins outside of military service. The breadth of coins circulating this planet gives you a lifetime worth of collecting to do. Just be sure to acknowledge which coins aren’t tradable or shareable. 

3. Membership Recognition

In the same manner that flags show who a certain group or person is, challenge coins can connect people from different parts of the world together. Such coins are issued once you become a member of a group. Other coins are issued only when you’ve been invested with a group and have passed its tests. Using a challenge coin to make a statement regarding your association with a group can create a sense of honor. Challenge coins are about morale. 

4. A Medium of Exchange

As a medium of exchange, challenge coins can be used as bartering tools for favors or actual objects. Since not every coin is limited to a single group, some collectors, though certainly not at a store, can use their collection for strategic purchases. Challenge coins, being attractive and well-made, might even help you to lead those following you as they hope to receive recognition via your coin. Some coins are precious metals that are valued at the prices of gold and silver. 

5. A Tool of Identification

One of the most prominent stories regarding challenge coins comes from a World War I tale. An American soldier received an emblem that he cherishes within a leather pouch worn around his neck. This same soldier is eventually captured by German enemies. He escapes one night and encounters his American forces who are skeptical of him. The medallion he received from his officer and held in his pouch is what keeps him from being killed by a firing squad. 

6. An Actual Challenge

A coin check challenge is essentially a test to see if service members have their coin with them. Coin checks are done among members who share the same coin and allegiances. Being unable to show your coin when others test you results in you losing. You must buy everyone a round of drinks if you can’t produce your medallion. The opposite is true if the person making the challenge fails to find members without their coin. In essence, challenge coins are a type of game. 

7. Political, Presidential Gifts

In recent years, U.S. presidents have gone public when minting and distributing their own challenge coins. These coins come as surprise honors for servicemen working with the president. Other coins are minted for special occasions with and for foreign diplomats. Each president has the command to customize their own coins while minting any number of them.

Can a Civilian Give a Challenge Coin?

A civilian can give a challenge coin to anyone, but it depends on where the coin is from or who it belonged to. A civilian with a military coin might have encountered it by accident. In a more unique case, civilians might want to honor their servicemen with a challenge coin directly from their hands. Here are the factors to consider when civilians give or issue their own coins:

  • Customs: If you, as military personnel, are already obliged to a certain group, it might be inappropriate to brandish other coins.
  • Purpose or Objective: Some boundaries can be broken when the reason behind a coin is considered. For example, challenge coins can be issued by civilians in order to raise money for a humanitarian project.
  • Rank and Position: There are other traditions within the military that you have to consider before accepting a civilian coin.
  • New Memberships: Civilians aren’t required to register with any agency when creating challenge coins for their public groups.

Custom Challenge Coins Like You Have Never Seen

New challenge coins are minted each year. Today, you can customize your own coin and distribute it to whomever you like. By using durable metals and dyes, we can design your coin to be polished, colored and even raised upon its surface. Buying these coins in bulk packages is how many groups save money. You can get your challenge coins online and start the process with all of the resources you need for an ideal mint. 

Browse Challenge Coins Limited to learn more about custom challenge coins and order yours today!

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