Singapore Markets close in 26 mins

New polymer Turner £20 note: how to spot if yours is worth thousands

Sam Meadows
The new £20 note will enter circulation in February - PA

Early adopters of the new £20 notes could be able to make a few pennies by watching out for rare serial numbers.

Every banknote is printed with a unique number. When the new iterations of the £5 and £10 notes were released the earliest ones to be printed had serial codes that began with AA01 followed by an eight-digit number, starting at 00000001.

These notes can be worth more than their face value. Holders should refrain from getting too excited, however, as a £10 note with the AA01 code is currently listed on eBay for £22.25 – so it’s unlikely to make you a millionaire. Still, that's a return of more than 100pc. 

Why is there a new £20 note and when is it being launched?

The Bank of England announced this morning that the new £20 note bearing the face of artist JMW Turner will be released in February. Like the new £5 and £10 notes featuring Winston Churchill and Jane Austen the notes will be made of polymer which the Bank of England says is harder to counterfeit and will last longer.

It enters circulation in February and a £50 featuring Alan Turing will follow in 2021. The public can continue to spend paper £20 notes as usual and these will be gradually withdrawn as they are banked by retailers and the public.

Sarah John, the Bank’s chief cashier said: “The new £20 is an important part of our commitment to providing banknotes that people can use with confidence. 

“Our polymer notes are much harder to counterfeit and, with the £20 being our most common note, this marks a big step forward in our fight against counterfeiting. I hope the public will look forward to spending their new Turner £20s from February next year.”

Can you really make thousands from a polymer banknote?

It is possible to make thousands from a banknote worth a few quid. According to currency website Change Checker, a polymer £10 note with the serial number AA01 00000001 sold for a staggering £7,200 last year.

However, most early notes won’t net you very much. An eBay search for a polymer £10 with an AA01 serial number today turns up few results worth more than £100.

Other serial numbers can be worth more than face value if they spell out words or have different connotations. Again though, the profits are likely to be small.

Although an eBay listing for a £5 note with the serial number AK47, the name of a machine gun, received a winning bid of more than £80,000, the buyer did not cough up the cash. It appears most buyers are willing to pay around £7.50, a mark up of £2.50.

Other serial numbers that appear to create an appetite among collectors are those including James Bond’s call-sign of 007 and Jane Austen £10 notes with her birth year on it. One with the serial number AH17 75 sold for more than £3,000 according to the site.