Penny Costs 1.76 Cents to Make in 2020, Nickel Costs 7.42 Cents; US Mint Realizes $549.9M in Seigniorage

Lincoln cents - reverses shown
Last year, the U.S. Mint spent 1.76 cents to make and distribute each Lincoln cent. The Mint’s cost for each Jefferson nickel was 7.42 cents.

The cost for manufacturing U.S. coins for circulation decreased last year, excluding the dime which remained unchanged, the United States Mint disclosed in its 2020 Annual Report. Notably, however, the unit cost for both cents and nickels was above their face values for a fifteenth year in a row.

In FY 2020, the toll to make, administer and distribute the 1-cent coin retreated to 1.76 cents from 1.99 cents while the cost for the 5-cent coin eased to 7.42 cents from 7.62 cents.

Lower prices for copper and zinc helped in keeping costs down, although nickel prices did increase.

"Compared to last year, FY 2020 average spot prices for nickel increased 5.6 percent to $13,666.51 per tonne, whereas average copper prices decreased 3.6 percent to $5,856.52 per tonne, and average zinc prices decreased 15.4 percent to $2,206.15 per tonne," the U.S. Mint noted.

Lincoln cents have a composition of 2.5% copper with the balance zinc. Five-cent coins are minted in 25% nickel with the balance copper. Dimes and quarters are each composed in 8.33% nickel with their balance copper.

Cost to Make Dimes and Quarters

Unlike for cents and nickels, the U.S. Mint turned a profit with dimes and quarters because the cost of making them was lower than their face values. In FY2020, the unit cost for the quarter decreased to 8.62 cents from 9.01 cents while the dime’s unit cost was unchanged at 3.73 cents.

The following two tables summarize U.S. Mint costs for the cent through quarter in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

FY 2020 Unit Cost to Produce and Distribute 1c, 5c, 10c, and 25c Coins

One-Cent Five-Cent Dime Quarter
Cost of Goods Sold ($) 0.0151 0.0653 0.0326 0.0760
Sales, General & Administrative ($) 0.0022 0.0080 0.0042 0.0091
Distribution to Reserve Banks ($) 0.0003 0.0009 0.0005 0.0011
Total Unit Cost ($) 0.0176 0.0742 0.0373 0.0862


FY 2019 Unit Cost to Produce and Distribute 1c, 5c, 10c, and 25c Coins

One-Cent Five-Cent Dime Quarter
Cost of Goods Sold ($) 0.0168 0.0659 0.0317 0.0777
Sales, General & Administrative ($) 0.0029 0.0095 0.0051 0.0114
Distribution to Reserve Banks ($) 0.0002 0.0008 0.0005 0.0010
Total Unit Cost ($) 0.0199 0.0762 0.0373 0.0901


In profit from seigniorage — the difference between the face value and cost of producing circulating coins, the dime in FY 2020 realized $175.6 million while the quarter brought $476.3 million. (The U.S. Mint transfers seigniorage to the Treasury General Fund to help finance national debt.)

In contrast, the two smallest U.S. coins have lost money since 2006.

Unit Costs and Seigniorage for Cent and Nickel from 2005 to 2020

Fiscal Year Lincoln Cent Unit Cost Jefferson Nickel Unit Cost Combined 1c and 5c Seigniorage (in millions)
2005 0.0097 0.0484 $4.40
2006 0.0121 0.0597 ($32.90)
2007 0.0167 0.0953 ($98.60)
2008 0.0142 0.0883 ($47.00)
2009 0.0162 0.0603 ($22.00)
2010 0.0179 0.0922 ($42.60)
2011 0.0241 0.1118 ($116.70)
2012 0.0200 0.1009 ($109.20)
2013 0.0183 0.0941 ($104.50)
2014 0.0166 0.0809 ($90.50)
2015 0.0143 0.0744 ($74.40)
2016 0.0150 0.0632 ($66.80)
2017 0.0182 0.0660 ($89.80)
2018 0.0206 0.0753 ($119.00)
2019 0.0199 0.0762 ($102.90)
2020 0.0176 0.0742 ($101.00)


The U.S. Mint produces and issues circulating coins to Federal Reserve Banks in quantities to support their service to commercial banks and other financial institutions. FY 2020 saw production increases in all denominations compared to the prior year. The Mint delivered a total of:

  • 8.174 billion cents, up 11.7% from the previous year;
  • 1.598 billion nickels, up 38.6% from the previous year;
  • 2.801 billion dimes, up 26.5% from the previous year; and
  • 2.906 billion quarters, up 63.0% from the previous year.

The four denominations combined to 15.479 billion coins, registering a 24.2% increase from the 12.466 billion coins delivered in FY 2019. The Fed pays face value for each coin they receive and, as such, the U.S. Mint’s FY 2020 circulating revenue for coinage totaled $1,168.5 million, up 46.4% from $798.1 million in FY 2019.

2020 Coin Shipments, Costs and Seigniorage
(coins and dollars in millions)

One-Cent Five-Cent Dime Quarter Mutilated & Other Total
Coins Shipments 8,174 1,598 2,801 2,906 15,479
Value of Shipments $81.8 $79.9 $280.1 $726.5 $1,168.5
Gross Cost $144.0 $118.7 $104.5 $250.2 $1.1 $618.6
Seigniorage ($62.3) ($38.8) $175.6 $476.3 ($1.1) $549.9


After subtracting the year’s cost to produce the coins, which totaled $618.6 million, the U.S. Mint’s circulating profit or seigniorage totaled $549.9 million, representing an increase of $231.6 million, or 72.8%, from $318.3 million in FY 2019.

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Good read! Thank you coin news! Let’s be honest, even Rush said the national debt is a gimmick. From what I gather there is a ton of value in our coins.

Kaiser Wilhelm

Hang onto those Bitcoins for just a bit longer, Jake, and very soon you’ll be able to buy Tesla Motors right out from under the Illustrious Mr. Musk (is he also a deodorant?).

Last edited 4 days ago by Kaiser Wilhelm

I dont think this is the bitcoin forum, lol but yes I’m holding strong. Tbh I hate tesla I drive a gas guzzler, Thank You America.

Kaiser Wilhelm

I just happened to take peripheral notice of the fact that while bitcoin does not even have any sort of physical manifestation it is still worth more than any other “coin” out there.

Last edited 3 days ago by Kaiser Wilhelm

Why does the government keep losing money on making cents? it’s been like this for years, the mint winds up charging more from collectibles to make up the shortfall. Just make them for collectors like they did with dollar coins. Stores can round up to next nickel when making change – it literally costs more to count out pennies when making change than they are worth.

Kaiser Wilhelm

The word is out that people who don’t automatically put them all in jars literally throw their cents (sense?) away these days. What a waste in so many ways!


Who cares if it cost 2 cents to make a cent. It also cost them 7 cents to make a one hundred dollar bill. I think they are making up for it. LOL


I got my Tuskegee, D, in change today! Still no V75 quarters though! Some people


I’m buying the $100 bag of Tuskegee airman for $36.75 lol they’re still making money

Kaiser Wilhelm

This is clearly a case of the Mint falling down on the job in the illustration/visual editing department. It’s painfully obvious that they are showing the wrong bag; what it’s really supposed to say is “U.S. MINT…QUARTERS…$25.00. What a laugh! 🙂

Mike Zwolinski

If everyone dumped the pennies sitting in jars in closets around the country back into circulation there would be no reason to mint pennies for years.

Kaiser Wilhelm

Cents are now being stored by the billions in homes all across America in a variety of jars, cans, bottles, boxes, drawers, bags, piggy banks and yes, even actual coin rolls. Regarding what you said about those hoarded coins being sufficient to supply the nation with all the cents it would need for many years, I do believe that would be the case.

Cent Piggy Bank.jpg
Last edited 2 days ago by Kaiser Wilhelm