The Challenge Coin Rules: A Comprehensive Guide

Coin check! Do you have your challenge coin? No? Then this round of drinks is on you!

Are you wondering about the challenge coin rules and expectations? Don’t know what a challenge coin is? Fear not, we’ll go over the rules and etiquette for challenge coins in this guide!

What Is a Challenge Coin?

challenge coin is a ceremonial coin that is usually given to military service members for their achievements, but there are all kinds of coins out there to honor and celebrate many different kinds of people.

The coins can represent that branch of the military, or that organization or company. They can also be a reminder of a special event or accomplishment. 

Because these coins are unique, they also show that you’re a member of a specific group, and you could be asked to show your coin to prove your membership.

Types of Challenge Coins

Military challenge coins are the most common use for challenge coins, and there are different coins for different branches, divisions, and units. Some commanding officers also have their own coins they give out.

There are other challenge coins that are given out to first responders for their acts of bravery, such as to firefighters and police officers. 

Corporate coins can be used for branding and marketing purposes. If you’ve ever been to a conference and received dozens of business cards, you know they’re not so memorable. A challenge coin can be a way to spread brand or company awareness in a unique way.

Nowadays, many companies are using challenge coins as a way to honor employee achievements on big projects or tasks.

Challenge Coin Etiquette

Getting a challenge coin from someone is traditionally seen as a great honor. As such, there are rules and guidelines about how you should take care of your challenge coin, and how to handle it.

If you’ve been given a challenge coin, you must have it with you on your person at all times. You also need to keep it clean and in good condition. 

Be sure not to drop your coin, or you could “accidentally” initiate a coin check. Take good care of your coin to avoid doing this!

You may wear your coin in a pouch around your neck. Otherwise, you should not be using your coin as a belt buckle, necklace, or another accessory, since this is disrespectful. NEVER under any circumstances should you drill a hole in your coin.

When you’re giving a challenge coin to someone, the correct way to do it is to shake hands with them and transfer the coin to their hand. It should be discreet, so you don’t need to mention that you’re giving it to them. You must be sure that the person receiving the coin knows the rules for the game.

With that in mind, never hand anyone your coin during a coin check. That is the same as giving it to them. You can put your coin on the table, and anyone who wants to look at it must put it back where you had it.

Challenge Coin Rules

If you are going to challenge someone to a coin check, it’s important to follow the rules.

Any coin holder can initiate a coin check at any time. Usually, this will be when the group who got the coins is hanging out together, and often at a bar, but really, a challenge can be at any time at all.

The challenger can hold up the coin and call for a coin check, or (gently, but audibly) slam it on the table. It’s good etiquette for the challenger to declare if the check is for one drink for the challenger, or for a whole round for everyone.

Everyone who has been given a coin or who has bought one is a part of the game. You must be able to show your coin, or you will be responsible for buying drinks for the challenger.

If all those who were challenged are able to show their coins, then it is the challenger’s responsibility to buy drinks for those he or she challenged. Be careful who you challenge, since you might end up buying a lot of drinks that way.

You can only take a maximum of four steps in order to reach your coin if you are challenged. There are no exceptions to this rule, even if you’re not wearing any clothes. Keep this in mind, since challenges can take place any time, anywhere. 

Each coin holder can only be challenged once. This makes it fair so that you’re not making the same person buy drinks again the same night.

Finally, if you lose your coin, it’s up to you to replace it. Losing your coin does not excuse you from a coin check.

Fast Facts About Challenge Coins

One story about the history of coin checks goes back to World War II. Allied forces in West Germany who kept “pfenning” coins on their person were most likely too broke to buy the next round of drinks, since they were worth only a fraction of a cent. Anyone who did not have the coins would thus be responsible for buying drinks.

Anyone can have a coin, not just military veterans. US Presidents even have their own coins with the presidential seal!

Some rules state that you can only take one step, or that you must show your coin within ten seconds of the challenge being declared. Stay sharp!

Know the Challenge Coin Rules and Challenge Responsibly

If you’re going to initiate a coin check at a bar, make sure you can back it up! Know the challenge coin rules and be ready to buy drinks if everyone has their coins.

While this history of challenge coins comes from the military, coin checks are a fun tradition that anyone can be a part of, and they’re becoming more popular for civilian use nowadays. And, as with all alcoholic beverages, enjoy responsibly!

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