Strangest Things Used as Currency Around the World

Investing in cryptocurrency is the latest trend in economics, but there have been many forms of legal tender since ancient times. In fact, some strange payment instruments are still in use today and accepted by the legal system. 

Some strange payment instruments are still in use and accepted by the legal system.

© Getty Images
Some strange payment instruments are still in use and accepted by the legal system.

From worthless trillion-dollar Zimbabwe currency to unmovable stones in Micronesia with their value given through oral tradition, these are the strangest things used as currency around the world.


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Disney Dollars

Where used: U.S. Disney theme parks and facilities

Bottom line: Disney Dollars were redeemable currency at Disney-owned businesses and looked similar in size and design to U.S. currency, except instead of Washington, Lincoln, and Jackson, the bills had images of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and the rest of the gang.

While the company discontinued their production in 2016, they are still redeemable at the Disney resorts, on Disney cruise ships, and at certain parts of Castaway Cay, Disney’s private Caribbean island.

Ithaca Hours

Where used: Ithaca, New York

Bottom line: One of the first ever local currencies of its kind, the Ithaca Hour made its debut in 1991 to encourage people to patronize local businesses. This time-based currency system equaled one hour of work or $10.

At one time, there were more than $100,000 Ithaca Hours in circulation. As electronic payment status became the norm, the need for Ithaca Hours started to decrease in the early 2000s.

A company named Ithacash took over the currency, creating an online marketplace where patrons could transact in Ithaca Hours or U.S. dollars. However, the website hasn’t been operational since about 2017. 


Where used: Berkshires region, Massachusetts

Bottom line: BerkShares are purchased for about 95 cents by Berkshires residents and are used when patronizing area merchants. 

They can also be used to make change, pay salaries or support charities. Currently, over 400 locally owned businesses accept them, as do four banks in the area. 

Antarctican Dollar

Where used: Antarctica

Bottom line: The Antarctican dollar, also known as an Emp, was named in honor of the continent’s emperor penguins. 

While it’s not considered legal tender, visitors take them home and keep them as collectibles. 

Not that there’s too many places to shop, but there is a Wells Fargo ATM at McMurdo Station, should you need a latte.


Breadcoin is designed to empower and feed underserved communities.

© Wikipedia
Breadcoin is designed to empower and feed underserved communities.

Where used: Washington, D.C., and Maryland

Bottom line: Needy families in the Washington, D.C., and Maryland area use these community food tokens, created in 2016. Monthly donors fund the coins, which are then given out to those in need.

Over 60 food vendors in the area accept the currency, and recipients can use them to purchase food from any of those retailers.

For more, check out Work + Money.

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