What Do You Do With A Challenge Coin?

7 minute read

Published on: 06 Oct 2020

Last modified on: 18 Mar 2024

What Do You Do With A Challenge Coin
Table of Contents

The Rich History and Modern Appeal of Challenge Coins

While challenge coins may sometimes seem like “simple” collectibles, the history and uses behind them go back for years and years. In fact, the challenge coin itself is part of a long, storied tradition with deep roots in the military. On top of that, challenge coins function, in a way, like game tokens. 

Though challenge coins started out as a military-specific practice, they’ve since extended to the general public. Families, groups, clubs, and even some businesses are getting in on the challenge coin action and it’s a fun tradition to partake in. 

If you’ve ever asked “what do you do with a challenge coin?” here are the answers you need. 

The Evolution of Challenge Coins

Challenge coins have a storied history that dates back to their origins in the military. Traditionally, these coins served as symbols of camaraderie, achievement, and recognition within various branches of the armed forces. The practice of awarding these coins has deep roots, with numerous tales and traditions underscoring their importance in military culture. From signifying membership to a particular unit, to being used as a tool for morale boosting, challenge coins have played a pivotal role in military history.

From Military Roots to Modern-Day Etiquette

As challenge coins have transitioned from exclusive military artifacts to tokens of unity and achievement in civilian life, the etiquette surrounding them has also evolved. Despite their broader adoption, the core principles of challenge coin etiquette remain deeply influenced by their military origins. Today, challenge coins are not just limited to the armed forces; they are also embraced by families, clubs, businesses, and various organizations as symbols of unity and shared experiences.

The challenge coin etiquette thrives on respect, tradition, and the recognition of one's contribution to a group or cause. Whether in the military or civilian context, the act of presenting and receiving challenge coins is governed by unwritten rules that all holders are expected to know and follow. These include always carrying your coin, being ready to present it during a coin check, and treating the coin with the honor it deserves.

The challenge coin tradition underscores a unique blend of history, honor, and community, making it a cherished practice that extends well beyond its military roots. As we continue to embrace these tokens of achievement and camaraderie, understanding and respecting the etiquette that comes with them ensures that the legacy of challenge coins remains intact for generations to come.

Understanding Challenge Coin Etiquette

Know your challenge etiquette. Using a challenge coin sounds pretty straightforward. After all, the rules are thus: The last person to present their coin in a social situation is responsible for paying for the next round of drinks. Seems easy, right? Well, if that’s all there was to it, it’s unlikely that the challenge coin tradition would have stuck around nearly as long as it did. 

The Dos and Don'ts of Coin Challenges

What makes challenge coins so fun and interesting is that there are rules, insider modifications, and challenge etiquette that all work together to spice things up. And it’s important to always follow the established rules. That’s because if you’re found guilty of a rule infraction or if you break etiquette, drinks are probably on you. Unless you have some every deep pockets, you don’t want to be responsible for everybody’s bar tab. 

What Do You Do With a Challenge Coin

At this point, you’re probably champing at the bit to know exactly what challenge etiquette is. Luckily, it’s not too hard to follow: 

  • Always explain the rules: What’s the fun of playing a game if nobody knows the rules? Before any challenges are issues, make sure that each person present clearly understands how the game works. Otherwise, things will quickly descend into chaos. While chaos can be fun, massive bar tabs aren’t. 
  • Carry your coin: There are no exceptions to this rule. You could run to the bathroom quickly and be caught with your pants down but you’d still be expected to present your coin. Never leave it sitting anywhere. 
  • Challenges can happen at any time: This branches off of that last point. Even if you’re taking a nice relaxing shower, if you get challenged, you should be prepared to flash your coin. 
  • The challenger states the terms: Most commonly, your challenges are for an entire round of drinks for every player. However, sometimes a challenger will say it’s for a single drink of the loser’s choosing. Make sure to clearly state your intentions. 
  • Never pass out your coin: You need to remember that it’s an honor to receive a challenge coin. When you hand one to someone, you’re essentially gifting it to them. If somebody is that curious about seeing the design of your coin, you need to hold it in your palm or let the person view it while it’s on a table. 
  • A coin is a coin: Your coin isn’t a fashion accessory, piece of jewelry, or a belt buckle. You should respect the long history of the challenge coin and treat it with the care it deserves. It’s also key to note that you should never drill a hole into a coin under any circumstances.
  • You’ve been considered worthy: If you possess a coin or have been given one, you’re in on the game. Again, it’s a pretty high honor to hold onto a challenge coin and should always be treated as such. 

Of course, these are just some of the standard rules that almost everyone follows. Between different groups of friends, family, and even coworkers may have some of their own modifications and rule changes. That’s part of why it’s just so important to explain the rules at the beginning. Depending on who you’re with, other people may have used different modifiers or even entirely different rulesets. It will truly vary from group to group. 

The Art of Challenge Coin Design

Challenge coin designs: Challenge coins come in a wide array of different designs. Some even come in different shapes and sizes. The ultimate goal is to ensure that every single coin is unique to the group that carries it. This is part of the reason that some people work for their entire lives to collect different coins, especially if they are from military members. Many current and former service members will have entire displays of coins in their homes. 

As far as designs are concerned, many of the concepts form very naturally. This is because they’re often representative of military platoons and squadrons. As such, it’s important to capture the essence of the service members on the coins. Certain colors, numbers, and even phrases are incredibly important to these groups and need to be adequately represented on their challenge coins. 

However, when it comes to civilian groups and workgroups, designs tend to vary pretty wildly. Often, designs will represent shared memories, important milestones, and special moments that coworkers, friends, and family members cherish. 

Many people believe they need to have a fully-formed design before they ever contact a challenge coin company. Thankfully, that’s not the case. This is perfect if you don’t consider yourself to be particularly artistically inclined. As long as you come ready with a general notion of what a coin should look like, any qualified artist can turn it into a true statement piece. 

Collaborating for Unique Creations

Pick the pros: For those who are ready to develop their own unique challenge coins, there’s no better place to start than here. The experts at Custom Challenge Coins know exactly how to take a strong idea or concept and turn it into a full-fledged reality. If you want a token of your group that will call back memories for the rest of your life, we’ve got you covered. Our design process is simple and straightforward. Plus, we can work with almost any budget to develop some outstanding coins. To learn more, contact Custom Challenge Coins today or request a consultation with one of our designers. We can’t wait to turn your ideas into art. 

Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After retiring from the military, Jack moved to Austin, Texas, to start a new chapter in his life. He has always been passionate about storytelling and decided to become a writer and podcaster. He runs a successful podcast where he discusses military history, shares personal anecdotes, and interviews other veterans. Jack also writes often about military traditions and history.

Related Articles

how to present a challenge coin

How to Present a Challenge Coin

6 minute read
What if everything you knew about challenge coins was wrong? Top Highlights Challenge coins are fascinating objects with an equally fascinating history. Unfortunately, many who own them do not know how to show a challenge coin to others. Do you know what to do in such a situation? Keep reading to learn everything you need […]
What is a CIA Challenge Coin?

What is a CIA Challenge Coin? 

6 minute read
What is a CIA challenge coin? Learn more about the significance of CIA challenge coins and how they honor their department uniquely in this article.
Can any marine tell me about the marine coin tradition

What are Marine Corps Challenge Coins and the tradition it holds?

5 minute read
Do you understand the marine challenge coin tradition? Find out about the marine coin tradition and why service members are proud to carry the Marine Corps challenge coin.

Join Us to Get Savings!

Like a good deal? Sign up to get challenge coin deals delivered to your inbox. Join us today and save! 
All Rights Reserved. All symbols, logos and slogans depicted are registered trademarks of their respective owners. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense visual information does not imply or constitute endorsement. By submitting designs to CustomChallengeCoins.net, subsidiary of MetalPromo LLC, the purchasing party warrants that he, she, or it has/had the legal right to reproduce (or have reproduced) any logos or other images associated with his/her/its order. Samples on the site are for illustrative purposes only and are not for sale.
envelopephonemagnifiercrossmenuchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram