Business & Finance, Lifestyle

Challenge Coins – Factors That Affect the Value of Challenge Coins

Many people have drawers full of knick-knacks that only get a little use. But for people in the military, police force, and other organizations, a challenge coin is more than just a collectible.

The design choices for your custom coins can significantly affect the challenge coin price. Choosing the right metal is one such factor, and it’s also one of the most expensive.



In collectibles, rarity plays a big role in determining how much a challenge coin is worth. This is especially true for rare challenge coins only made in small quantities or used for special, one-time events. As such, they are not easily found and are often in high demand.

In addition to their rarity, challenge coins can also be valuable due to their sentimental value. For example, a challenge coin minted for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War I might be especially valued because members on covert missions reportedly carried it.

Since then, challenge coins have been used by military units and other organizations to signify membership, foster team spirit, and commemorate special events. Typically, these coins are engraved with designs representing the specific group or unit they belong to.

Sentimental Value

Undoubtedly, challenge coins have a high sentimental value for those who receive them. They’re a symbol of honor and recognition for those in the military and law enforcement, creating a bond and showing appreciation for their hard work and sacrifice.

In one popular challenge coin story, a pilot was captured by the French during World War II and was about to be executed when he remembered his squadron’s challenge coin. He presented the coin to the soldiers, who verified his identity and saved his life. This story has helped to spread the popularity of challenge coins throughout the military and beyond.

Unlike other collectibles, challenge coins aren’t usually bought for their financial value. However, collectors can be willing to pay a lot for rare or historic challenge coins, especially those associated with significant historical events.

Whether you’re ordering challenge coins for your military unit or a police department, several factors will affect the per-coin price. The main variables are the design cost, mold fee, and coin plating. Still, you’ll also want to consider other aspects like packaging, order quantity, and shipping & handling when getting a quote for your custom challenge coins. These factors will make a huge difference in the final per-coin price.

Military History

Although no one knows when and where challenge coins originated, most agree that military units first used them. The practice quickly grew in popularity during the Korean and Vietnam wars, when members of all branches and levels of the US armed forces began to embrace it. Possessing a unit’s challenge coin showed that the bearer shared the same values and experiences as their comrades, making it an effective means of identification.

One widely-shared challenge coin legend dates back to World War I. It tells of a wealthy lieutenant who had bronze medallions stamped with his flying squadron insignia made and presented them to his wingmen before his flights. During a combat mission over Germany, the lieutenant’s plane was shot down, and German soldiers captured him. He managed to escape his captors by showing them his squadron coin, which he kept in a leather pouch around his neck.

While this story sounds exciting, Air Force Historical Research Agency archivist Barry Spink doesn’t believe it to be true. He says the modern challenge coin tradition probably started in Vietnam when an Army infantry-run bar kept non-infantrymen out by forcing them to show their military IDs. As a result, some soldiers began carrying a small coin-sized version of their unit’s insignia to prove they were legit before entering the bar.


The design of challenge coins is important because it reflects the coin’s purpose. Whether you’re looking to honor a special event or build unity amongst your team, a great design will help you convey your message. A good design will also be recognizable and evoke an emotional connection.

The first aspect of design to consider is the shape of the coin. You can choose from various shapes, such as round, square, or triangle. You can also choose the thickness of your coin, which will affect its feel. Choosing a thicker coin will make it feel more durable and valuable.

Another element to consider is the color of your coin. You can choose from various colors: hard, soft, translucent, and glow enamel. You can also choose to have your coin have color on one side or both sides. You can even have your coin have a unique background texture, such as brickwork or stippling patterns.

The design of challenge coins is a time-honored tradition that started with military units and has since spread to law enforcement, fire departments, and other organizations. These coins are a great way to honor service members and build team morale. The sentimental value of these coins also makes them an excellent collectible.