The Beautiful Tradition of Challenge Coins

Challenge coins can be small coins typically about 1 ½ to 2 inch in diameter or customized medallions that have an organization’s insignia or emblem. These can be made of pewter, copper and nickel with a customized finish.

There are different versions of when these coins were first used in the military. The oldest story is from the times of the Roman Empire. Soldiers were awarded coins for their loyalty and service in the legion.

One popular story is of an unfortunate airman during World War I who was shot down behind enemy lines. The Germans took all of his possessions except for the coin given to him by his superior officer. The coin had his squadron’s insignia imprinted on it. When the airman escaped, he was able to reach France. But as bad luck may have it, he was suspected to be a spy. His coin saved him from a firing squad as it identified him as one of the allies.

Challenge coins

In almost all reported wars, challenge coins have been used to award bravery and recognize a serviceman’s patriotism.

In modern times, the military continue to use coins as part of their culture of recognizing military personnel. Coins from Presidents are considered one of the highest honors an enlisted serviceman can receive.

The challenge coin got its name from a tradition of presenting these items as proof of membership in a squadron. Often members of the military whether in current service or a veteran would meet up to socialize. When asking each other what squadron or which commanding officer they serve under, a proof was often needed as most are out of uniform. This was considered as a challenge. All one needed to do was to show his coin to win. The usual wager for a challenge was a pint or a bottle.

In recent years, these coins have slowly found its way to civilians.  Organizations and companies use them for various reasons.


Sales companies have started using coins as a way to recognize representatives who reach their sales quotas. It encourages a friendly competition while reinforcing the company’s focus on sales.

Companies that provide service such as customer assistance or technical support use these coins to award excellent job performance or customer commendations. Since these kinds of companies depend on their customers for continued business, the coins are a great way to inspire dedication and adherence to policies.

Whatever performance indicator a company uses, challenge coins effectively boost employee morale by recognizing hard work. These are visual representations of a person’s success at his job.
Milestone Marker

Organizations such as support groups use these coins to celebrate milestones reached. For example, an individual undergoing rehabilitation for substance abuse receives a coin for being clean for certain periods of time. This is a way to help a person overcome their addiction.


When a person joins a club or organization, one of the reasons is usually the need to be a part of something exclusive. The coin helps reinforce this exclusivity as it is a visual proof of one belonging to a special group.

The coins also promote camaraderie as it helps members recognize each other in gatherings. For large organizations, this is a convenient way to socialize and discuss matters that concern their group.

Spreads Awareness

Fund Raising activities to support a cause are quite common nowadays. Organizations use challenge coins to encourage donors and members to continue their support. These could be sold through auctions or be given as mementos for the events.

Reward Excellence

International organizations use coins to recognize excellence in different specialty fields. This includes journalism, research or humanitarian achievements by professionals who are passionate about their crafts. The coins are distinguished awards that affirm one’s talent and dedication.

Recognize Loyalty

Loyalty is an integral factor in an organization’s or company’s success. Often this is overlooked and unappreciated. However, in recent years, loyalty awards have become more common and this has encouraged members and employees to stay longer. Coins awarded make the recipient feel valued and encourage a better performance. No longer is loyal service only recognized when the person retires.

Your company or organization can also use challenge coins to reward performance or promote a cause you support. You can have your own coins customized for whatever purpose you need. You can choose the metal and finish for the coin that will bear your emblem or insignia for an award that is sure to delight your employees.

Start creating the beautiful challenge coin tradition for your organization. You can get more ideas about challenge coins by visiting Challengecoins4less.