What is the History of Challenge Coins?

Challenge coins are tokens that have a ton of history and many different purposes throughout time. These coins might be a great investment for you and your company to help your branding or simply used to commemorate someone’s service. To learn more about these coins and they came from, keep reading.

What Is A Challenge Coin?

If you ever find yourself at a military ceremony for one reason or another, you might see a soldier being honored for their service that is above and beyond the call of duty.

You may notice that when the solider approaches the stand, they are handed a metal coin, what exactly is this? It’s a Challenge Coin.

Challenge coins are coins that are designed specially to give confirmation of someone onto a group or organization. Challenge coins can also honor someone for their special achievement.


Challenge coins are metal and small and can easily fit into the palm of your hand. Each coin has a design that is unique to the organization that it represents. There is an insignia or emblem of the organization which is directly etched into the coin.

Usually, the organization’s motto will be engraved on the edge of the coin. There might even be a colored enamel that is painted into this etching, but this depends on the coin’s unique design.

Usually, these coins are round, but some challenge coins are in other shapes with cutouts or other unique features such as being able to be used as a bottle opener. Challenge coins can be made out a range of different metals such as bronze, brass or zinc, while other more expensive coins are made out 24-carat gold.

What Does a Challenge Coin Represent?

Challenge coins can represent units, teams, or organizations. These coins can also represent an anniversary, achievement, or a special event. These coins can build a close-knit, bond between people.

Of course, there is a long-standing tradition with challenge coins in military history. However, the military isn’t the only type of service that uses these coins.

There also civilian groups that are starting to use challenge coins to represent business accomplishments. This is a fairly new way to represent challenge coins, as these coins tend to build morale in teams, link people who have similar interests or even help to promote a brand.

Military Challenge Coins

There are a lot of traditional challenge coins which represent each military branch, special groups, individual units, and even specific missions. Military leaders can also have their own coins. Usually, top generals and the President of the United States have challenge coins that are unique and special to them.

There are also service members that are known to develop large collections of challenge coins for their time in the military. These members will feel a sense of pride and belonging for when they show their various coins.

First Responders Challenge Coins

First responders, like in the military, also use challenge coins to show honor for service. Law enforcement agencies and also firefighters will use challenge coins to honor line of duty special accomplishments.

Politicians and government agencies use challenge coins to recognize their community’s first responders. In this sense, challenge coins create a sense of unity and honor during times of loss and or tragedy. Challenge coins are really important tokens that can last a lifetime.

What is the Purpose of a Challenge Coin?

The point of challenge coins really depends on why the coin was made in the first place. These coins can be used for recognition, commemorate a special event, anniversary, membership or form a bond between people in a group.

In the military, these coins show proof that you served on a specific tour of duty or proof that you are a member of a unit. These coins mean you have a membership to an elite group of people.

These coins date back to early military history when they were used for security. Service members could have been required to show these coins as proof of their loyalty. Today this might not be necessary, but being a member of a team is a still a strong military tradition that these coins help symbolize.

Awards And Recognition

Challenge coins are also used to award members of a team that perform their duties very well. When you give them a coin as a reward for their excellent performance, this help builds morale and pride. Getting a challenge coin is a huge honor and team members will work really hard to get one.

Creates Bonds and Connections

Challenge coins are also a tradition that keeps members of the military connected to each other, even after they leave their service. Veterans tend to frequently display their coins from the units they have served in, leaders they have met or missions they have been on.

First responders will receive coins when they perform heroic efforts during a time of tragedy. Challenge coins can also pay tribute to events members of an organization have endured together, while creating a lifetime bond. Challenge coins are keepsakes that will last a lifetime.


More recently, challenge coins are being used to identify corporate logos or brands. Corporations are starting to hand out these coins at conferences, trade shows, and sales events. Challenge coins certainly have more of a meaningful effect than say a business card.

If you’re trying to get your company’s name around, why not put it on a challenge coin that also is a beer opener. That way potential clients will always think about your company, every time they crack open a cold one to relax.

This is such a more subtle way to brand your company compared to flooding people’s inboxes or with annoying ads. Check out this website for more information.

Get Your Challenge Coin

Now that you know all about the history of challenge coins and how much they mean to those who served the military, to companies looking to bond, isn’t it time you get a challenge coin for someone who deserves it? There are different types of challenge coins you can get, find the one that’s right for you today.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.