Custom Coins and Challenge Coins: What's The Difference

Custom Coins and Challenge Coins: What's The Difference

Custom coins and challenge coins are similar, but not quite the same thing.

In terms of coins, there are coins we spend and coins we collect. There are classic, historical, and ancient coins to collect and custom coins and challenge coins. Below we examine the differences between custom coins and challenge coins, including the coins’ purpose, tradition, and intended use. 

Custom Coins

Custom coins are unique mementos. Organizations pass out custom coins to commemorate special events and serve as promotional items. Service organizations present challenge coins to denote membership, carrying a long, valued tradition along the way. 

At ChallengeCoins4Less, we've encountered many uses for custom coins. We've seen and created some unique designs, from marketing purposes to celebrating veteran employees. Custom coins are also popular with foreign dignitaries and government agencies. 

Many businesses use custom coins as business cards, to promote loyalty programs, and much more. They are also exceptional promotional products for trade shows. With many benefits, custom coins have grown in popularity in modern society. 

Challenge Coins

Military organizations mainly use challenge coins. Members carry them to show their affiliation to a particular unit. Nearly all unit levels have challenge coins made for their military members. These coins denote membership, as well as recognizing accomplishments and good merits. 

Challenge coins can also be handed out to show membership to an organization. Members often “challenge” one another to show their challenge coins. As a tradition, this generally takes place at a bar or other drinking establishments. Anyone not carrying their challenge coin will be responsible for purchasing drinks. This tradition has branched off from the military into several other organizations. 

The challenge coin tradition has become popular in the ranks of the FBI, CIA, police, fire and rescue organizations, and many other groups both public and private. Organizations often engage in a friendly competition to create the best-looking coins for their group. 

It's all about quality when it comes to challenge coins and custom coins. Understanding the difference will help you choose which one will work best for you. Find out more about the custom options for both right here.  

Jesse Daugherty

Jesse Daugherty


Hello, I'm Jesse Daugherty, a music enthusiast, sports aficionado, and an avid supporter of the arts. I'm a writer and content creator. For the past 5 years, I've shared my knowledge of custom challenge coins and other promotional products, exploring their designs, meaning, and purpose.