It also prevents the gift being spent on something the giver views as undesirable (or used as savings). In a broad sense, the term scrip refers to any type of substitutional currency that replaces legal tender. In many instances, a scrip is a form of credit but is generally always some form of documentation of debt. Some companies still issue scrip notes and token coin, good for use at company points of sale. When U.S. President Andrew Jackson issued his Specie Circular of 1836 due to credit shortages, Virginia Scrip was accepted as payment for federal lands. The practice of paying wages in company scrip was abolished by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Gift cards also allow the user to control how and where the card is spent since they can only be used in specific locations. Gift cards or certificates for certain stores or restaurants further restrict the recipient’s spending. Scrips come in many different forms, primarily as a form of credit, with the document acknowledging the debt.

  1. The same law abolished child labor and set the minimum wage at 25 cents an hour.
  2. Poker chips, also referred to as casino tokens, are commonly used as money with which to gamble.
  3. Some companies still issue scrip notes and token coin, good for use at company points of sale.
  4. Besides company scrip, other forms of scrip include land scrip, vouchers, token coins such as subway tokens, IOUs, arcade tokens and tickets, and points on some credit cards.

This system, which began during the Industrial Revolution, meant that employees were paid in kind with commodities, vouchers, tokens, or some other form instead of cash. Scrip was used extensively in prisoner-of-war camps during World War II, at least in countries that complied with the Third Geneva Convention. Under the Geneva Conventions, enlisted prisoners of war could be made to work and had to be paid for their labor, but not necessarily in cash. Since ordinary money could be used in escape attempts, they were given scrip that could only be used with the approval of camp authorities, usually only within the camps. All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only.

Scrip evolved in the 1980s to include a popular method of fundraising. This fundraising option is specifically popular among bands, athletic groups, schools, and other nonprofit organizations. Because they are used as currency substitutes, scrips can be useful in the study of money and monetary economy. Poker chips, also referred to as casino tokens, are commonly used as money with which to gamble. The use of chips as company money in the early 19th century in Devon, England, in the Wheal Friendship[5] copper mine gave its name to a local village of Chipshop. Scrips were created to pay or compensate employees under the truck system.

Community-issued scrip

Scrips also represent a temporary document representing fractional shares resulting from a split or spin-off, or they may indicate currency issued by a private corporation such as frequent flier miles. In the retail and fundraising industries, scrip is now issued in the form of gift cards, eCards, or less commonly paper gift certificates. Physical gift cards often have a magnetic strip or optically readable bar code to facilitate redemption at the point of sale.

Understanding Scrips

By receiving a scrip dividend, investors can increase the size of their holdings without paying extra fees or charges. Scrips have also been widely used in localized commerce when traditional or legal currency is unavailable or in short supply. This includes small communities or towns—such as the first coal towns—in remote locations, military bases, ships at sea for long periods of time, and in occupied countries during wartime. Visa, Mastercard and American Express gift cards are initially funded by a credit card or bank account, after which the funding account and gift card are not connected to one another. A gift of a gift card, maybe in an attractive wrapper, may be seen as more socially acceptable than a gift of cash.


A scrip dividend is when a company gives its shareholders the option of receiving a dividend in either cash or company stock. Receiving a dividend in stock allows the shareholder to grow their holdings without having to buy the shares on the open market, while also allowing the company to reinvest the extra capital into its operations. The primary advantage of using scrip is that the issuing company can limit its cash outflows while encouraging repeat business. For example, a company that issues refunds in store credit makes it more likely for the unhappy customer to return, and also allows them to preserve the positive cash flow from the original purchase. When a company offers its shareholders a scrip dividend, it offers them the choice to receive dividends in the form of more shares or in cash.

If the share price rises after a scrip dividend is announced, a company may end up paying more in dividends than they originally planned. Companies issue scrips to do business while postponing cash payment to a later date. Since scrip can only be redeemed at the issuing company, paying in scrip effectively ensures that the recipient will continue doing business with the company while allowing the issuer to reduce their cash outflows. In some cases, scrips can be used as a cash substitute in remote areas where official currency is in short supply. The most widely visible and most modern form of scrip is used in the retail industry in the form of gift cards or gift certificates. Since it can sometimes be considered improper to give cash as a gift, it can be acceptable to give someone a gift card as a present.

Every Letter Is Silent, Sometimes: A-Z List of Examples

Besides company scrip, other forms of scrip include land scrip, vouchers, token coins such as subway tokens, IOUs, arcade tokens and tickets, and points on some credit cards. During the American industrial revolution, scrip was a common form of payment in company towns and remote communities where the employer was also the only provider of food and housing. By paying workers in a private currency that could only be used in the company stores, the employer could both extract more wealth from their workers and also prevent them from leaving. The exploitative nature of company scrip was a factor in several strikes and armed rebellions.Although paying wages in scrip was prohibited in 1938, they are still used in today’s world. In certain companies, scrips may come in the form of rewards points or coupons. For example, Canadian retailer Canadian Tire issues its own form of currency—Canadian Tire—money that looks like real currency but isn’t.

Customers receive a percentage of Canadian Tire money back when they make purchases. This “cash” can then be used toward purchases made at retail and gas station purchases. Likewise, issuing a scrip dividend will allow a company to retain cash scrip means flow while still rewarding their shareholders. This extra capital can then be reinvested in the company, without additional borrowing. Shareholders who receive a scrip dividend can increase their holdings for free, without any additional fees.

A scrip issue, or bonus issue, is when a company creates new shares and awards them to existing stockholders. This is different from a scrip dividend, where stockholders are given the choice of receiving cash or shares. Other forms for scrip include land scrip, token coins (such as those used on subways), vouchers, IOUs, and tokens and tickets used at arcades or game centers. A scrip election gives shareholders the right to choose, or “elect,” to receive a scrip dividend instead of a cash dividend.

Examples of scrip

The same law abolished child labor and set the minimum wage at 25 cents an hour. The Alberta Social Credit Party government in 1937 issued prosperity certificates, a form of provincial currency, in an effort to encourage spending. This scrip had boxes in which a stamp equal to 2% of the value had to be affixed each week. Thus, the value of the certificate was covered by the cost of the stamps at the year’s end when it matured. Company scrip is a substitute for currency to pay a company’s employees.

This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional. Stamp scrip was a type of local money designed to be circulated and not to be hoarded. A variety of forms of scrip were used at various times in the 19th and 20th centuries. After World War I and World War II, scrip was used as notgeld (“emergency money”) in Germany and Austria.

Retailers provide nonprofit groups with gift cards and certificates at a discounted rate. Those organizations can then sell the scrip (the cards) to family, friends, and people in their communities at full face value. The nonprofit keeps the discount from the sale of the card as revenue or as money toward its fundraising goal.