Currency and Coin Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Federal Reserve Financial Services is committed to providing the information you need. Answers to many of our customers most frequently asked questions can be found using the links below.

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Currency Questions

Coin Questions


Q: What is the role of the Federal Reserve with respect to banknotes and coins?

A: Currency

Within the Federal Reserve System, there are three entities responsible for the management and distribution of currency.

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is the issuing authority for Federal Reserve notes, the currency of the United States. The Board has a wide range of responsibilities related to Federal Reserve notes, from ensuring an adequate supply to protecting and maintaining confidence in U.S. currency.

Working very closely with the Board, the Federal Reserve System’s Cash Product Office (CPO) is responsible for strategic leadership to Reserve Bank cash departments by formulating policies, operational guidance, and technology strategies for U.S. currency and coin services provided nationally and internationally. The CPO’s primary mission and responsibility is to maintain public confidence in U.S. currency.

The 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks and their branches distribute Federal Reserve notes to the public through depository institutions. Reserve Banks process notes on high-speed sorting machines that check to ensure they are genuine and fit for commerce. If the notes are deemed suspect counterfeits, Reserve Banks forward them to the local U.S. Secret Service office. If they are genuine and still in good condition, the notes are sent to depository institutions to fill orders for currency. An individual note continues moving through this cycle until it is deemed unfit, or too worn, to be kept in circulation. Unfit notes are destroyed on-site at Reserve Banks in order to maintain the quality of currency in circulation.

Coins

Unlike currency, the United States Mint is the issuing authority for coins. Reserve Banks distribute new and circulated coin to depository institutions to meet the public's demand, and take as deposits coin that exceeds the public's needs.

SOURCE: Board of Governors, FAQs (http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12626.htm) (Off-site Link)

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Q: Is U.S. currency still backed by gold?

A: Federal Reserve notes are not redeemable in gold, silver, or any other commodity. Federal Reserve notes have not been redeemable in gold since January 30, 1934, when the Congress amended Section 16 of the Federal Reserve Act to read: "The said [Federal Reserve] notes shall be obligations of the United State. They shall be redeemed in lawful money on demand at the Treasury Department of the United States, in the city of Washington, District of Columbia, or at any Federal Reserve Bank." Federal Reserve notes have not been redeemable in silver since the 1960s. Congress has specified that Federal Reserve Banks must hold collateral equal in value to the Federal Reserve notes that the Federal Reserve Banks place into circulation. This collateral is chiefly held in the form of U.S. Treasury, federal agency, and government-sponsored securities.

SOURCE: Board of Governors, FAQs (http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12770.htm) (Off-site Link)

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Q: Which denominations of currency does the Federal Reserve issue?

A: The Federal Reserve Board currently issues $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 notes. The largest denomination Federal Reserve note ever issued for public circulation was the $10,000 note. On July 14, 1969, the Federal Reserve and the Department of the Treasury announced that banknotes in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 (Off-site Links) would be discontinued due to lack of use. Although they were issued until 1969, they were last printed in 1945.

SOURCE: Board of Governors, FAQs (http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12600.htm) (Off-site Link)

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Q: How much does it cost to produce currency?

A: Each year, the Federal Reserve Board projects the need for new currency, which it acquires from the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing at the cost of production. The new currency budget (Off-site Link) for 2014 is $826.7 million, and reflects the following costs per denomination:

  • $1 and $2 notes -- 5.4 cents per note
  • $5 -- 10.1 cents per note
  • $10 notes -- 9.2 cents per note
  • $20 and $50 notes --10.2 cents per note
  • $100 note -- 13.1 cents per note

SOURCE: Board of Governors, FAQs (http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12771.htm) (Off-site Link)

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Q: How much U.S. currency is in circulation?

A: Visit the Board of Governors website at http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12773.htm (Off-site Link) for the most recent update on currency in circulation.

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Q: What is currency paper made of?

A: Currency paper is one-fourth linen and three-fourths cotton.

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Q: What is the length of the dollar bill and how much does currency weigh?

A: Length = 6 1/8 inches (all denominations are the same)
Strap = 100 notes = 3.48 ounces
Bundle = 1,000 notes = 2.19 pounds
Brick = 4,000 notes = 8.75 pounds
Cash Pak = 16,000 notes = 35 pounds
Based on 1996 Series

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Q: How can I obtain a specific series note or coin?

A: To obtain a specific note or coin, we recommend you contact the institution you bank with to see if it will honor your request. Federal Reserve Banks provide currency only to depository institutions, which then distribute it to members of the public.  The U.S. Mint also sells certain commemorative and collectible coins and coin sets to the public through their website (Off-site Link).

SOURCE: Board of Governors, FAQs (http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12598.htm) (Off-site Link)

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Q: How can I find out how much a specific bill is worth?

A: If you believe that a bill may be worth more than its face value, you should consult a currency collector or dealer.

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Q: What is mutilated currency and where can I redeem it?

A: Mutilated currency is a note that has been damaged to the extent that one-half or less of the note remains, or its value is questionable and special examination by trained experts at the Department of the Treasury or the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP)  (Off-site Link) is required before any exchange is made.

The Federal Reserve DOES NOT accept deposits of mutilated currency. Mutilated currency must be sent directly to the BEP with a letter stating the estimated value of the currency and an explanation of how the currency became mutilated.

Call the BEP toll-free number, 866-575-2361, or visit the BEP Web site (Off-site Link) to obtain information on shipping instructions for mutilated currency, and to see photographic examples.

For more information on mutilated currency, please visit the Mutilated Currency and Bent and Partial Coin procedures page.

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Q: Where can I get $2 bills?

A: Local banks should have $2 bills. If your bank does not have any current inventory, it can order $2 bills from the Federal Reserve Bank.

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Q: Where can I purchase sheets of uncut currency?

A: You can purchase uncut currency from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Off-site Link).

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Q: How do I purchase/obtain a supply of shredded currency?

A: Federal Reserve Banks may distribute small packages of the currency residue to visitors and other members of the public in connection with Bank tours and other information and public relations programs. It can also be purchased in larger quantities from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Off-site Link).

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Q: How do I determine if a banknote is genuine? What should I do if I think I have a counterfeit note?

A: The best way to determine whether a note is genuine is to rely on the security features, such as the watermark and security thread. Counterfeit pens will not detect all counterfeit notes. Most counterfeit detection pens contain an iodine-based solution that reacts to the presence of starch in wood-based papers, leaving a black mark on the note. When used on genuine U.S. currency, which is printed on paper made of cotton and linen, the pen leaves a faint yellow or clear mark. Some counterfeiters use paper that is not wood-based or chemicals that mask the wood-based properties and thus may not be revealed as fake by a counterfeit detection pen.

To learn about security features in genuine Federal Reserve notes, visit the new money public education website (Off-site Link). It is important to know what the security features are in genuine currency, because if you end up with a counterfeit note, you will lose that money. A counterfeit note cannot be exchanged for a genuine one, and it is illegal to knowingly pass counterfeit currency. If you live in the United States and think you have received a counterfeit note, immediately notify the local police. Try to remember the physical characteristics of the person who passed the suspect counterfeit, and if possible, write down the person's license plate number and vehicle description. Store the suspect counterfeit apart from genuine currency and release it as soon as possible to law enforcement authorities.

If you live outside the United States and want to report counterfeit currency, you should notify the U.S. Secret Service field office in your region. The Law Enforcement (Off-site Link) section of our currency education website, http://www.newmoney.gov/newmoney/default.aspx (Off-site Link), offers contact information for U.S. Secret Service field offices around the world.

SOURCE: Board of Governors, FAQs (http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12597.htm) (Off-site Link)

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Q: Why does the United States periodically redesign its currency?

A: We redesign U.S. currency to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats and keep counterfeiting levels low.

The Federal Reserve, together with our partners at the Treasury Department, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the United States Secret Service, continuously monitor the counterfeiting threats for each denomination of U.S. currency and make redesign decisions based on these threats. An inter-agency committee makes recommendations on design changes to the Secretary of the Treasury, who has final authority for U.S. currency designs.

SOURCE: Board of Governors, FAQs (http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12767.htm) (Off-site Link)

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Q: Where can I find information on the new $100 note?

A: Information on the new $100 note is posted on the New Money (Off-siteLink) website.

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Q: Is it legal for a business in the United States to refuse cash as a form of payment?

A: Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," states: "United States coins and currency [including Federal Reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal Reserve banks and national banks] are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."

This statute means that all United States money as identified above is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.

SOURCE: Board of Governors, FAQs (http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12772.htm) (Off-site Link)

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Q: How can I get new currency?

A: To obtain new currency, we recommend you contact your local bank to see if it has new currency inventory. Federal Reserve Banks provide currency only to depository institutions, which then distribute it to members of the public.

Each Federal Reserve Office fills orders with fit notes first in order to minimize the printing costs for new currency. Under certain circumstances, some Reserve Bank Offices may also accept requests for new currency at different times throughout the year. For further information and instructions on these types of requests, please visit Holiday Currency Information.

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Coin Questions

Q: How much does it cost to produce coin?

A: The United States Mint determines annual coin production. The Federal Reserve’s Cash Product Office influences this process by providing the Mint with monthly coin orders and a twelve-month, rolling coin-order forecast. Reserve Banks purchase coin at face value from the Mint. Further details on coins can be found on the Mint's website (Off-site Link).

SOURCE: Board of Governors, FAQs (http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12771.htm) (Off-site Link)

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Q: Where can I take worn (“Uncurrent”) coins to exchange them for new ones?

A: Bent and partial coin is coin that has been bent or twisted out of shape, punched, clipped, plugged, fused, or defaced, but that can be identified as to genuineness and denomination. Bent and partial coin is not redeemable at face value; it is redeemable only at its bullion (metal) value as established by the Director of the U.S. Mint.

The Federal Reserve DOES NOT accept deposits of mutilated coin. Mutilated coin should be forwarded via 'Registered Mail, Return Receipt Requested' to the address below with documentation of the circumstances:

United States Mint
Independence Mall
P.O. Box 400
Philadelphia, PA 19105

For more information on mutilated currency, please visit the Mutilated Currency and Bent and Partial Coin procedures page.

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Q: Where can I get new uncirculated coins?

A: Neither the Federal Reserve Banks nor the U.S. Mint provide coins directly to the public for circulation purposes. Instead, coins are placed into circulation through depository institutions (e.g. banks, savings & loans, credit unions, thrifts). The Reserve Banks issue circulated coins before new coins. You may need to contact several banks about supplies of new coins. The U.S. Mint sells certain commemorative and collectible coins and coin sets to the public through their website at http://www.usmint.gov (Off-site Link)

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Q: Where can I get golden dollars?

A: The U.S. Mint sells golden dollars directly to the public from their website (Off-site Link), or you may ask your local bank if they have any inventory.

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Q: How can I obtain an Eisenhower dollar?

A: Most Eisenhower dollars are in circulation. The U.S. Mint discontinued minting Eisenhower dollars in December 1978, and the last of the Eisenhower dollars were distributed to the Federal Reserve Banks in April 1979. Because the Eisenhower dollars are no longer minted, the Reserve Banks cannot order them from the U.S. Mint and supply them to banks. Please check with a coin dealer for information.

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Q: Where can I get more information about new coin releases?

A: Please visit the U.S. Mint Web site at http://www.usmint.gov (Off-site Link).

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Q: Are coins honoring current and historical people, events, and places worth more than other coins with the same indicated face value?

A: No, all coins are valued at their face value. However, certain coins may have special numismatic value. Please check with a coin dealer for information.

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Q: Can I melt, drill holes through, or mutilate U.S. coins?

A: It is a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 331 (Off-site Link) to alter a U.S. or foreign coin with the intent to defraud.  The United States Mint cannot issue interpretations of criminal statutes such as this, which fall within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice.  Furthermore, 31 C.F.R. Part 82 states that no person shall export, melt or treat any 5-cent coin or one-cent coin of the United States.  For more information, please consult the U.S. Mint’s Frequently Asked Questions (Off-site Link).

SOURCE: Board of Governors, FAQs (http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12771.htm) (Off-site Link)

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