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How much do you know about cash?

We use cash as part of our daily lives, but how much do you know about its history and features? While cash usage has fluctuated over the past several years, it continues to be a reliable form of payment. Check out these five facts about cash:

  1. U.S. currency paper is composed of 25% linen and 75% cotton

    Despite its light weight, U.S. currency is quite sturdy. Currency paper is made of a cotton and linen blend with red and blue fibers distributed randomly throughout to make imitation more difficult.
  2. Each denomination of Federal Reserve notes has its own identifiers and symbols that serve as security features

    While intricate designs make Federal Reserve notes visually appealing, some details add complexity and serve as security features. Each Federal Reserve note, for instance, contains a serial number that provides key information about the note. This unique combination of characters appears twice on the front of the note. Additionally, the Treasury Seal can be found across all denominations
  3. The Federal Reserve does not design or print money

    New currency designs are developed by designers at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), and the final design is approved by the Secretary of the Treasury. To learn about the process for designing and printing money, visit the BEP’s feature on “How Money is Made” (Off-site).
  4. The $5 note has the shortest lifespan.

    The lifespan of Federal Reserve notes varies by denomination. The $5 note’s lifespan is only 4.7 years, followed by the $10 note at 5.3 years, and $1 note at 6.6 years. Learn more about lifespan data (Off-site).
  5. The Federal Reserve Banks review the quality of each note

    When currency is deposited with a Federal Reserve Bank, the quality of each note is evaluated by sophisticated processing equipment. Notes that meet strict quality criteria continue to circulate. The 12 Federal Reserve Banks repurpose banknotes not fit for circulation. The banks shred and reuse money that is too worn or dirty for a number of purposes, such as insulation or compost.

Check out these resources to help you learn more about cash:

If you are interested in learning more about cash usage, check out our article recapping the 2022 findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice.