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Current FAQs
Informing the public about the Federal Reserve

How long is the life span of U.S. paper money?

When currency is deposited with a Federal Reserve Bank, the quality of each note is evaluated by sophisticated processing equipment. Notes that meet our strict quality criteria--that is, they are still in good condition--continue to circulate, while those that do not are taken out of circulation and destroyed. This process determines the life span of a Federal Reserve note.

Life span varies by denomination. One factor that influences the life span of each denomination is how the denomination is used by the public. For example, $100 notes are often used as a store of value. This means that they pass between users less frequently than lower denominations that are more often used for transactions, such as $5 notes. Thus, $100 notes typically last longer than $5 notes.

Denomination Estimated Life Span*
$1 5.9 years
$5 4.9 years
$10 4.2 years
$20 7.7 years
$50 3.7 years
$100 15.0 years

* Estimated life spans as of December 2012. Because the $2 note does not widely circulate, we do not publish its estimated life span.

 

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Last update: July 10, 2014