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 Because the $2 note does not widely circulate, we do not publish its estimated life span.