skip to main navigation skip to secondary navigation skip to content
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
skip to content

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 Because the $2 note does not widely circulate, we do not publish its estimated life span.


Related Questions

Last update: March 16, 2015