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Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
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Current FAQs
Informing the public about the Federal Reserve

How long is the lifespan 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, that are still in good condition--continue to circulate, while those that do not are taken out of circulation and destroyed. This process determines the lifespan of a Federal Reserve note.

The lifespan of Federal Reserve notes varies by denomination and depends on a number of factors, including how the denomination is used by the public. For example, larger denominations such as $100 notes are often used as a store of value, which means they pass between users less frequently than lower-denominations such as $5 notes, which are more often used for transactions.

Denomination Estimated Lifespan*
$1 5.8 years
$5 5.5 years
$10 4.5 years
$20 7.9 years
$50 8.5 years
$100** 15.0 years

*Estimated lifespans as of December 2013. Because the $2 note does not widely circulate, we do not publish its estimated lifespan.

**Estimated lifespan as of December 2012. Because the Federal Reserve issued a redesigned $100 note in October 2013, we do not have sufficient data to provide an estimated note life for 2013.

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Last update: October 6, 2015