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The Lifespan of A Dollar Bill

Where Has That Dollar Bill Been?

Ever thought about the spare that dollar bill before you pass it through the drive-up window at your local Starbuck’s?

If you’re like most people, probably not much.

But consider this: that dollar bill might have traveled the world. Other unlucky bills may have never left your hometown.

Some bills are marked with ballpoint graffiti; with poor old George Washington have a new pair of glasses. Your dollar bill may even have a phone number printed on its backside. It’s probably best not to call it.

While dollar bills get around, they don’t live long.

The Brief Life of a Dollar Bill

The average dollar bill has an estimated lifespan of 5.9 years, according to the Federal Reserve.

Dollar bills get roughed-up a lot by cashiers, beaten on doughnut counters, exposed to misbehaved children at supermarkets and run-over by your car. Yet dollar bills do not have a shorter lifespan than do other types of paper currency.

The $5 bill has a lifespan of 4.9 years while the $10 comes in at 4.2 years. However, the $20 gets 7.7 years while $50’s are only around for a short 3.7 years. And the rare $100? 15 years.

The $2 What?

The plight – and short lifespan – of the $1 dollar bill is nothing compared to the indignity suffered by its slightly more valuable stepsister, the $2 bill.

If you think that the U.S. Treasury no longer prints the $2 bill, you would be mistaken. This bill has not been removed from circulation, although the print volume for them is low.

Although the $2 bill never gained popularity, some people collect them anyway, believing they will be worth more than $2 one day. For the record, however, these bills will never be worth more than $2 – and there is no good reason to collect them.

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Lifespan of a Dollar Bill Infographic

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