How Many Dollar Bills Are in Circulation?

The US Mint Produces Huge Amounts

Written by Carly Hallman

We make, spend, trade, count, shuffle, and burn a lot of money here in the US. We deal with money every day, but rarely do we contemplate where it comes from. Despite the prevalence and popularity of plastic, there is a huge amount of dollar bills and coins in circulation produced by the US Mint.

How Many Dollar Bills in Circulation

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How Many Dollar Bills Are in Circulation?

Comparing the Value and Volume of U.S. Currency

The Value and Volume of U.S. Paper Currency in Circulation
Paper Currency Denomination Value in Circulation (Billions of Dollars) Number of Bills in Circulation (Billions of Bills)
$1 $11.7 11.7
$2 $2.3 1.2
$5 $14.2 2.8
$10 $19.2 1.9
$20 $177.2 8.9
$50 $83.5 1.7
$100 $1,154.8 11.5
TOTAL $1.463.4 39.8
  • There are eight kinds of paper note above $100: two types of $500 bill, two types of $1000 bill, a $5000 bill, two types of $10,000 bill, and a $100,000 gold certificate. It is illegal for a currency note collector to hold a gold certificate. The remaining notes are still legal tender. They were last printed in 1945 and issued until 1969.
  • More than 70% of the paper notes that the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing delivers each year are used to replace older notes going out of circulation. The Federal Reserve does not publish information about the lifespan of a $2 bill because they circulate so infrequently. Here’s how long other bills might last:
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 years
  • You cannot redeem cash for gold. Neither can you redeem any old “silver certificates” for silver. The U.S. dollar has been “floating” since the conversion of dollars to gold was halted in 1971.
  • The U.S. Treasury reports that the U.S. government gold reserves currently stand at 261.498 million fine troy ounces, or about $11.041 billion. You can see that the amount of paper currency estimated to be in circulation far exceeds this at $1,463.4 billion.

U.S. Coins Produced in 2016

Coin Denomination Number Produced in 2016 (Millions of Coins) Value of Coins Produced in 2016 (Millions of Dollars) Percentage of Total Number of Coins Minted in 2016
Penny 9118.4 91.18 56.92%
Nickel 1546.56 77.33 9.66%
Dime 2954 295.4 18.44%
Quarter 2356.03 589.01 14.71%
Half Dollar 4.2 2.1 0.03%
Presidential Dollar Coin 33.32 33.32 0.21%
Dollar Coin (Other) 4.9 4.9 0.03%
Total 16017.41 1093.24 100%
  • The Federal Reserve processes 20 billion coins, valued at over $2 billion, every year and evaluates them for fitness of circulation. Coins that are unfit for further circulation are melted down and recast.
  • A circulating coin has an estimated lifespan of 30 or more years.
  • The half dollar has been produced every year since the U.S. Mint was created in 1794. They were extremely popular in the first half of the twentieth century. The rising price of silver, the removal of silver from all coins, and the hoarding of the 1964 Kennedy half dollar meant that, for practical reasons, the quarter replaced it as the U.S.’s most popular coin.

Sources:

https://competition.usmint.gov/circulating-coins-production-figures/
https://www.federalreserve.gov/paymentsystems/coin_data.htm
https://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/how-long-is-the-life-span-of-us-paper-money.htm
https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Coins/Pages/edu_faq_coins_production.aspx
http://www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/2014/09/Coin-destruction-rules-at-the-US-Mint-cover-two-categories.all.html#
http://www.moneyfactory.gov/uscurrency/denomsabove100.html
https://www.fiscal.treasury.gov/fsreports/rpt/goldRpt/current_report.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_dollar#Value
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half_dollar_(United_States_coin)

How many dollar bills are in circulation?

There are approximately 11.7 billion one dollar bills in circulation in the US, with 8.9 billion 20 dollar bills and 11.5 billion 100 dollar bills. There are about 39.8 billion notes in circulation all together. For coins, there are about 28 billion in general circulation.

What are some unusual notes in circulation?

Many people ask the question, “Are 500 dollar bills in circulation?” These notes have not been continued since 1969, but may still appear. They are legal tender. The last time the 10,000, 5,000, 1,000, and 500 dollar bill were printed, it was 1945. Among the much cheaper variety is the famous two dollar bill, but it’s still easily found, with about 1.2 million notes in circulation.

What is the largest dollar bill in circulation?

While a legal tender 10,000 dollar bill exists, with the portrait of Salmon P. Chase, there is one much higher: the 100,000 dollar bill. However, that gold certificate was only used and circulated among Federal Reserve Banks during the Great Depression in 1935, so they’re exceedingly rare. It cannot be held by note collectors.

While it wasn’t available to the general public, that note, printed with a picture of Woodrow Wilson, is the largest US bill in circulation. But reasonably, taking into account the availability to the public, the 10,000 dollar bill may be considered to be the actual largest bill in circulation.

What US coins are available?

Design changes are quite frequent, but the penny, dime, nickel, quarter, and dollar coins are the most frequent types of US coins in circulation. In terms of rarest coins, numismatics enthusiasts may debate quite a bit; many times they’re ordinary coins that are badly struck. The least-minted coins in circulation are often different versions of the dollar and half-dollar coins. Historically, there have also been half-cent, two-cent pieces, three-cent pieces, half-dimes, and others. The US Mint produces many other types of commemorative coins, proof sets, and medals that can sometimes be one-of-a-kind or exceedingly rare as well.

How long does a dollar bill typically last?

All US currency has a life cycle; new notes are made to replace old ones and the old ones are destroyed. Coins last typically around three decades, whereas bills need to be replaced with frequency, depending on the type of note. A 10 dollar bill is replaced every 4.5 years, whereas a 100 dollar bill is replaced every 15 years. Complicated machines check bills for dog tears and graphiti, and if the notes are not up to their standards, they’re shredded.

What if you have a bad bill that’s practically unusable? Is it illegal to burn money? As it turns out, you can get a 100 dollar fine or up to six months in prison for burning money.

How has the value of the dollar changed?

Once upon a time, the gold/dollar value wasn’t so mysterious, and you can redeem your cash for gold or silver certificates for silver. The US dollar and coin are considered to be floating money. But don’t worry. The federal government has about $11 billion in gold reserve


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