$500, $1,000, $100,000: Big Bills Of A Bygone Era | Bankrate (2024)

Most of us hope for big balances in our checking and savings accounts, but when you withdraw funds, the biggest bill you’ll see today is probably $100.

Once upon a time, though, $500, $1,000, $5,000, $10,000 and $100,000 bills were in circulation. After the last printing of those denominations in 1945, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve discontinued them in 1969.

The use of large bills in the 21st Century has decreased dramatically, and they’ve been greater targets for counterfeits versus smaller denominations. They’re still legitimate legal tender but are in limited circulation, except for the $100,000 bill, which was only ever used in fiscal channels.

These days, most of these increasingly rare bills are owned by collectors. In fact, if you happen to have a mint-condition bill in a rare denomination, it could mean a big payoff. According to Old Money Prices, a paper currency collector, a $1,000 bill printed in 1928 with a gold seal could be worth over $20,000, if in uncirculated condition.

Here are some rare bills you might want to keep an eye out for.

$500 Series 1918 Blue Seal

$500, $1,000, $100,000: Big Bills Of A Bygone Era | Bankrate (1)

Produced in 1918, $500 bill’s front bears the likeness of John Marshall, who served as the United States’ fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835. The reverse side of the bill depicts Spanish conquistador Hernando De Soto discovering the Mississippi in 1541.

$500 Series 1928 & 1934 Green Seal

$500, $1,000, $100,000: Big Bills Of A Bygone Era | Bankrate (2)

These green seal notes ($500 bills with the green seal are often called Federal Reserve notes) bear the portrait of William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States. He served a full term and then only six months of his second term before being assassinated.

$1,000 Series 1918 Blue Seal

$500, $1,000, $100,000: Big Bills Of A Bygone Era | Bankrate (3)

This bill, printed in 1918, has Founding Father Alexander Hamilton’s face on the front and a soaring eagle on the back. It’s fitting that Hamilton found his way onto some U.S. currency, since, among his other accomplishments, he’s credited with founding the country’s financial system.

$1,000 Series 1928 Green Seal

$500, $1,000, $100,000: Big Bills Of A Bygone Era | Bankrate (4)

Printed in 1928, this $1,000 bill features two-time United States President Grover Cleveland. He was the nation’s 22nd and 24th president, earning him the distinction of being the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms.

$5,000 Series 1918 Blue Seal

$500, $1,000, $100,000: Big Bills Of A Bygone Era | Bankrate (5)

This 1918-printed $5,000 bill bears the likeness of Founding Father James Madison (often christened the “Father of the Constitution”), who went on to serve as the fourth President of the United States. The back of the bill shows then-General George Washington resigning his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army on December 23, 1783.

$10,000 Series 1918 Blue Seal

$500, $1,000, $100,000: Big Bills Of A Bygone Era | Bankrate (6)

Just as this $10,000 bill, produced in 1918, is rare, the likeness on the front might be unfamiliar. It shows Salmon P. Chase, who served as President Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury from 1861 to 1864. The back of the bill shows the embarkation of the Pilgrims as they sailed for freedom in North America.

$10,000 Series 1928, 1934, 1934A & 1934B Green Seal

$500, $1,000, $100,000: Big Bills Of A Bygone Era | Bankrate (7)

Like the previous $10,000 bill, these bills produced in 1928 and 1934 also bear the likeness of Salmon P. Chase on the front. However, the back of the bill simply says, “The United States of America — Ten Thousand Dollars — 10,000.”

$100,000 Series 1934 Gold Certificate

$500, $1,000, $100,000: Big Bills Of A Bygone Era | Bankrate (8)

Though it might be nice to have a bill of this high denomination, the Bureau of Engraving & Printing, a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, states, “The $100,000 Gold Certificate was used only for official transactions between Federal Reserve Banks and was not circulated among the general public. This note cannot be legally held by currency note collectors.” The front has a portrait of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States.

How to sell old currency

If you happen to be in possession of one of these rare big bills — or another type of currency that’s no longer in circulation — they could be worth much more than their face value. The collectible value is known as the premium, and that premium varies depending on the year of print, color, condition and serial number.

You’ll first want to evaluate the currency’s worth by noting the features that influence its premium. That information will be necessary to get an estimated value from a collector. You can also search by serial number on banknoteserialchecker.com to get an estimated value.

There are a few ways to connect with potential buyers of rare currency. One option is to auction your currency through a traditional auction house, such as Heritage Auctions, or through an online marketplace, such as eBay.

Another helpful resource is the American Numismatic Association (ANA). The ANA’s site includes information about exhibits and conventions where you can potentially sell your old currency as well as a directory feature that connects dealers and collectors.

Bottom line

The large denominations that once existed, ranging from $500 to a staggering $100,000, were taken out of general circulation due to minimal usage in 1969. While you might not see them often, they still exist, largely as collectibles.

If you happen to find such a relic, it’s worth taking the time to understand the rare bill’s value and consider its potential as an investment piece.

— Bankrate’s René Bennett contributed to an update of this story.

$500, $1,000, $100,000: Big Bills Of A Bygone Era | Bankrate (2024)


What year did they stop distributing the $500 $1000 $5000 and the $10000 bill? ›

On July 14, 1969, the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System announced that currency notes in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 would be discontinued immediately due to lack of use. Although they were issued until 1969, they were last printed in 1945.

How many $100000 bills are in existence? ›

There were 40,000 $100K notes printed way back in 1934. They were used only for gold transactions between the U.S Treasury and the twelve Federal Reserve Banks. They were never released into general circulation. There are only twelve $100,000 bills in existence today.

Do 500 and 1000 bills exist? ›

The United States no longer issues bills in larger denominations, such as $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 bills. But they are still legal tender and may still be in circulation. The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing creates U.S. paper currency. Learn about paper money and how to recognize counterfeit currency.

What president is on the $500 bill? ›

$500 Federal Reserve Notes

The Federal Reserve Board issues $500 bills that feature President William McKinley's portrait. These circulate for roughly two decades and remains legal tender.

Are Red Seal notes worth anything? ›

If your $2 bill dates back to 1886 and has a red seal with a silver certificate, you're in luck. That bill is worth $4,500. A number of other iterations of the $2 bills with a red seal can also fetch well over a $1,000.

Are $2 dollar bills rare? ›

However, $2 bills are considered rare in comparison to our other currency and have even been known to be worth thousands of dollars. There are a number of factors that can make your $2 worth more than $2. First, there are one of two Founding Fathers that may appear on it: Alexander Hamilton or Thomas Jefferson.

Is it illegal to own a $100 000 dollar bill? ›

The $100,000 bill is the highest denomination ever issued by the U.S. Federal Government. Printed in 1934, it was not intended for general use, but instead was used as an accounting device between branches of the Federal Reserve. It is illegal for a private individual to own this banknote.

Why is the $100,000 bill illegal? ›

The $100,000 Gold Certificate was used only for official transactions between Federal Reserve Banks and was not circulated among the general public. This note cannot be legally held by currency note collectors.

Are $2 bills still made? ›

While the note is less common, $2 bills are still being printed (108.3 million entered circulation in 2022) and count as legal tender. You can even pick them up at a bank, though it'll likely only feature the design that took to the presses in 1976.

How much is a $2 bill worth? ›

Unless it has a unique feature, like a low serial number or misprint, a newer $2 bill likely isn't worth much more than $2, even if it's uncirculated.

Do $200 bills exist? ›

Keep in mind that the U.S. has never produced a $200 bill. Also - living presidents are never depicted on currency.

Where can I get $2 dollar bills near me? ›

  • There are a few places where you can buy two dollar bills.
  • You can go to your local bank and ask for them, or you can go to the US Mint's website and order them directly from there.
  • You can also find them on eBay or other online auction sites.
Jul 20, 2021

What does a real million dollar bill look like? ›

No, there is no official million-dollar bill in circulation, nor has one ever been commissioned by the Federal Reserve. While some novelty items or fake bills may feature a picture of a million-dollar bill, they hold no value and cannot be used as legal tender.

Can you get a $1000 dollar bill from the bank? ›

No. $500 and $1,000 bills are no longer available within the U.S. banking system. The limited supply of these bills is currently held by coins and currency dealers, collectors, and investors.

Is it legal to own a $500 bill? ›

The $500 bill remains legal tender but most of them are in the hands of dealers and collectors. That being said, should you come into possession of a $500 bill, you'd find that its market value far exceeds its face value. You can find $500 bills listed on eBay.com starting at twice their face value.

When was the $10,000 dollar bill discontinued? ›

After the last printing of those denominations in 1945, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve discontinued them in 1969. The use of large bills in the 21st Century has decreased dramatically, and they've been greater targets for counterfeits versus smaller denominations.

When was the $1,000 bill retired? ›

Along with its smaller cousin, the $500 bill, the $1,000 bill was discontinued in 1969.4 And like the $500 bill, the $1,000 bill would seem to be more useful now than it would have been then. So, we've lost larger denomination bills as the value of a dollar has gotten progressively smaller.

When did 500 dollar bill stop circulating? ›

A few versions of the $500 bill were printed over the years and was last printed in 1945. Featuring a portrait of President William McKinley on the front, this bill was officially discontinued in 1969, along with other high-denomination bills, making it scarce.

Did they stop making the $1000 dollar bill? ›

Is the 1,000 dollar bill still considered legal tender? You might be surprised to learn that yes, it is! The Federal Reserve may have stopped printing them back in 1945 and officially discontinued them in 1969, but if you happen to stumble upon one of these bills, rest assured it's still considered legal tender.

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