A new $100 bill, the world’s most popular banknote, starts circulating today

His public awaits.
His public awaits.
Image: AP Photo / LM Otero
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If there was ever a backdrop for a heist film, the last few weeks would have been it. In preparation for the launch of the new $100 bill, pallets of millions of dollars worth of bank notes emblazoned with Ben Franklin’s visage arrived in US Federal Reserve banks across the country. The new C-note is chock-a-block with fancy security features, including:

  • A blue “security ribbon” with images that look like they’re moving when the note is tilted
  • An image of a copper inkwell, with a holographic Liberty Bell inside that turns green when tilted

Here’s what it looks like.


Of course, its unclear how long these high-tech banknotes will stay in the country. As we’ve told you before, the working theory is that a large chunk of US $100 bills finds its way outside of the US. (Though, incredibly, there are few good answers about exactly how much.) And the growth of foreign holdings of $100 bills is one of the main reasons that the share of US currency outstanding denominated in $100 remains near 80%. It was 76.6% at the end of 2012, up from 75.5% in 2011, according to the Federal Reserve. The $100 bill is the world’s most popular bank note.


So when will you see one? It’s really up to the banks. The notes started circulating today. And that basically means that banks who put in new orders for paper currency to the Federal Reserve will start getting the new bills today. But it’s up to the banks to dole them out over time. So it could take awhile before they start appearing more broadly in circulation.

Oh, and it might pay to take a look at the serial numbers on the bills when you finally do get them. Currency collectors prize bills with so-called fancy numbers. (Those are especially low serial numbers or other strings of digits that are particularly distinctive.) The fanciest of them all would be the redesigned $100 note with the serial number 00000001. That could be worth as much as $15,000, according to the Boston Globe.