Pull any bill out of your wallet. See the dark green numbers on the top-left and top-right corners? They could mean your bill is worth much more than its face value.
If a serial number’s digits are unique or interesting, collectors might be willing to pay big bucks — hundreds or even thousands of dollars — for your bill. You’ll make the most profit off a $1 bill with a fancy serial number, since its face value is lower than, say, a $20 bill, but it’s worth scrutinizing all your cash. Who knows what your $100 bill could actually be worth?
Knowing what your paper money might be worth is all in the serial number.
What Are Serial Numbers?
Serial numbers are eight-digit-long codes that are unique to each bill. They are accompanied by other identifying letters and numbers that tell us which series year the bill is from and where it was printed. They are found on the front of U.S. currency and are always printed twice.
On bills worth $5 and up, each serial number begins with a letter, which tells us the series year of the bill. The years are represented by letters A-P as follows:
J: 2009(Video) WHAT DOLLAR BILLS SHOULD YOU KEEP? RARE SERIAL NUMBERS ON PAPER MONEY!!
The series year is also printed separately on the currency, in between the portrait of the historical figure (such as Lincoln on the $5 bill) and the Secretary of the Treasury’s signature in the bottom right part of the bill. You can check on a bill you have at home to see how these match up.
On dollar bills (and $2 bills), the series year only appears in the bottom right quadrant.
U.S. Federal Reserve Bank Identifier
Additionally, each serial number has a letter and number that shows us where the currency was printed. The U.S. Federal Reserve has 12 banks, and each bank has a letter and number combination associated with it. The identifiers are as follows:
B2: New York City
H8: St. Louis
J10: Kansas City
K11: Dallas(Video) IF YOU HAVE A DOLLAR BILL LOOK FOR THESE VALUABLE ERRORS ON YOUR PAPER MONEY!!
L12: San Francisco
On $5 bills and up, the bank identifier appears separately from the serial number, though the letter also appears next to the series year letter before the actual serial number.
On $1 and $2 bills, the letter preceding the serial number will match the bank where the bill was printed (such as K for Dallas) and the number portion of this identifier appears separately on the currency.
Categories of U.S. Paper Money
There are several different categories of paper currency in the U.S., and some are more collectable than others.
Silver Certificates are bills issued between 1878 and 1964 in denominations ranging from $1 to $1,000. They are typically worth between $2-$20 for $1 bills, $10-$12 for $5 bills, and $30-$5,000 for $10 bills — all depending on the year of issue
Gold Certificates are bills issued between 1863 and 1933 in denominations ranging from $10 to $10,000. Worn bills could be worth $100 or more for $20 bills, $250 or more for $50 bills, $1,000 or more for $100 bills, $2,500 or more for $500 bills, and $2,000 or more for $1,000 bills.
Confederate Issues are bills issued during the Civil War (1861-1865). They are typically not sought by collectors.
Federal Reserve Notes are bills issued between 1914 and the present in denominations ranging from $1 to $10,000. The worth of a modern bill depends on its serial number and how unusual it is. Collectors look for several different types of fancy serial numbers that stand out from the crowd.
15 Types of Valuable Serial Numbers
Want to see if your paper currency is worth way more than $1 or $5? Here’s what to look for.
1. Low Serial Number
Collectors love bills with low serial numbers, such as those below 1,000 or 100 (eg. 00000100). On eBay, these kinds of bills can sell for anywhere from $20 to $100.
The lower the serial number, the more valuable the currency is considered to be; a bill with the serial number 00000001 could be worth $15,000, according to SavingAdvice.com.
2. High Number
People also enjoy collecting currency with high numbers, and these can be even more valuable than lower numbers since there are fewer in circulation. Bills marked with 99999900 and higher are especially prized.
A flipper is a note whose number can be read right side up or upside down. Such as, 0069000. On eBay, flippers cost a few bucks up to several hundred dollars.
4. Star Notes
Some bills have a star instead of a letter at the end of their serial number. Known as star notes, these bills are replacements issued when the original bill had a printing error. Because it’s against policy to produce a dollar’s serial number more than once, the mint simply adds a star to the end.
These printing errors aren’t common, so there aren’t many star notes in circulation. You’ll see $1 star notes on eBay for $5 and up.
5. Repeaters and Super Repeaters
Blocks of repeating digits (such as 27527527) are sought after, with $1 repeaters starting around $3 or $4 on eBay.
A two-digit repeating number, like 45454545, is called a super repeater and is even more valuable. Some eBay listings start at a few hundred dollars.
6. Solids and Near Solids
A solid serial number is one where every digit is the same, like 55555555.
Only about one out of every 11 million notes is a solid, and they can be worth $500 or more.
Since these notes are so rare, people also collect near-solids, where only one digit differs, like 55555575. These will usually bring in less money than a solid, but you’re more likely to find one.
7. Binary Bills
Binary bills have serial numbers with only two numbers, such as 29299299. A near solid would count as one of these binary notes, since it only includes two numbers. On eBay, some binary notes can go for $900.
8. Trinary Bills
Because of the rarity of binary bills, some collectors even ask for trinary notes, which contain three unique digits in various combinations (e.g. 29329939).
When the serial number ascends (e.g. 12345678) or descends (e.g. 8765431) in order, collectors call it a ladder. You’ll also find “near ladders,” where one or two digits break up the ladder.
Ladder notes sell for anywhere from $9 on eBay to as much as $7,000..
Some collectors want notes with a specific year or date in the serial number, perhaps a famous date or one meaningful to them. For example, 02162006 might be valuable to a collector whose child was born Feb. 16, 2006.
A serial number that just includes the year is also desirable, such as 10901985 or 10002010.
11. Radars and Super Radars
A radar serial number reads the same backwards and forwards, like a palindrome. For example, 06288260. A good condition, uncirculated $1 radar could sell for about $25.
If only the end two digits are different (like 27777772), you’ve got a super radar, which is much more rare and valuable. Even a $1 bill with this type of serial number can sell for $70 and up on eBay.
When you have two or more separate notes with consecutive serial numbers, like 25348793 and 25348794, you have one of these series. They’re not uncommon, since you can get consecutive bills at any bank, but can be valuable if they also fit into another category on this list.
Doubles occur when a serial number includes pairs of numbers, such as 24459387. The most valuable type is called a quad double, when a serial number has four sets of doubles (e.g. 55998833).
14. Double Quads
While technically they’re a version of a quad double, notes whose serial numbers consist of two sets of four of the same number are called double quads. (Confusing, isn’t it?)
For example, 77776666 is a double quad. These bills are rarer and more valuable.
When the serial number has the same two or three digits on both ends, it’s called a bookend. Three-number bookends, like 36584365, are more valuable than two-digit bookends, like 36829736. Prices start around $8 for a $1 bookend on eBay.
How to Look Up Serial Numbers
If you think you might have possession of a bill that’s worth more than its face value, you can go online to look up the serial number.
To test it out, I looked up the number on a $5 bill I had in my wallet at MyCurrencyCollection.com. Once you type in the bill’s eight-digit number, it’ll assign it a percentage on the “Coolness Index.” This index is created by CoolNumbers.com using a formula that evaluates numbers according to its “interesting properties.”
Our $5 bill was 89.9% cool, or “almost cool,” according to the website. Here are some facts we found out about the note that made it almost (but not quite) cool:
It had a 4-of-a-kind and 1 pair, which only 2.6% of bills reportedly have.
The bill’s digits had a sum of 48, and 8% of eight-digit serial numbers sum to at least 48.(Video) Fancy Serial Numbers on Dollar Bills that are WORTH A LOT of Money!
It had four unique digits, and 9.3% of eight-digit serial numbers have four or fewer digits.
It contained two pairs together, which is true for only 10% of serial numbers on paper money.
Unfortunately, “almost cool” is not enough to push the value of the $5 up, so we won’t be making any extra money on this one. And sadly, the dollar bill was ranked as solidly “uncool” with just 18.5% on the Coolness Index.
However, checking online to see if your money is cool (or uncool) doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to sell it for more than face value. While you can list your paper money for as much or as little as you want, it’s worth depends on what people are willing to pay for it.
Where to Sell Your Paper Money
If you do find yourself the owner of a unique bank note, there are several places you can cash it in.
The easiest option is to list your note on eBay. Do a search to see what similar notes are listed for, and list yours in the same ballpark. You don’t want to list too low and wonder if you could have made more; nor do you want to list it too high and risk it not selling at all.
If you don’t want to deal with eBay, you can search locally to see if there are any paper money dealers in your area. If there are, you can take your bank notes to them for an appraisal and they will either offer to purchase the note from you or direct you to someone who may be interested.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about your paper money and what it might be worth? These frequently asked questions should help.
Which Dollar Bill Serial Numbers are Worth Money?
Generally, the more unique the serial number on your dollar bill, the more likely it is to be worth more than face value. Some examples of uniqueness include repeating numbers, numbers with a star after them and sequences (such as 12345678). You can see a full list of potentially valuable serial number types in the “15 Types of Valuable Serial Numbers” section above.
How Do I Know if My Dollar Bill is Worth Money?
To know whether your dollar bill could be worth more than just $1, you need to examine the serial number. This is an eight-digit number that is printed twice on all paper money, and it has one or two letters as a prefix, depending on the denomination. If the number is unique or has a star after it, it could be valuable. See “15 Types of Valuable Serial Numbers” and “How to Look Up Serial Numbers” above.
How Do You Check Serial Numbers on Money?
You can check your serial numbers online to get an idea of whether they might be worth more than face value. See the “How to Look Up Serial Numbers” section above.
What is the Value of Paper Money?
Paper money is usually worth the exact amount listed on the face (for example, $1, $5 or $10). However, some bills have unique serial numbers that make them desirable to collectors, and therefore sell for more than their face value. See “15 Types of Valuable Serial Numbers” to learn more about the types of unique numbers that are valuable to collectors.
Maryan Akinboyeway and Catherine Hiles are contributors to The Penny Hoarder. Senior staff writer Robert Bruce also contributed.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
How do I know if my paper money is worth anything? ›
- Star Notes. ...
- Errors. ...
- Low and High Serial Numbers. ...
- Repeaters, Ladders and Other Patterns. ...
- Flippers and Radars. ...
- Binary Numbers. ...
- Serial Numbers that Reflect a Specific Date. ...
- Consecutive Serial Numbers.
- The Series date located near the photograph of George Washington must read “Series 2013”
- The bill must have a “B” Federal Reserve Seal above the serial number.
- The serial number must end with a star (*) and fall between B00000001* – B00250000* or B03200001*-B09600000*
Called "ladder bills," the most sought-after examples are bills that feature the so-called "perfect" ladder serial numbers: 12345678 and 87654321. Unsurprisingly, these notes are exceedingly scarce and represent only one-in-96-million bills printed, meaning they can sell for big bucks.What paper money is worth money? ›
The $10 and $20 notes are typically worth from twice face value to $100 or more depending on condition, while the $50 and $100 notes are more valuable. $500 and $1,000 Gold Certificates are scarce and we recommend consultation with one of our currency experts if you possess one of these notes.How do I sell old paper money? ›
Olx and eBay are two of the most trusted platforms to sell and/or buy old currency notes and coins. All you have to do is make an account on either of these platforms. If you already have an account, all you need to do is log into your account. After you have signed up/logged in, you need to create an online listing.How much is a dollar bill with a star in the serial number worth? ›
One dollar. A star note is simply a replacement note for a note that was found to be defective during the printing process.What is the most valuable 1 dollar bill? ›
A little extra cash always comes in handy and some lucky people could be sitting on a small fortune without even realizing it. Coin and currency collectors in North America are willing to pay up to $150,000 for a rare $1 bill which features a printing error.How do I find the value of old money? ›
Search through the sold listings and try to find a bill that has the same characteristics as your old money — condition, errors, etc. Use the sold value of similar items to assess the value of your old note or bill. These steps provide the quickest way for you to determine the value of your old money.How much is a 1957 dollar bill worth? ›
Most 1957 silver certificate dollar bills cost $1.25 to $1.50, or a bit more than their face values. However, their price depends on the serial number and each banknote condition, so those in higher rates and with low or usual serial numbers can be worth $3 to $12,50.What are fancy serial numbers on paper money? ›
High Serial Numbers
Serial numbers that start with four or more nines are fancy: meaning 99990000 - 99999999. The higher, the better. All notes are printed starting with serial number 1, but recently notes have NOT been printed to 99999999.
Can paper money lose value? ›
Because fiat money is not linked to physical reserves, it risks losing value due to inflation or even becoming worthless in the event of hyperinflation. When people lose faith in a nation's currency, the money will no longer be of any value.Are older $100 bills worth more? ›
Miscuts/Errors — Any misprints or errors made during the printing process can make a bill rare and valuable. Age — Older bills are rarer and thus hold more value.Do pawn shops buy old paper money? ›
Most pawn shops will also accept collectible coins and currency, such as silver dollars, half dollars, American eagles, rare paper money, and more.Will banks take old paper money? ›
Banks that allow you to exchange paper notes will generally allow you to deposit the money into the account that you hold with them. Banks and building societies happy to exchange the old notes include Halifax, Lloyds, Nationwide, Barclays and HSBC - though keep in mind they may have a cut-off date.Is collecting paper money a good investment? ›
Reasons to Invest in Rare Paper Money. Over the past 30 years, paper money collections have produced substantial long-term profits for their owners, often as good or better than coin investments. In part this is due to the scarcity of many paper money issues and increasing interest amongst numismatic collectors.Are $2 bills worth money? ›
It's a common misconception that $2 bills are particularly rare or valuable. This has led many people to hoard them and, as a result, there are large numbers of $2 bills in good condition that aren't being circulated. However, the vast majority of $2 bills are worth exactly that: two dollars.Are bills with consecutive serial numbers worth more? ›
They're worth the sum total of their printed value. No more, no less. They're often delivered brand new to cash dispenser machines and to businesses and banks in newly-printed packages which might only have sequential numbering. It's totally normal and so there is nothing unusual or valuable about it.Is a $2 bill with a star worth anything? ›
In most cases, there is no such thing as an expensive 1963 $2 bill. These banknotes are abundant and worth about $20. Only pieces with a star in the serial number can be more valuable, and you can count on about $40 to $90 for them, depending on the note type.Are $500.00 bills still in circulation? ›
High-denomination bills, which include the $500 bill, were officially discontinued by the Federal Reserve System in July of 1969 when it began to take the bills out of circulation. That being said, these bills are still legal tender.What coins are worth a lot of money? ›
What American coins are the most valuable? The 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is the most valuable American coin at $20,165,100. The second-place spot goes to 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar worth $13,280,850. And third place goes to the 1787 Brasher Doubloon at $9,986,500.
What is the oldest 1 dollar bill? ›
The first $1 notes (called United States Notes or "Legal Tenders") were issued by the federal government in 1862 and featured a portrait of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase (1861-1864). The first use of George Washington's portrait on the $1 note was on Series 1869 United States Notes.Is older paper money worth anything? ›
Paper bills, or “fiat” money, also have no intrinsic value; their worth is determined solely through supply and demand, and they are declared legal tender by government decree.Was there ever a $3 bill in the United States? ›
Though a gold three-dollar coin was produced in the 1800s, no three-dollar bill has ever been produced. Various fake US$3 bills have also been released over time. These generally poke fun at politicians or celebrities such as Richard Nixon, Michael Jackson, George W.What is the largest bill in US history? ›
The largest note ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the $100,000 Gold Certificate, Series 1934.What is the most forged bill? ›
The $20 bill is the most commonly counterfeited banknote in the U.S., while overseas counterfeiters are more likely to make fake $100 bills.Is a silver certificate $1 bill worth anything? ›
How Much Is a $1 Silver Certificate Worth? That depends on the type of $1 silver certificate. For instance, a Series 1896 $1 Silver Certificate Educational note in good condition is worth more than $500 while a $1 Black Eagle Silver Banknote Certificate in the same condition can fetch just above $110.Are silver dollar bills worth anything? ›
The silver certificate on a paper currency represents that in the past, it was redeemable in silver. Although these silver certificate dollar bills are only worth their denomination value, in some cases, collectors buy them for more money because of the rare value.What is a Red Seal dollar worth? ›
Star notes have a serial number that has a red star by the serial number. In circulated conditions 1953 red seal are worth about $12. The Uncirculated 1953 five dollar red seal star notes are worth up to $100. The red seal appears on United States Notes issued from from 1862 to 1971.What is considered a high serial number? ›
The definition of a high serial number is a note that has a number of 9999 0000 or higher. These are the last notes printed in any run of notes, and are less often talked about because modern runs never reach that amount. You will most likely find these high serial numbers on silver certificates or older notes.What are unmarked dollars? ›
Noun. small, unmarked bills pl (plural only) (set phrase) Paper currency which consists of small-denomination banknotes that have not been inscribed with hidden markings which would help authorities identify and trace them.
What does a red serial number on money mean? ›
United States Notes. Congress authorizes a new class of currency, known as “United States notes,” or “Legal Tender notes.” These notes are characterized by a red seal and serial number. They continue to circulate until 1971.Why we should keep paper money? ›
Paper currency facilitates making transactions anonymous, helping conceal activities from the government in a way that might help agents avoid laws, regulations, and taxes.Why should we not get rid of paper money? ›
Unfortunately, eliminating cash will likely do little to reduce crime as there are multiple ways to circumvent the need for cash, and even worse, cutting off cash may just lead criminal organizations to innovate and use pre-paid gift cards, digital currency, or bank checks to elude law enforcement.Why is money worth less if you print more? ›
To get richer, a country has to make and sell more things – whether goods or services. This makes it safe to print more money, so that people can buy those extra things. If a country prints more money without making more things, then prices just go up.
All U.S. currency remains legal tender, regardless of when it was issued.Is my old $100 bill worth anything? ›
Vintage $100 bills are still legal tender and can be used for purchases, however most merchants will not accept them because they'll think it's counterfeit. It's best to sell or trade them with a collector.What old money is worth the most? ›
1. The 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. The 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar may sit atop the rankings of the most expensive coin ever sold, at least for now. Some experts believe that it was the first silver dollar struck by the U.S. Mint.How do you determine the value of old money? ›
Search through the sold listings and try to find a bill that has the same characteristics as your old money — condition, errors, etc. Use the sold value of similar items to assess the value of your old note or bill. These steps provide the quickest way for you to determine the value of your old money.Are $2 bills worth anything? ›
It's a common misconception that $2 bills are particularly rare or valuable. This has led many people to hoard them and, as a result, there are large numbers of $2 bills in good condition that aren't being circulated. However, the vast majority of $2 bills are worth exactly that: two dollars.