Lifespan of US Dollar Bills – From Ones to Hundreds

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Ever wondered what’s the estimated lifespan of a U.S dollar before it gets destroyed? Where do these worn-out dollars end up?

Are these thrown out in the trashcan or what? And who’s the mastermind behind these procedures?

Read more to find out! First, let’s start with the average lifespan of each bill.

Estimated Lifespan of the US Paper Currency

What Is The Average Lifespan of a $1 bill?

The $1 dollar bill has an average lifespan of 5.8 years.

What Is The Average Life Of A $5 Bill?

The $5 bill has an average lifespan of 5.5 years.

What Is The Average Life Of A $10 Bill?

The $10 bill has an average lifespan of 4.5 years.

What Is The Average Life Of A $20 Bill?

The $20 bill has an average lifespan of 7.9 years.

What Is The Average Life Of A $50 Bill?

The $50 bill has an average lifespan of 8.5 years.

What Is The Average Life Of A $100 Bill?

The $100 bill has an average lifespan of 15.0 years.

The Lifecycle of a U.S Note

Alright, so we know how long each bill lasts. Now let’s trace the life of a U.S Note, starting from the moment it’s printed till its death.  Where do they begin life, and what happens when they reach the end of the line?

Where Are U.S Notes Printed?

They’re printed in the U.S Treasury Department; it’s responsible for multiple tasks and roles including tax collection and printing currency.

So, the dollar in your pocket came to life in the Treasury department. It’s then passed down through numerous circulations till it reaches your hands.

One day, you decided you’d like a treat at Starbucks, so you passed your currency note and now it’s gone. This currency note will keep on circulating and it may actually return to you, or not, depending on sheer coincidence.

The currency note will continue its cycle of life, passing by folks who write phone numbers on them that you probably shouldn’t call, to filthy rich people wiping their tears with it.

In short, it gets totally beat up, that poor paper currency note.

Where Do Battered Notes Go?

Dollars then stop by the U.S Federal Reserve Bank, which is the central banking system of America.

One of its wide array of tasks is to assess the quality of the note through complex procedures and machines, which determine if that note is ready for yet another circulation, or not.

If it can’t take anymore, it’s simply destroyed, and a new one is printed out instead, but of course, we’re talking about huge numbers here, not one or two currency notes.

Final Thoughts On US Currency Lifespan

It’d make sense that a $100 bill would last much longer than a $5 bill, for instance.

Why’s that? Well, in your usual day-to-day transactions, you don’t depend heavily on a $100 bill. It’s mostly lower currency denominations as $5 and $10 currencies.  Especially the $10, which has the lowest lifespan of the bills we’ve covered.

On the other hand, the currency note with the highest lifespan is the $100 note. It’s the least handled by the majority of the population, which explains its lengthy lifespan.

As we wrap up, you can get a summary of the lifespan of US currency in the table below.

Currency Denomination Lifespan
$1 5.8 years
$5 5.5 years
$10 4.5 years
$20 7.9 years
$50 8.5 years
$100 15.0 years

 

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GP

Hi, I'm GP. A personal finance expert with a mission to help Entirely Money readers break free of money worries. Combining a finance-focused education background (B.S. in Finance and MBA with Finance focus) with over 15 years of personal and corporate finance experience to help you achieve your financial best life!