Remember $2 dollar bills? First introduced in the 19th century and featuring a portrait of Thomas Jefferson, these bills have long been considered oddities, due to the fact that they’re far less common than $1 or $5 bills, and aren’t available from your average ATM. Given their apparent rarity, you might find yourself asking “How much are two dollar bills worth, anyway?”
Why two dollar bills are so rare
You’ll probably be surprised to learn that although $2 bills are indeed rare, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing still produces these bills on a regular basis. According to CNN, in 2022 the Bureau printed over 200 million of these bills, and over 1 billion of them are in circulation. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, when compared to other bills, $2 bills account for just 0.001% of the value of the $2 trillion worth of currency in circulation. CNN reports that unlike with other bills, the Bureau doesn’t have to request new $2 bills annually. Because the bills are used infrequently and therefore circulate for a longer time, they’re only ordered every few years.
How much are two dollar bills worth?
Just because $2 bills are less commonly used doesn’t automatically make them worth a whole lot. For example, you might have held onto one of the beautiful $2 bills issued in 1976 for the US Bicentennial celebrations. These bills featured an image of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the back, instead of the image of Monticello, Jefferson’s Virginia estate, that had been used previously.
While many folks hoarded the bicentennial $2 bills as collectors’ items, the experts at Professional Coin Grading Services (PCGS) explain those are almost always just worth their face value — with a couple of rare exceptions, like printing errors that make them more unique or uncirculated quality (meaning there are no folds or bends from getting passed around as regular currency).
Look out for Star Replacement Notes
Older automatically equals more valuable, right? Not always! PCGS claims that newer $2 bills with Star Replacement Notes — notes used to replace misprinted and damaged currency that appear as stars near their serial number — can earn you anywhere between $5 and $50. It’s not exactly lottery-winning levels of cash, but it’s more than a couple bucks! Two-dollar bills from the 1958 and 1963 printings have a similar value, regardless of any stars appearing on them.
Bigger bills are better
Now, if you happen to get your hands on a $2 bill that’s even older and looks a little bigger than most cash we’re used to carrying around today, it will get you even more moolah.
James Bucki, a professional numismatic writer (AKA someone who’s spent a lot of time studying valuable money), has said that “most large size two-dollar bills issued from 1862 through 1918 are highly collectible and are worth at least $100 in well-circulated condition.”
Those lucky enough to stumble upon uncirculated $2 bills from that far back could rake in “at least $500 and can go up to $10,000 or more,” says Bucki. Of course, those are a lot harder to find, but they could be hiding in an estate sale haul or passed down to you by a family member.
Bottom line, most $2 bills circulated between 1976 and now without any special stars by the serial number are probably only worth face value — but older printings could make you a little (or a lot) richer!
Read on for more about currency collecting: