How Long Do Dollar Bills Stay in Circulation?


Quick Answer

The amount of time dollar bills remain in circulation varies depending on the denomination, which ranges from 4 to 15 years in the United States. The variation in lifespan of currency stems primarily from frequency of use, say authors at Forbes. Bills of higher denominations, such as $50 and $100, do not receive as much use, and therefore enjoy longer lives as circulating currency than smaller bills.

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Full Answer

The Federal Reserve maintains a chart of currency in the United States and corresponding approximate lifespan. This chart includes all denominations except for the $2 bill, which does not circulate widely enough to have an average lifespan, say experts at the Federal Reserve.

The lowest bill in the sequence, the $1, averages just less than 6 years in trade. The $5 and $10 bills retire after approximately 4 to 5 years. The $20 and $50 bill enjoy lifespans of slightly less than 8 years and anywhere from less than 5 to around 8 1/2 years, respectively. The highest American bill in circulation, the $100 bill, may remain in use for up to 15 years. Although the Federal Reserve leaves bills in circulation for those approximate times, it monitors the condition of bills using an electronic system. Bills showing excessive wear and tear or damage are pulled from circulation prematurely.

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