What Happened to US Two-Dollar Bills?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

In one sense, nothing at all has happened to US two-dollar bills. They are still in circulation and are still considered legal tender. The fact remains, however, that relatively few people would be able to produce bills of this denomination from their wallets on demand these days. Even at the height of their popularity, during the 1950s and 1960s, two-dollar bills were rarely given out as change or stored in designated cash register slots. If it hadn't been for a renewed interest during the country's bicentennial in 1976, the denomination may have been completely phased out.

The two-dollar bill is still in circulation.
The two-dollar bill is still in circulation.

Many people believe that two-dollar bills are so rare or so collectible that hoarding them makes more financial sense than spending them. The truth is that most of those in circulation today are worth exactly $2 US Dollars (USD). They are not especially rare, at least not from a coin collector's perspective. Federal reserve banks still order them to replace ones pulled from circulation due to condition or age. The reason many of these bills are not seen on the street is that recipients tend to save them as curiosities or collectibles rather than put them into general circulation.

One reason people rarely use two-dollar bills is that they do not work in vending machines.
One reason people rarely use two-dollar bills is that they do not work in vending machines.

There are organizations and individuals who actively promote the use of two-dollar bills as everyday currency. Many bills are marked "this is not a rare bill" to encourage others to spend them like any other denomination. The gift shop at Monticello, the homestead of Thomas Jefferson, is said to routinely give them out as change to honor the president featured on the face of the currency. There are rumors of certain store owners not accepting this denomination from customers, believing that the bills are either counterfeit or no longer considered legal tender.

Two-dollar bills may suffer from the same perception problems as the Susan B. Anthony silver dollar coin or the recent Sacajawea golden dollar coin. Few vending machines are set to accept them, although they are generally accepted at self-service grocery store checkout stands. These bills seem to be most popular as tips, although there are rumors that certain military members and out-of-state visitors will deliberately spend them to prove their impact on the local economy.

There is no slot in most cash registers for two-dollar bills.
There is no slot in most cash registers for two-dollar bills.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


The 2 dollar bill is legal tender. You may use them anywhere where the sales clerk is smart enough to accept them. The Treasury is printing Series 2013 $2 bills. That means that the $2 bill is current. There are actually over 1 billion or more Federal Reserve Note $2 bills in circulation at this time since 1976.


My brother is saying the $2 bills can't be used, so I started to research on the internet to see if that's true. I mean, just because it's rare doesn't mean that it can't be allowed to use it. It has already been approved by the United States to make $2 bills. They shouldn't have made it in the first place if we're not even allowed to use it in some places.


We will not have to worry about use of two dollar bills or any U.S. currency for that matter, if we don't stop these mad men in Washington from printing, borrowing and giving our future tax money away.


There are fewer than 66 million post-1929 United States Note 2 dollar bills left in circulation.


@anon142942: I'm pretty sure that they printed more of the '76 series than any other after that. Chances are that they probably won't be worth much more than that unless you hold on to them for a long, long time and something else happens to the other 590 million other two dollar bills that were printed in that run.


I have decided that I am going to actively use $1 coins and $2 bills. When I get cash at the bank, I am going to request the two and use them to try and promote their use. I know it isn't likely to make a major impact, but I am still going to do it.


I sent in a 1963 $2 bill to the BEP that was moth eaten and worthless to any collector. I sent it in in August, 2010. The BEP destroyed it September, 2010. I received a check for $2 in March, 2011. It took the BEP eight months to settle a $2 case.


@anon57783. The same thing just happened to me at a GNC in Florida. The clerk acted like the $2 I gave her was covered in plague, and refused to take it. The shop lost a $91 sale because they refused to take a $2.


i guess i can just bring all my two dollar bills to the bank instead of saving them, then.


If someone doesn't accept $2 as currency they are either uneducated or a foreigner and have no idea.


I know something now I didn't know before about the two dollar bill.


Can anyone help me understand if there is any future value in the 76 $2 bill? What is its value today? Thank you very much.


The younger generation should try horse racing. $2 bills are used to bet with.


It doesn't make sense that we don't use $2 bills frequently. Almost nothing costs less than a dollar; it's always a dollar something, which would make $2 bills a better choice. The government should switch to coin dollars, and raise production of the $2 bill while phasing out the dollar bill. At the end of the year, this will save them money.


I was just at a GameStop in Delaware, store 4506. They would not accept my sons 2 dollar bills ($40) worth. They lost a $250 sale as the sales clerk refused to take our two dollar bills!

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