$2 bills are NOT rare. Go out and spend them

I like spending $2 bills. A lot. I suppose I’m a bit of a currency eccentric (I also like $1 coins and do the whole Where’s George thing). I find $2 bills a lot more convenient than $1 bills, since they take up half the space in your wallet for the same dollar amount and the “worst” that can happen from not having $1s is that you get a single $1 bill in addition to some coins as change. I don’t particularly believe in carrying around larger denominations, as I mostly use cash for buying food and I frequently run into situations where no one can break a larger denomination bill (say, a coworker has gone and brought back lunch). So at the very least $2 bills are efficient for my purposes.

But spending $2 bills is also some good clean real life trolling fun. The average cashier will go months if not years without seeing a single $2 bill, so spending many at once gets all sorts of fun reactions. I’ve never not had one accepted, but I have gotten lots of flabbergasted cashiers wondering why I’m spending bills that are “rare”. Well, that is at least a misconception I can clear up.

In recent decades, the US Treasury has printed $2 Federal Reserve notes many times, spanning series years of 1976, 1995, 2003, and 2003A. The most recent printing of the 2003A series was in September 2006 (note that series year and year of actual printing can diverge by many years), and the total print run of the 2003A series was 221 million bills. That’s almost enough for every American to have one. So $2 bills are still in print, they’re not rare, and they’re only ever worth above face value if there’s something unusual about them (just like with all other bills). There’s absolutely no reason not to spend them. And if supplies of them ever run low for whatever reason, the Federal Reserve will be more than happy to print more!

All it takes to get $2 bills is to go to the bank and ask for some. Believe me, they’re more than happy to get rid of the ones they have, because they tend to languish untouched in bank register drawers for months on end. The last time I was at the bank I only got 100 $2 bills, but the cashier was practically begging me to take the rest of the ones they had. And if the bank is out of $2 bills, they should be able to order you some more. I had to do this once when my regular bank completely ran out of $2 bills, and as a nice bonus, the bills that I got were completely new, uncirculated, and with sequential serial numbers.

So I suppose there’s one last question to address: if the $2 bill is so infrequently seen in real life that most people mistakenly think that the bill itself is rare, why does the US Treasury still bother printing them? There’s a one-word answer to that: seignorage! Seignorage is the profit that the Mint makes on the difference between how much the currency costs to produce (in the case of bills, a few cents) and its face value ($2 in the case of the $2 bill, obviously) if the currency is taken out of circulation. The Treasury makes comparatively little in seignorage on $1 bills, because they’re so incredibly common that hardly anyone intentionally takes them out of circulation by saving them. But $2 bills go out of circulation very frequently due to to people saving them and then never spending them, so the Treasury makes a pretty penny.

So the next time you’re at the bank, ask the teller for some $2 bills and then actually go out and spend them. They’re a great way to strike up random conversations as you’re buying things (which is otherwise a very boring process). Waiters love receiving them as tips. And they truly are the most beautiful of any of the bills currently in circulation, with Thomas Jefferson on the front (what a cool dude) and the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the back. Eye-pyramid of the Illuminati, eat your heart out!

35 Responses to “$2 bills are NOT rare. Go out and spend them”

  1. Scott Says:

    I love doing this too. I usually get $100 worth at at time. Occasionally I’ll paperclip $10 worth and put it into my drawer at work and hand $2s out as change (it’s hilarious to see customers boggle at them). Unlike you, though, I prefer to get precirculated batches, for two reasons. One, if a bill shows obvious signs of wear, it’s less likely someone will want to keep it in their sock drawer, and two, sometimes you can get some fun stuff in older straps. Aside from your typical star notes (which I collect in all denominations), one batch I had contained a Series 1953 red-seal United States Note (with Monticello on the reverse).

    One great thing about the $2 that you didn’t mention is it’s great for buying small items. A sandwich might be priced at $1.00, but with our city sales tax the final total is $1.08. It’s simpler to just plop down a $2 than two $1s or a single and a few coins. And of course there’s lots of everyday items in the $1 to $2 range.

  2. Ed Says:

    What the… I just noticed the inscription “in god we trust”. Do american notes still have that rubbish printed on them? Isn’t it about time to get rid of it?

  3. Cyde Weys Says:

    Ed: Yup, every piece of currency, both bill and coin. It’s bullshit. One wonders how this is even possibly compatible with the separation of church and state.

    And I suppose it’s okay if someone “trusts in God” (whatever that means, he wasn’t very trustworthy on 9/11 or during Hurricane Katrina), but why the hell does that need to be written on all of currency? If we don’t put it on billions of pieces of circulating paper and metal it’s no longer true? Huh?

  4. William (green) Says:

    I think you’ve got about 70% of Americans to fight on that one. Or at least, a nominal 70%. I’d bet actual religiousness is closer to 25%, with 50% kind wishy-washy about it.

  5. Ed Says:

    Some definitions I like to use, whenever anyone asks:
    Theism: Belief in god. Theists believe in god, atheists don’t.
    Gnosticism: To be sure of something. Gnostics are sure, agnostics are not sure.
    With this we can build a two by two matrix:
    * Gnostic theist – believes in god, is sure about it and nothing will change his mind.
    * Agnostic theist – believes in god, though open to contrary explanations. Will stop believing once a sufficiently good explanation comes around.
    * Agnostic atheist – does not believe in god, but keeps an open mind. If someone proves that god exists he will believe.
    * Gnostic atheist – does not believe in god, period. Doesn’t even want to know or hear explanations otherwise.
    Sure, you’re going to say that I use these terms incorrectly and so on and so on and so on, but my point is that it would be interesting to see how americans (or any other population) fall into these categories. Unfortunately things are hardly ever explained this way and it’s impossible to get this from any census.
    Anyway, Williams numbers are a good starting point:
    30% atheist (gnostics and agnostics)
    20% gnostic theists
    50% agnostic theists
    If each atheist was to concentrate on 2 people of the last population and really gave it his/her best they could, potentially, turn things around. ah… I´m such an optimist…

  6. William (green) Says:

    Sounds like a pretty good way of describing it. I would consider myself an agnostic atheist in your system.

  7. Cyde Weys Says:

    Ed: Nice, you’re taking the bi-axial alignment system of D&D pre-4th Edition and turning it to religion.

    Personally, I don’t bother trying to qualify “atheist”. I just say I’m an atheist, and whatever people think about that is generally correct. I’d rather not be confusing and then have to explain what, say, “agnostic atheist” means. Personally, I don’t even know any gnostic atheists. Everyone I know who is an atheist is one because they have a scientific/rational worldview, which rules gnostic atheism well out.

  8. William (green) Says:

    Um… Why does the “Where’s George” link, point to your post on why you quit Facebook?

  9. Cyde Weys Says:

    William: No idea. It should probably link to http://www.wheresgeorge.com. I guess I just had the wrong link in my copy buffer when I did that.

  10. bellczar Says:

    What a great argument for the $2 bill! But… the painting on the back is not the signing of the Declaration but its presentation to the Continental Congress by the 5-man drafting committee.

  11. Dexter Says:

    It’s amazing that the USA still has 1 and 2 notes at all.It must cost a fortune to keep replacing them.Here in Australia we replaced them with coins 20 yrs ago and we no longer have 1 and 2 cent coins either.

    Still i miss the old paper notes.

  12. Dave Says:

    The $2 bill is great, but I’m ashamed that I am one of those who sticks them in drawers cause they seem rare. I know better, but still. I don’t care for the $1 coins, but I miss the old large Eisenhower ones and the Kennedy half dollars, I loved getting those as a kid.

    People with registers hate $2 bills cause they usually have no where to put them, but a lot of people like to get them because they’re “rare”…

    I hate “In God We Trust” I believe it was put on in the 50′s after a preacher circulated a petition and got enough signatures (http://www.ustreas.gov/education/fact-sheets/currency/in-god-we-trust.shtml). Interesting enough it first appeared on the 2 cent coin (and there was once a 3 cent coin, who knew). See what happens when people don’t pay attention? Side note: “Under God” was also added to the pledge of Allegiance.

    Now I’m not very religious and believe in the separation of church and state, but even if you are religious I’d say there are a couple of good reasons to not have it. One, most everyone agrees that money is evil despite the good it can do, all paper money has cocaine on it, and the main reason is Jesus himself threw the money changers out of the temple. I’d say even the big man himself says religion and money do not mix.

  13. james Says:

    I know the $2 bill is still in circulation and that it is not rare, but i wouldn’t say people can get them anytime they want. I called my bank to see if they have any in stock; they told me they don’t order them and the only ones they have in stock are from customers. They only had one single bill when i called! So where do i go now?

  14. Lindsey Says:

    Interesting chain of conversation so far. I feel pretty much like Dave. I do believe in God, but I don’t think his name belongs on money. The government should separate the crap out of it.

    As for keeping $2 bills, I am a saver. But not forever, I plan on buying something expensive with them someday. I will spend $1,000 in $2 on a flat screen TV! Woudn’t that get somebody all upset!

    Any large bank can order them for you from a Federal Reserve. I prefer to just collect the used ones. It’s more fun to just come across old ones than to order new ones, that’s cheating.

  15. Kevin Says:

    @ james

    you do not have to go to a bank that you have an account at just go to any bank and you shall receive

  16. JFG Says:

    I had a friend who offered $2 bills for change in his home improvement business. However, he soon quit the process because too many people got suspicious or wanted $1 bills instead. Where he lives, I suppose that George Washington is more appreciated than Thomas Jefferson.

  17. blaine Says:

    @ Dave

    In response to the earlier assertion of when “In God We Trust” was put on coins, you mentioned the 50′s. I assume you meant the 1950′s? Actually it was a request made to Sec. Of Treas. in 1861 by a reverend in PA. This was due to a lerger religious/faith sentiment that grew during the Civil War.

    http://www.ustreas.gov/education/fact-sheets/currency/in-god-we-trust.shtml

    Not trying to be argumentative, but if this were to come up in one of the readers’ conversations it’s best to be equipped with facts. Not a fan or critic of the motto; however, it is interesting to consider the different mindsets or dispositions our country has gone through. (after 9/11 there was a larger faith sentiment as well…at least polls reflected as much).

    Thanks

  18. Roger Says:

    Isn’t there something about the $2 bill having a misprint with one of the table legs missing and only the man’s leg there instead? Is this bill worth anything?

  19. Ryan North Says:

    I give out $2 in change at my store all the time. Customers love seeing them and it really draws attention to my store. It really speeds up the transaction process when using $2 over(2)$1 bills. My bank has also helped me with this by ordering more $2 bills since the first week they ran out of their supply. Been doing it for 2-3 months now.

  20. Mark Says:

    I work at a gas station and I give out $2 bills and 50¢ coins in change all the time. (There are five bill-slots like in most cash registers in the U.S. Like any place that doesn’t do large volume transactions, there are no $50s or $100s in the drawer (they go directly the safe). From right to left, there are slots for $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, and 50¢. ($1 coins go in the same slot as $1 bills.) That there isn’t room for them in a cashier’s drawer is nonsense.

  21. naps96 Says:

    I think it’s time we replace the $1 bill with $1 coin. Then replace the $1 tray slot in cash register with the $2 bill. I’ve been doing my part by ordering the $1 coin from the mint and spending them around town. One time though in DC, there was slot for $1 coin in a parking meter, and i put $2 and it just ate it up. Sad day. Used quarter instead.

  22. John E Snow Says:

    That signature appears on all denominations of U.S. paper currency issued in the year 2003

  23. JP Says:

    Absolutely!! I carry twos around with me all the time, and dollar coins. If I break a large bill and can’t work it so that I won’t get dollar bills back, I’ll just put them in another pocket and yank them from circulation. Those don’t get spent and go right back to the bank for more two dollar bills and dollar coins. But for as many dollars in odd currency that I’ve spread around, I’ve never gotten any as change.

  24. DJB Says:

    People still use cash? That’s so cute. From the looks of this comments section, it must be all of the atheists. As a 21st-century gnostic theist, I prefer to pay for things with my cell phone or a credit card.

  25. Paul Says:

    I Work at Safeway and we get $2 bills every other week or so from some blind customers who shop with us. But i am pretty sure they go directly back to the Federal Reserve Bank because we have no slot in our cash drawers for them .

  26. factchecker Says:

    Don’t stores and cashiers refuse or give you a hard time with the bills, which is silly because who would fake a $2 while the store accepts $50 bills or restaurant, $2 bills however feel like they are worth more because in a few cases they are uncirculated quality, feel like real new crisp money

  27. Allan Says:

    For all of you blathering about separation of church and state, read the truth about that separation. It IS stated that the “state” will not establish a “state religion”. King Henry VIII, create the Church of England and that drove people to the new country to escape it.
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …” — the First Amendment

    It has nothing at all to do with “in God we trust” on our money. The is NO government endorsed church in the United States.

  28. Keenan Says:

    @ Allan

    Thank you! I wish more people would pay attention to facts not left/right political buzz words…

  29. Angelbane Says:

    Amen … People need to learn to read and comprehend what the Constitution actually says.

  30. Robert Says:

    @DJB

    I like to use cash as i also cash my check ever so often. Banks hate it
    they treat you like a second citizen.They frown on cashing checks and
    that alone is good reason to make sure there is something tangible backing
    up the digits on our computer screens.
    If your banks computers go off line”do you have cash”?

  31. auralb Says:

    Allan Says:
    March 24th, 2012 at 13:57
    “For all of you blathering about separation of church and state, read the truth about that separation. It IS stated that the “state” will not establish a “state religion”. King Henry VIII, create the Church of England and that drove people to the new country to escape it.
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …” — the First Amendment

    It has nothing at all to do with “in God we trust” on our money. The is NO government endorsed church in the United States.”

    ======================

    Allan, you may want to read that again.

    It says “establishment of religion”, not “establishment of *a* religion”.

    Declaring that there is not only a God, but we should all trust in it is exactly the first thing you say when you are establishing religion as a real thing.

    When you give it a name and tell us what sort of people it thinks we are allowed to kill, now you are establishing *a* religion.

    Congress will not establish religion. They will not talk about religion. They will have no opinion on the matter when they are sitting in their seats in the big white buildings doing Congress stuff on the clock. They will not worry about God, because Congress WILL NOT ESTABLISH RELIGION.

    Putting God stuff on our federal currency and adding it the the pledge of allegiance is *establishing religion*.

    The reason you probably can’t understand this is because you believe in “God”, and think that as long as you don’t give it a name, but still accept it exists, that’s the same as not establishing religion, but it certainly is.

    What if Congress sent every citizen in the country an empty stamp collecting book, with the caveat “We are not establishing that stamp collecting is a hobby, but here is your empty stamp collecting book, which again, is not part of a hobby, we just thought everyone should have an empty stamp collecting book. Remember, we aren’t saying you should collect stamps as a hobby, but here is this nice empty stamp collecting book! Not a hobby!”

  32. GOB Says:

    I’ve noticed that most buses and other means of public transportation will not accept $2 bills in their automatic machines. I don’t know if this goes for other vending machines as well, but it’s something to keep in mind.

  33. me Says:

    It’s a wonder that people actually think separation of church and state exists. It was intended to keep the state from interfering in the church, but the exact opposite occurs today. Government controls religion. Just look in any government-run school. What religion do they teach? Atheism. You’d be surprised at just how much the textbooks lie just to evangelize students. Religion is very much oppressed. It is very common today for teachers to be fired for not being atheist, even if they’re teaching something like gym.

  34. Casey Says:

    me Says:
    July 5th, 2012 at 16:24

    It’s a wonder that people actually think separation of church and state exists. It was intended to keep the state from interfering in the church, but the exact opposite occurs today. Government controls religion. Just look in any government-run school. What religion do they teach? Atheism. You’d be surprised at just how much the textbooks lie just to evangelize students. Religion is very much oppressed. It is very common today for teachers to be fired for not being atheist, even if they’re teaching something like gym.

    ————–

    Was it now, oh Mighty Interpreter of Constitutional Intent? You must have the amazing ability to not only read minds, but to read them from 225 years after they were used to develop thoughts. Tell me, what was George Washington’s favorite color and preferred type of fish? How did he cook it?

    Can’t answer? Funny, it appears your powers are limited. Maybe just when it deals with fish and cooking.

    Or maybe–just maybe–it’s your political belief that this is true. Which is just fine, by the way – there’s nothing wrong with having one. Until you call it a fact.

    And your thoughts on teachers? Garbage. Did you ever go to public school in the last ten years? I did. I had a Catholic teacher in US history call me a heathen in front of the class because he was insistent that your argument above was 100% true (it was his argument too, in 2003). Funny, when I did my own reading I found it to be identical to your argument: belief. I never met an atheist teacher in my life. I discussed faith with them–because I wanted to understand them as people.

    I had a biology teacher who was asked point-blank by a student who was offended to be in a biology class and had to learn about that horrible study of evolution thing. You know. The thing that basically made us capable of walking upright and.. speech. And typing opinions on the Internet. The teacher backed down from the student’s bashing because he was afraid of not being faithful and offending the rest of the classroom.

    Your delusions do not a fact make. YOU think separation of church and state was intended to keep the state from interfering with the church. I think the separation of church and state exists because some churchgoers are allergic to bee stings and some of those statehouses have some really nice grounds. The important thing we should both take from this is that your opinion and facts are not mutually inclusive, in general.

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