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How many US dollars are in circulation today?

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The journey of each individual currency note is pretty incredible. After being printed or minted, each bill is then passed between people and businesses to facilitate transactions. If it’s a $1 or $5 bill, it changes hands on average about 110 times per year – and if it’s a $20 bill, it’s more like 75. The interesting part is that almost every transaction is linked to the one before it, and the series of subsequent transactions for each bill creates a unique, broad story.

By the time a bill is retired, it would have facilitated many hundreds of transactions that enabled everything from the purchase of used cars to the shadier deals in underground markets. It’s a pretty interesting tale for such a little piece of paper.

About US dollar bills

The infographic from TitleMax gives a sense of what happens when all of those individual stories are combined together into one large one: the U.S. supply of currency notes, the shelf life of each type of bill, and how the whole system works as a whole.

In total, there is a total of about $1.5 trillion in U.S. physical currency in circulation, and roughly 80% of this value comes from the 11.5 billion $100 notes that are in circulation.

Note Number of bills in circulation
$1 bill 11.7 billion
$2 bill 1.2 billion
$5 bill 2.8 billion
$10 bill 1.9 billion
$20 bill 8.9 billion
$50 bill 1.7 billion
$100 bill 11.5 billion

Of course, this is just a fraction of the total money that exists as a whole, which includes digital deposits and liquidity added by central banks. That’s why, in the U.S. today, there’s about $14 trillion in total money supply (M2), of which physical currency makes up only about 11% of the total value.


Every year, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing is responsible for printing new dollars – and interestingly, 70% of these new bills are used to replace older notes going out of circulation. That raises the question: how many years does each bill last on average?

Note Average Life Span
$1 bill 5.8 years
$5 bill 5.5 years
$10 bill 4.5 years
$20 bill 7.9 years
$50 bill 8.5 years
$100 bill 15.0 years

This means that printers are mostly turning out new batches of $1 and $20 bills, since there are more of those in circulation than most other bills. At the same time, many new $100 notes are also being printed as well since they are the second most common bill. However, these last 2-3x as long as smaller denominations.

Courtesy of/Source: Visual Capitalist

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