The official currency of the USA is the US dollar. Seven different denominations of banknotes and six different denominations of coins are in circulation. USA presidents and other famous figures are depicted on this currency.
The official abbreviation for the US dollar is USD, although the $ is commonly used as the dollar symbol. The current exchange rate of the dollar and other currencies can be quickly found on Google. For example, search 15.50 USD to EUR.
There are dollar bills in circulation in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. USA banknotes are printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which has offices in Washington, D.C. and Fort Worth in Texas.
These banknotes are easily interchangeable, as they are very similar in color and all have the same dimensions, 15.60 cm × 6.63 cm. The paper used for all dollar bills is made of 75% cotton and 25% linen.
The first one hundred dollar bill was printed in 1861. It features a portrait of Benjamin Franklin on the obverse, hence it’s nicknamed Bens, Benjamins, Franklins, or C-Notes after the Roman numeral for one hundred.
Along with the ten-dollar bill, it is the only note that does not carry a portrait of a President. The reverse side of the $100 bill depicts Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
According to 2020 statistics, 33% of the notes in circulation are $100 bills. Interestingly, the average lifespan of a $100 bill is 23 years. The cost of printing a hundred-dollar bill is $0.14.
The obverse of the $50 bill depicts the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, and the reverse features the United States Capitol. The note, nicknamed the Grant, was first put into circulation in 1861.
The average lifespan of a $50 bill is 12 years; in 2020, the $50 bill accounted for about 5% of all notes in circulation. Printing this note costs $0.11.
The obverse of the $20 bill depicts the 7th USA President, Andrew Jackson, and will feature a portrait of Harriet Tubman starting in 2020. The reverse side of the twenty dollar bill features the White House.
The first $20 bill was introduced in 1861 and today lasts an average of 7.8 years in circulation. $20 bills account for about 23% of all the notes in circulation. The USA government pays $0.11 to produce one note.
The obverse of the $10 bill bears the portrait of the first USA Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Together with the $100 bill, these are the only two notes that do not feature a USA President. It is also the only note with a portrait facing to the left. The reverse side of the note features the Treasury Department building in Washington, D.C.
According to statistics, $10 bills make up 5% of all banknotes in circulation, with an average lifespan of 5.3 years. First issued in 1861, the cost to produce a single bill is $0.11.
The $5 USA bill features a portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the obverse, while the reverse is dominated by a memorial to this president.
The note, first issued in 1861, was formerly known as the “fin” note, which was Yiddish for the number five. The average lifespan of a five-dollar bill is 4.7 years, after which it is typically replaced by a new one. About 6% of all bills in circulation are five-dollar notes. The cost to produce one is $0.11.
The two dollar bill is the rarest USA bill, making up only 3% of the bills issued. Demand for this denomination is low amongst merchants, and people are starting to lose recognition of it. Occasionally, they even mistake a legal $2 bill for a counterfeit.
The obverse of the note features a portrait of President Thomas Jefferson, while the reverse features a modified image of The Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull. The cost to produce one note is $0.06.
The one-dollar bill is the most common, comprising a 26% share of all bills in 2020. The obverse displays a portrait of President George Washington, while the USA national emblem and bald eagle appear on the reverse.
The current size of the one-dollar bill has been in production since 1929, and since 1957, it has carried the legally required motto “In God We Trust”. Also known as the single, buck, bone, or bill, it has an average lifespan of only 6.6 years.
The cost of producing a dollar bill as of 2021 is $0.06.
The one-dollar coin, minted in gold and silver colors, utilizes a copper-brass alloy instead of real gold. The dollar coin, first minted in 1794, has a diameter of 2.65 cm and a thickness of 0.20 cm.
The coin’s motif varies. The 2000 edition depicted Sacagawea, a Shoshone tribe woman who was the only woman to participate in the exploration of the American West in the early 19th century. From 2007 to 2016, the faces of U.S. presidents alternated on the front.
The reverse side showcased themes commemorating the contributions of Native Americans to U.S. history between 2009 and 2016. The 2007 coins feature the Statue of Liberty.
On the dollar coin, you may find a letter indicating the mint that produced the coin. The P stands for Philadelphia (dollar coins have been minted there since 1793), the S for San Francisco (since 1854), and the W for West Point (since 1984).
50 Cent Coin – Half Dollar, Fifty Cent
The 50-cent coin is silver, 3.06 cm in diameter, 0.22 cm thick, and adorned with 150 ridges along the edge. The coin consists of a copper-nickel alloy and weighs 11.34 grams.
The 50-cent coin is not popular among people, so coins with the 1964 motifs are still in circulation. The obverse features a portrait of President John F. Kennedy, while the reverse bears the Presidential Seal.
The 25 Cent Coin – Quarter, Quarter
The 25-cent coin is silver in color, 2.43 cm in diameter, and 0.18 cm thick. The quarter weighs 5.67 g, and the edge is decorated with 119 ridges. The coin has been minted with occasional interruptions since 1796, but continuously since 1831.
The obverse of the coin bears the portrait of George Washington, with five designs alternating annually on the reverse. From 1999 to 2009, they represented individual U.S. states, and from 2010 to 2021, they depicted U.S. national parks.
The quarter’s unusual face value has its origins in Spanish dollars, which were divided into eighths in the mid-19th century. This practice was adopted by Americans.
The production cost of a quarter in 2020 was $0.08.
The 10¢ Coin – Dime, Dime
The silver dime has been in circulation since 1796 and is made of a copper and nickel alloy. The dime’s edge is adorned with 118 ridges. The coin has a diameter of 1.79 cm, a thickness of 0.14 cm, and a weight of 2.268 g.
The term dime comes from the French word dîme (tenth, tithe). The production cost of one coin is $0.00.
The current design of the dime has remained unchanged since 1946. The obverse bears a portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the inscription Liberty, while the reverse features, from left to right, an olive branch, a torch, and an oak branch.
The 5¢ Coin – Nickel, Nickel, Quintal
The silver nickel weighs precisely 5 grams. The coin’s diameter is 2.12 cm, its thickness is 0.20 cm, and it is composed of an alloy of 25% nickel and 75% copper. The cost of minting one coin is $0.07, which exceeds its face value.
The obverse of the nickel features a portrait of Thomas Jefferson, while the reverse shows the Monticello monument near Charlottesville in Virginia. This 1772 plantation was built by the third president of the United States.
1 Cent Coin – Penny
The lowest denomination US coin is copper in color, although 97.5% of the coin is zinc. The dimensions of the one-cent coin are 1.91 cm in diameter and 0.15 cm in thickness. Weighing 2.5 g, the penny has been minted continuously since 1793. The symbol for the cent is ¢.
The cost of minting a single coin in 2020 was $0.02, leading to an annual loss of $58,000,000 from penny production.
The obverse side of the one-cent coin features a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, while the reverse side, redesigned in 2010, showcases the Union shield with the inscription E pluribus unum. Until 1956, this phrase was the unofficial motto of the United States, translating as “Out of many, one.”
Dollar coins are in circulation in denominations of $1, 50 cents, 25 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents, and 1 cent. The United States Mint, with offices in Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point, New York, mints these coins. The Mint also maintains a significant vault in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
The United States minted its first coins in 1793. Today, dozens of coin variations circulate, primarily differing in the thematic design of the reverse side.