Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.
Updated on Tuesday, January 12, 2021
As of 2020, the now rare $500 bill is worth somewhere between $650 and $850, but it can be worth much more than that depending on the individual bill’s condition and other factors. In fact, the value can possibly extend into thousands of dollars.
Since $500 bills are no longer in circulation, they have become collectors’ items. Gone are the days where you could withdraw a $500 in cash from your savings account as a crisp $500 bill. Learn more about the $500 bill, including its current value and history, below.
- Is there a $500 bill?
- What a $500 bill is worth today
- A brief history of the $500 bill
- Who is on the $500 bill?
- How many $500 bills are left?
Is there a $500 bill?
The $500 bill, along with other large denominations, was discontinued by the Federal Reserve in 1969. Since then, the $500 bill has become a sought-after item for currency collectors, with the value of some of these elusive bills reaching up to the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Due to the bill’s status as a collectors’ item, it’s unlikely you’ll receive one from the ATM or as payment. But if you find one stashed in a relative’s attic, you could get a pretty penny from selling it.
What a $500 bill is worth today
Most $500 bills are worth somewhere between $650 to $850 today, as long as they are in decent condition, according to AntiqueMoney, a website run by paper money expert and long-time collector Manning Garrett. However, there are some $500 bills that are worth significantly more:
- While the $500 gold certificate note printed in 1882 is typically considered more common, it’s possible for the note to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the seal type and signature on the bill.
- Then there’s the $500 gold certificate note that was printed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) in 1922 and is the last large size $500 bill printed in the U.S. Most of these bills are now worth around $4,000 each, and if the bill is in especially great condition, its value can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars.
- Meanwhile, the $500 gold certificate that was later printed in 1928 is even more valuable as it was printed during a year when gold certificates were issued in the country for the last time. With only 420,000 of these $500 notes printed, they are now worth anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000 each.
As you can see, there is quite a variety of $500 notes that were printed during their time in circulation. Determining the exact worth of a $500 note can be tricky, as there are a few key factors, such as rarity and the note’s physical condition, that must be taken into consideration.
With so many different variables at play when considering their current worth, the general rule of thumb is to always reach out to a qualified collector for an educated appraisal.
A brief history of the $500 bill
The Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) used to print paper notes for several large monetary denominations, including $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000. Today, the $100 bill is the largest monetary denomination printed and placed into circulation, which means that the possession of a $500 bill could mean you are holding something rare, and possibly of great value.
19th century: The first $500 note was printed by the BEP during the Civil War, and was issued well into the 1960s. Millions of $500 bills were printed over the note’s lifetime, according to AntiqueMoney.com.
20th century: While the $500 bill could be found in the pockets of the very wealthy, the Treasury Department’s website states the bill was mostly used by banks for large payment transfers. Over time, the advancement of banking technology began to steer the higher-denomination paper currencies, including the $500 note, toward obsolescence, and the BEP printed the final $500 notes in 1945.
Discontinued in 1969: The note then stayed in circulation until the Federal Reserve discontinued the note on July 14, 1969, removing it from public circulation altogether.
Who is on the $500 bill?
The appearance of the $500 bill depends on when it was issued.
On the 1918 series of the $500 bill, you’ll find John James Marshall, the fourth chief justice of the U.S., on the front of the bill. On the back is a depiction of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto crossing the Mississippi River.
On the 1928 and 1934 series of the $500 bill, U.S. President William McKinley’s portrait appears on the front.
How many $500 bills are left?
With millions of $500 bills printed before their discontinuation, it is difficult to determine how many are still left today. Federal Reserve banks are required to destroy any $500 notes (as well as any other notes that have been discontinued from public circulation) they receive, and it’s unclear how many $500 bills are being destroyed on a regular basis.
Given the increased monetary value of the bill over the years, consider yourself lucky to encounter one in everyday life.
The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.