All dollar bills (notes) are exactly the same size and traditionally they were all basically the same green colour which can still lead to confusion so be careful when handing over bills or receiving change.
To help combat counterfeiters the US Treasury have started to use colour-shifting inks starting with the $20 bill in 2003, $50 bill in 2004, $10 bill in 2006 and the $100 bill in 2007. There are no plans to update the $5, $2 or $1 bills at this time and all the old style bills are still valid.
In October 2013, a new $100 bill was introduced which features a number of changes including raised printing. The bill still features Benjamin Franklin but like the other new denominations it nows has a little colour. Of particular note is a copper coloured inkwell with a colour shifting bell motif and a colour shifting number 100 denoting the value.
There is also a distinctive blue holographic dashed line running top to bottom which displays either a Liberty Bell or the number 100 depending on how you view it.
The dollar bills come in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 though the $2 bill is rarely seen. A dollar is often called a buck.
Coins in regular circulation consist of the:
- copper 1¢ (penny)
- silver 5¢ (nickel)
- silver 10¢ (dime)
- silver 25¢ (quarter)
- gold $1 (new dollar coin), though these are not often found in general circulation
It is worth keeping a handful of quarters in your car for paying tolls on some roads where they have automatic toll booths.
Do not take foreign cash; i.e. Sterling or Euros, as it will be difficult to convert this into Dollars.
Presidential $1 Coins
The US Mint introduced a new $1 coin just before President’s Day in 2007. Unlike earlier silver dollars (see below), this time it was a gold coloured coin featuring George Washington on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other side. An image can be found in the March 2007 newsletter.
The intention is to feature a different former president every three months in the order in which they served and the series will run up until 2016. The second coin in the series featuring John Adams was issued in May followed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
In 2008, the coins represented James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. The presidents to be featured in 2009 are William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor.
Native American $1 Coins
In 2009 the US Mint announced a new series of $1 coins celebrating the important contributions made by Native American Indian tribes. The plan was to mint one new Native American $1 coin each year in conjunction with the four presidential $1 coins.
The first coin featured a Native American woman planting seeds in a field of corn, beans and squash. The obverse design was similar to the “Sacagawea” design first produced in 2000 (see below).
The release of the Presidential Dollars follows on from the successful series of 50 State Quarters that are currently being issued. Each State is having its own design on the quarter, the one for Florida was released in April 2004.
Earlier $1 Coins
The two previous attempts to introduce a $1 coin have been largely unsuccessful. Both the Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea dollar coins were not accepted by the public but for the initial presidential series, the Mint ordered 300 million of the George Washington dollar coins to increase potential circulation. However some banks did not bother to order any of the coins featuring John Adams as they still had stocks of the George Washington coin.
The Susan B. Anthony dollar was introduced in 1979 but was easily confused with a quarter. The second attempt, the Sacagawea was introduced in 2000 and was slightly larger and thicker than a quarter.
All the new $1 coins are the same size as the Sacagawea and can be used in any vending machine that accepts the earlier dollar coin. The hope is that the coin will be adopted by other organizations such as parking meter companies.
There are still doubts as to whether it will succeed as there are no plans to withdraw the $1 bill and both the $1 bill and the $1 coin will be in circulation at the same time.
The only time you are likely to come across $1 coins is as change from a vending machine such as some of the lockers found at theme parks.