Some $2 Bills Hold More Value Than $100 Bills: You Just Need to Find the Right Ones

By: Lauren Wurth | Published: Nov 06, 2023

Do you remember how the $2 bill used to be seen as a bad omen? If you still hold that belief, then you may want to reframe your thinking—they could be worth a fortune.

Some, not all, of the $2 bills are now worth several times more than the number printed on them. Let’s explore the world of the forsaken $2 bill, which might be worth more than the almighty $100 bill.

Antique, Collectibles or Currency?

An American auction site, U.S. Currency Auction, has listed $2 bills with prices ranging from a hundred to thousands of dollars. Depending on the year the bill was printed and whether or not it was circulated, some $2 bills now have values as high as $4,500.


Source: Picryl

Beyond the age of the notes, the color of the seal on the bill and the note type are other features that currency auctioneers look for in $2 bills. According to the US Currency Auctions website, there are two specific bills – one with a brown seal and the other with a red seal – believed even more than $4,500.


How Rare Is the $2 Bill, Really?

Many Americans believe that the $2 bill is in short circulation. Dollar stores made the $1 note popular, while the $100 has always been a status symbol.


Source: Wikipedia

However, the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors released an official statement about $2 bills in 2021, declaring that 1.4 billion $2 bill notes are in circulation.

Stigmas That Caused the $2 Bill's Unpopularity

In the 1920s, $2 bills were popularly associated with prostitution, gambling, and election rigging. It was so bad that anyone found with a $2 bill during elections was believed to have sold their vote.


Source: Picryl

Also, ‘deuce’ (two) is a common alias for the devil. So, superstitious people naturally saw possessing a $2 note as bad luck. Individuals with this belief would tear off the edges of the bills to “eliminate the bad luck.”

Just Three Designs Since 1862

Unlike some other denominations of the dollar, the $2 bill has had only three designs. The 1862 debut design had the face of Alexander Hamilton. Halmiton was one of the founding fathers of the US, and was first secretary of the American Treasury.


Source: Picryl

The bill was redesigned in 1869, this time, with an engraving of Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd US president. The most-recent redesign in 1976 had a portrait of the American Declaration of Independence.

No Redesign, But Still in Print

Just like $100 is called the ‘Benjies,’ $2 bills have been nicknamed ‘Toms.’ While it is true that Toms have not been redesigned since 1976, they’re still being printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). In 2022, an estimated 204 million bills of $2 were printed by the BEP.

Source: Picryl

Still, $2 notes remain a rare sight. You’ll seldom find people paying for their purchase with this dollar denomination. This trend seems to go beyond some flimsy superstition.


Who Has Hidden the Toms?

It’s almost as if a raven that has a liking for $2 notes has been stashing them away. However, that’s far from the reality.

Source: 2dollarbilldoc/Twitter

Americans occasionally stumble on $2 bills, but are way too reluctant to spend them. Even you may be unconsciously guilty of this trend. The trend has been critically analysed, and some theories have surfaced.


Some Reasons For the Low Adoption of $2 Notes

To mark Jefferson’s birthday in 1976, the Postal Service announced that Americans can get their $2 bills stamped. This move, though well-intended, made people see the $2 bill as a collectible.

Source: Thomas Jefferson/Wikimedia Commons

Also, Pablo Pasquariello — a professor of finance — believes that people prefer multiples of 1 and 5, instead of 2s. Then, there’s also this theory about cash registers.


When the Cashier Doesn't Like You

The cash register that we know today was invented as far back as the early 19th century. There were no $2 notes in circulation at the time, so no compartment was created for them in the original cash register design.

Source: PickPik

Unfortunately, even newer cash registers still lack the capability of storing $2 bills. According to Heather McCabe, Americans will start spending $2 notes when cash registers start coming with a slot for them.


The Outliers That Love $2 Bills

Despite the widespread stigma against $2 notes, some groups of people are known to share a strong bond with them.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

First on our list are Air Force pilots that fly the U-2 plane. Before flying a mission, these pilots make it a point to keep a $2 note in their suit. It’s the U-2 pilot’s good luck charm. Fans of the Clemson University’s Tigers football team have also adopted the $2 as a sort of trademark.