New $5 bill starts circulating today

The new $5 enters circulation today with a ceremonial "first spend" at the gift shop of President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home in Washington, D.C.  The various Federal Reserve Banks will also start providing new $5 bills as they fill orders for cash from banks.  Some banks should have them in a matter of days, although it'll probably be several weeks before you start seeing them.

Having written about the new $5 when the design was unveiled back in October, I wanted to let you know the new bills are actually out there, as of today.

Of course, old $5 bills remain legal tender and should spend just the same.

The treasury is trying to use every avenue to get the word out, including bloggers.  (I got email from their advertising agency mentioning my earlier post and inviting me to the event at the Lincoln Cottage!)  I guess this makes sense--the more people know that the new bill is coming, the less confusion there'll be.  Also, the more people know about the new security measures, the tougher it'll be for counterfeiters.

With that in mind, here are the new security measures:

There are now two watermarks--a large numeral 5 on the right where there used to be a portrait of Lincoln and three smaller 5s in a column to the left:

Watermarks on new $5 bill

The security thread has been moved to the right of the portrait:

Security thread on new $5

The idea behind both the changes is to make the bill more different from higher denomination bills, so it'll be easier to spot counterfeits made by bleaching out a $5 and printing a counterfeit $50 or $100 bill on the paper.

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Guest's picture

The radio DJs in my area have been telling people to have their 5's checked at banks because some don't look like "normal" ones. :) The 5's they describe sound like the new ones. Looks like we got our new fives right off the bat! I wonder why they didn't know about the new design, I did.

Guest's picture

Ahhh... if only they were giving out free samples! :-)

Guest's picture

I wonder if vending machines will accept these new bills. Vending machines never accept my new fives and tens.

Philip Brewer's picture

The Bureau of Engraving and Printed got design info out to the makers of vending machines more than a year in advance, in an effort to ensure that machines would be able handle the new bills when they came out.

The current $20--the first of the US bills to feature color--started circulating in 2003.  I expect any vending machines designed since then were designed to be software upgradable to handle new bills.  Machines older than that (and I'm sure there's lots of them), may not have been designed to ever handle money except what there was when the machine was built.