Is your $2 bill worth thousands? How to tell

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(NEXSTAR) — If you look at a cash register, you’ll typically see five slots, enough to hold $1 bills, followed by $5s, $10s, $20s, and a slot shared by $50s and $100s. What you won’t usually see is a slot for another low denomination: the $2 bills.

The U.S. has been producing $2 bills since the 1860s (except for a brief pause between the 1960s and 70s), when it began printing paper currency. There are roughly 1.5 billion $2 bills in circulation, according to data from the Federal Reserve, though anywhere between 221.2 million and 256 million have been ordered for printing this year.

However, $2 bills are considered rare in comparison to our other currency and have even been known to be worth thousands of dollars.

Wheat pennies could bring you a pretty penny

There are a number of factors that can make your $2 worth more than $2.

First, there are one of two Founding Fathers that may appear on it: Alexander Hamilton or Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton was on the bill first, according to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving & Printing, but the first portrait of Jefferson appeared on the note in 1869.

The bill was redesigned in 1976 — Jefferson’s portrait was maintained, but his Virginia estate seen on the reverse was swapped out for a vignette of the Declaration of Independence being signed. It’s the same design we see today.

According to online auction service U.S. Currency Auctions, if the bill was minted and printed before 1976, it could actually be worth as much as $4,500.

That eye-popping price also depends on if the bill was uncirculated. A circulated $2 bill, even if it’s from the 1800s, may only be worth a few hundred dollars, the auction service reports.

Newer bills, like one printed in 2003, could also have significant value. A $2 bill recently sold at an auction for $2,400, according to Heritage Auction. (It later resold for $4,000.) Even that was a rare $2 bill, sporting a low serial number — a factor that can attract collectors.

Some of your nickels may be worth more than 5 cents

Unless it has a unique feature, like a low serial number or misprint, a newer $2 bill likely isn’t worth much more than $2, even if it’s uncirculated. As Professional Coin Grading Services explains, if your $2 bill is relatively recent and “has no special markings, errors, or other oddities,” it most likely won’t be worth thousands.

“Odd items are always set aside, but that doesn’t make them rare or terribly valuable,” Dustin Johnson, vice president of Numismatics at Heritage Auctions, told Nexstar last year. At the time, he explained collectors were vying for higher denomination notes that the U.S. is no longer printing, like $500s, $1,000s, $5,000s, and $10,000s Federal Reserve notes.

There can, of course, be exceptions when it comes to $2 bills. If you think you have a valuable $2 note — or wheat penny, or error note, or rare state quarter — experts recommend taking it to a verified coin expert for evaluation.

Sam Sachs contributed to this report.

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