Market Watch
Oct. 8, 2013

The C-note just got a colorful makeover — and a heftier price tag.

The revamped $100 bill costs 12.5 cents to produce — a 60% increase over the 7.8 cents it cost to print the older version of the bill. The government has printed 3.5 billion of the new $100 bills, which it began delivering to financial institutions Tuesday. How soon customers will see the new bills depends on their distance from a regional Fed office, demand, and a few other factors.

Among the reasons it’s more expensive than the older currency: Its new security features, which help prevent counterfeiting. For one, there’s a blue 3-D ribbon running through the center of the bill. When you tilt the bill back and forth, the bell designs that are embedded in the ribbon change to 100s. Another major feature is an image of a bell in an inkwell; when tilted, the bell seems to appear and disappear into the inkwell. “We are raising the bar for counterfeiters,” says Sonja Danburg, the program manager for U.S. currency education at the Federal Reserve Board.

So how big of an issue is counterfeiting? While it’s impossible to know how much U.S. currency is counterfeited each year, experts say it’s a small amount. A report by the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago estimates that roughly $60 million to $80 million in counterfeit dollars is circulating the globe at any given time. That’s between 80 cents and $1 — for every $10,000 in circulation. However, a lot of that is higher denomination bills like $100s.

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