5 Rare 100-Dollar Bills You Can Retire On

Turns out, it really is all about the Benjamins with these super valuable 100-dollar bills.

Published April 9, 2024
One hundred American dollar bills

You can call it a C-note, a Benjamin, a Franklin, or a Ben, but no matter what nickname you give it, a 100-dollar bill is always worth at least $100. In some cases, though, super rare 100-dollar bills are worth way more. In fact, some extremely fine examples can be worth six or seven figures. Recognizing these treasures comes down to knowing what makes them special. Even if you don't find a super valuable 100-dollar bill in your bank envelope, you'll know what to watch for in the future.

100-Dollar Bill Value Chart

Keep a value chart at the ready if you're on the lookout for rare bills. These example values come from data gathered by US Currency Auctions. You'll see some of the value superstars here, including the 1863 100-dollar bill, the 1882 100-dollar bill, and others.

Year Type Size Seal Color Circulated Value Uncirculated Value
1863 United States Note Large Red $12,500 - $25,000 $35,000 and up
1869 United States Note Large Red $11,500 - $25,000 $45,000 and up
1878 Silver Certificate Large Red Too rare to estimate N/A
1880 Silver Certificate Large Brown $7,000 - $25,000 N/A
1882 Gold Certificate Large Brown $3,000 - $8,000 $15,000 and up
1890 Treasury Note Large Brown $50,000 - $100,000 N/A
1891 Silver Certificate Large Red $7,000 - $15,000 $25,000 and up
1934 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $135 - $175 $400 and up
1950 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $115 - $140 $175 and up
1969 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $135 $165 and up
1977 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $130 $150 and up
1990 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $115 $140 and up
2001 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $110 $120 and up
2013 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $100 $102 and up
Need to Know

Prior to 1929, the 100-dollar bill came in a lot of different styles and even a larger size. The large note, sometimes called a "horse blanket," was a bill that measured about 7.42 by 3.1 inches. Today, they tend to be very rare and valuable.

How Rare Are 100-Dollar Bills?

You might be surprised to learn that 100-dollar bills are the most common currency in circulation today. The Federal Reserve estimates that there are 18.5 billion 100-dollar bills out there, many of which are held by banks overseas.

Even though there are a lot of 100-dollar bills, some Benjamins are actually super rare. It's all about the serial numbers, signatures, printing mistakes, and age — plus the all-important factor of condition.

Related: 5 Rare 10-Dollar Bills Worth As Much As Your House

How Much Is a 100-Dollar Bill Worth?

Need to Know

A 100-dollar bill is always worth at least its face value, so that means it's worth at least $100. Very old bills, from the days of large notes, tend to be worth the most. Many pre-1928 100-dollar bills are worth at least $300 in good condition.

There are lots of things to consider when it comes to the value of 100-dollar bills, but these are the big factors we look at in determining what a specific bill might be worth:

  • Older age: If the bill is from before the Federal Reserve standardized the design in 1929, it tends to be rarer and more valuable.
  • Good condition: A bill that hasn't been circulated as much will be worth more than one that's really worn. Look for crisp edges, minimal wrinkles and rips, and sharp printing.
  • Rare serial numbers: Early serial numbers or weird patterns in the number can make the bill worth more than its face value.
  • Signatures: A 100-dollar bill that has a signature on it (not just an engraved name or stamp) tends to be more valuable.
  • Interesting mistakes: Printing mistakes are rare, so if a bill has one, it tends to be worth more.

Related: 5 Rare 20-Dollar Bills Worth as Much as a Used Car

5 Ultra-Rare 100-Dollar Bills

You might not see these super rare C-notes in your bank envelope, but knowing what makes them special can help you spot other valuable bills. These 100-dollar bills are worth money and captivate collectors.

Need to Know

Paper currency is classified with Friedberg numbers, which is a system for labeling the various designs and signature combinations a bill can have. Certain Friedberg numbers are very rare.

$100 1863 Gold Certificate (Fr. 1166c)

1863 Gold Certificate

Only three 1863 $100 gold certificates with Friedberg number 1166c are known to collectors, and two of those are owned by the Smithsonian. In addition to being incredibly rare, this 100-dollar bill is historically important — dating to one of the earliest years paper money was produced in the US. An example in extremely fine condition with both hand signatures and engraved signatures sold for $2,115,000 in 2013.

$100 1882 Gold Certificate (Fr. 1202a)

1882 Gold Certificate

Another bill with only three known examples, the $100 1882 gold certificate with Friedberg classification 1202a is rare and worth some serious money in any condition. It looks almost nothing like what you might expect a 100-dollar bill to look like — with a bright gold reverse and gold accents on the front. In very fine condition, this highly collectible 100-dollar bill sold for $822,500 in 2014.

$100 1878 Silver Certificate (Fr. 337b)

1878 Silver Certificate

There are only four known examples of the $100 1878 silver certificate (Friedberg number 337b), so they are some of the most valuable 100-dollar bills in existence. Even with rare bills like this, condition matters a lot. A very fine example sold for $660,000 in 2018.

$100 1890 Treasury Note (Fr. 377)

1890 Treasury Note Choice New

Affectionately called a "watermelon note" for the shape and color of the 0s on the back of the bill (they look like watermelons), the 1890 100-dollar treasury note (Friedberg number 377) is very rare. Only about 40 examples are known, and most of these are held in collections already. An uncirculated example sold at auction for $356,500 in 2005.

$100 1863 Legal Tender (Fr. 167a)

1863 Legal Tender

Issued the same year as the 1863 $100 gold certificate, the legal tender note isn't quite as rare. Still, only seven uncirculated examples are known for any of the Friedberg numbers, and they are incredibly valuable. One sold for $305,500 in 2013.

Which 100-Dollar Bill Serial Numbers Are Worth the Most?

It would be handy to have a 100-dollar bill serial number lookup tool, but there are too many factors involved in what makes a serial number valuable to make that feasible. These are a few things to look for as you're examining the numbers on your bills.

  • Star notes: A star note is special because there's a star in the serial number. This means the bill is a replacement.
  • Repeats: A series of numbers that repeats in the serial number can be a hot item with collectors.
  • Palindromes: When the serial number is the same backward and forward, it's a palindrome and can be worth more.
  • Low serial numbers: Serial numbers that are low tend to be more valuable, especially if the numbers are really low (meaning they were some of the first bills produced for that year).

Related: How Much Is a 2-Dollar Bill Worth? Value Chart & Rarity Guide

Take Some Time to Check Your Bank Envelope

While you're counting your money at the bank, take a few extra minutes to check for rare 100-dollar bills that might be worth something extra. Even though this is a denomination that's pretty common, the high-value bills are truly treasures.

5 Rare 100-Dollar Bills You Can Retire On