5 Rare 5-Dollar Bills Worth a Lot of More Than Your Latte

Learn how to spot a valuable 5-dollar bill and understand what it's really worth.

Published March 13, 2024
US dollar bills

It's pretty normal to get a fiver back when you get change, but some rare 5-dollar bills are actually worth a lot more than their face value. Spotting one of these treasures is all about knowing what to look for. Before you use that bill to pay for your slice of pizza, check it for a few rare errors and signs of value.

5-Dollar Bill Value Chart

It's handy to have a quick reference chart to help you see at a glance which fives are worth the most. The value of 5-dollar bills varies depending on their condition, the date the bill was issued, and the seal color (that round stamp on the bill). This chart comes from auction info gathered by USA Currency Auctions about past sales prices of 5-dollar bills. It includes some of the most valuable examples collectors really covet, such as the 1861 5-dollar bill, the 1914 5-dollar bill, and the 1928C 5-dollar bill.

Year Type Size Seal Color Circulated Value Uncirculated Value
1861 Demand Note Large None $1,350 - $3,500 N/A
1862 United States Note Large Red $375 - $900 $2,000 and up
1863 United States Note Large Red $350 - $725 $2,000 and up
1869 United States Note Large Red $450 - $875 $2,500 and up
1870-74 National Gold Bank Note Large Red $1,000 - $8,750 N/A
1886 Silver Certificate Large Red $550 - $2,250 $2,900 and up
1890 Treasury Note Large Red or Brown $440 - $1,600 $2,500 and up
1914 Federal Reserve Note Large Red $200 - $325 $1,400 and up
1928-C Federal Reserve Note Small Green $200 - $650 $1,900 and up
1934 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $7 - $12 $50 and up
1950 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $7 - $10 $18 and up
1981 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $5.25 $6 and up
2009 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $5 $5 and up
2021 Federal Reserve Note Small Green $5 $5 and up
Need to Know

Early 5-dollar bills are what is known as "large notes." They measured about 7.42 by 3.1 inches, and people even gave them the nickname "horse blankets" because of their size. There are very few of these large notes left, so they're rare and collectible.

How Rare Are 5-Dollar Bills?

When it comes to currency, 5-dollar bills are actually really common. There were over 3.5 billion of them in circulation in 2022, according to the Federal Reserve. Still, when you compare that to the 14.1 billion 1-dollar bills in circulation, they don't seem quite as ubiquitous.

To be rare, a 5-dollar bill has to have something different about it. It could be very old, have a printing error, or be extremely difficult to find in uncirculated condition.

Related: How Much Is a 2-Dollar Bill Worth?

How Much Is a 5-Dollar Bill Worth?

Need to Know

5-dollar bills are always worth at least five dollars, but some can be worth thousands. If you have a large note (from 1914 or before), it's likely to be worth at least $200 in good condition. Newer bills can also be valuable, though. Some 5-dollar bills from recent years can be worth a lot if they have early serial numbers and are in uncirculated condition.

If you're looking for a valuable 5-dollar bill (that's worth way more than five dollars), keep an eye out for these factors:

  • Older age - If you have an older bill, especially a large note, it's going to be worth more than a newer one in many cases.
  • Uncirculated condition - A 5-dollar bill that hasn't been circulated will always be worth more than the same bill that has been passed around in people's change.
  • Low or special serial numbers - The serial number on a bill can be a big factor in its value. If it's a low serial number or a palindrome, it may be worth more.
  • Misprints - Certain printing mistakes, such as double-printed words or numbers or seals that aren't in the right place, can be worth more.

Related: Rare Coins Worth Money

Five of the Rarest 5-Dollar Bills to Watch For

While any unusual bill (of any denomination) is always worth a second look, there are a few super valuable ones you need to know about. These rare 5-dollar bills tend to set auction records.

Need to Know

Bills are classified by their Friedberg Number, which is a system to categorize currency with various designs and signature combinations. It lets collectors compare like bills, and some Friedberg Numbers (Fr.) are really rare.

$5 1890 Treasury Note (Fr. 360)

1890 Treasury Note

One of the early large notes, the 1890 Treasury Note is special for a couple of reasons. First, it's super rare. Out of 300,000 bills printed, only 14 are known to survive. Add to that its large size and amazing condition, and it's no wonder a $5 1890 Treasury Note in uncirculated condition fetched $282,000 at auction in 2013.

$5 1861 "For The" Demand Note (Fr. 1a)

1861 For The Demand Note

Not only one of the oldest 5-dollar bills known to exist, the 1861 "for the" bill is also one of the rarest. Early in the history of this bill, registry clerks added hand-written notes of "for the" before the Register of the Treasury and then signed the bills. When the treasury realized this was happening, they started printing the "for the" on the bill itself, and very early examples are worth a lot of money. Only eight 1861 "for the" notes are known to exist, and one in nearly perfect condition sold for $138,000 in 2007.

$5 1914 Blue Seal Federal Reserve Note (Fr. 871a)

1914 Blue Seal Federal Reserve Note

The 1914 Federal Reserve Note (one of the last large notes) tends to be valuable in general, but the blue seal version is ultra rare. Here's why: the red seal was used on all notes until 100,000 were printed at that location, and then the blue seal was used. Only the Chicago and New York locations reached 100,000 bills, and they printed very few blue seals after that. Only two of the number one serial number blue seals exist, and one sold for $115,000 in 2006.

$5 1914 Red Seal Federal Reserve Note (Fr. 843a)

1914 Red Seal Federal Reserve Note

Low serial numbers also matter for the red seal 1914 5-dollar bill. Very few number one bills exist in any year, and there are only 13 red seal 1914 5-dollar bills that were printed in San Francisco. Combining these factors is a recipe for a super high value. A number one serial number red seal 5-dollar bill printed in San Francisco sold for over $109,000 in 2011.

$5 1861 St. Louis Demand Note (Fr. 5)

1861 St. Louis Demand Note

The 1861 Demand Notes were the first paper money printed in the US, so they are always valuable and really rare. They helped to finance the Civil War, so they're also historically important. The St. Louis Demand Notes are the rarest of all. An example in nearly perfect condition sold for $81,000 in 2018.

Which 5-Dollar Bill Serial Numbers Are Valuable?

One of the factors that can affect the value of a 5-dollar bill is the serial number. You'll find it printed as a series of numbers and letters on the front (portrait) side of the bill. Look for these features:

  • Low number - The lower the serial number, the earlier issue the bill was printed. Very low serial numbers can help make even modern bills more valuable.
  • Palindrome - A palindrome, or a serial number that's the same when read forward or backward, can make a 5-dollar bill worth money.
  • Repeated numbers - If the bill has a serial number that repeats, it can be a sign of a valuable piece of currency.
  • Star - A serial number with a star in it is rare and collectible. The star means the bill is a replacement.

Know How to Spot Rare 5-Dollar Bills

Before you use the fiver in your wallet to buy something, take a sec to look at it a little more closely. 5-dollar bills worth money don't have to be super old. Some are just special because of an interesting serial number or a printing mistake. Knowing what to look for can help you make sure you don't pay for your latte with something that's worth a fortune.

5 Rare 5-Dollar Bills Worth a Lot of More Than Your Latte