Value of Old $500 Bills
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Old $500 bills can be worth anywhere between $550 to $1,600 depending on its condition. As shown in our guide, some $500 bills can be worth a lot more.
One of the most valuable $500 bills we’ve ever purchased was a 1928 $500 star note in uncirculated (no folds) condition.
We’ve been dealing and collecting with collectible paper money for over 2 decades now and consider ourselves to be the strongest high denomination buyers across the entire United States.
$500 Bill Value Table
|Series||Seal||Average Condition||Unc||Unc Star|
|1928||Green||$550 – $800||$1,300||$2,000|
|1934||Green||$550 – $700||$1,000||$1,500|
|1934A||Green||$550 – $700||$1,000||$1,500|
While we consider ourselves to be particularly specialized in high denomination bank notes, ($500, $1,000, $5,000, & $10,000 … yes they exist!) we take pride in having cast our net wide enough to have a strong understanding of market values for all types of paper money.
Whether your bill has a red seal (Legal Tender), blue seal (Silver Certificate), gold seal (Gold Certificate), or green seal (Federal Reserve Note) we are here to help make sure you become educated about high denomination paper money.
With all this being said, you may still be unsure of how to get started. We know from a fresh perspective these concepts and “currency lingo” can be a little intimidating at first, and that’s why we’ve created this guide.
Disclaimer: Do not fall victim to selling your valuable collection to a local pawn or coin shop that will rob for what your paper money is really worth. Contact a paper money expert before selling any currency you own.
History of your $500 Bill
Before we begin, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the factors which determine the value of your $500 bill. To get the most money for your five hundred dollar bill, if you’re like me, you’ll want to educate yourself a little bit before.
If you don’t want to spend the time, you can always send us a picture of your bill and we’ll give you an exact value.
I’m a huge history nerd… I completely nerd-out when it comes to the history behind old paper money. I truly love what I do.
The First United States $500 Bill
The first $500 bill ever printed was in May of 1780 by the Province of North Carolina.
This was during the midst of the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) so you can only imagine what stressors were being dealt with whilst printing paper money.
If you have something similar to what’s pictured above, I’ll tell you right now your bill is more than likely fake.
Counterfeiters during the late 1700s were a dime-a-dozen. The ability to fake one of these bills was easy. A lot of what we see today is modern replica money.
A year later, Virginia issued its first $500 bill, making it the second five hundred printed in the United States.
More high-denomination bills were issued during the War of 1812 and during the Civil War as Confederate Currency.
Confederate $500 bills are also highly counterfeited, once again, due to a severe lack of security features.
Security features like we have today, watermarks, color-changing ink (AKA Optically variable ink), security threads, microprint, etc. have made counterfeiting notes today near impossible. Fake notes look pretty obviously fake, but we’ll get more into spotting fakes a bit later in this post.
The picture above is a genuine example of a Confederate $500 bill from 1864.
If the serial number of your note is 393, 9229, 14682, 16599, 16760, 18278, 18935, 19834, 21130, 26326, 26949, 33546, 36776, 67935, or 82210 then you have a reproduction.
Reproductions have no value. Please do not contact us if you have a reproduction.
Next came the Federal Reserve printing period, which began in 1861, when Congress authorized the issuance of $500 bills.
The next bill is one of my favorite high denomination bills, the 1882 $500 Gold Certificate note.
If you have a $500 Gold Certificate, as shown above, you have an easy five-figure bill. Gold certificates were once tradable for gold at a local bank.
The bill above would get you the equivalent of $500 in gold. Nowadays you cannot get gold, but you can get a nice paycheck from a currency collector like myself.
Keep in mind, these are Large Size notes meaning they’re much larger than the paper money in your wallet. The bill above is a pretty rare $500 1918 FRN.
These used to bring strong money in the market, now day’s they still constantly bring low five figures depending on condition and issuing district.
The picture above is a Small Size high-denomination $500 Gold Certificate. 1928 was the year the Federal Reserve started to transition into the new dimension banknotes we know very well today.
From this date forward, all $500 bills you’ll see will have a portrait of President William McKinley front and center. Gold certificate $500s were only issued for this single year, making them a true rarity in the paper money market.
Very similar to the gold certificate, the image above is a green seal Federal Reserve $500 bill. These come with an ink color that is “light-green” and “dark-green” seal and serial numbers.
The light-green types always bring more money in the marketplace. Send us a picture of your bill so we can better examine it.
If your $500 bill has a Star at the end of the serial number, expect to get 2-4 times more money for your note, regardless of condition.
What does the star mean?
Star notes, AKA replacement notes, were issued during the printing process if a sheet of notes had a major flaw or didn’t meet quality control standards.
The faulty sheet would be immediately destroyed, and a star sheet would be printed with replacement serial numbers.
The bill above looks a little rough, with McKinleys portrait smudged heavily. That shouldn’t bother you much, as we’ve paid upwards of $32,000 for a bill like this.
Consider us serious buyers.
There isn’t much difference between these FRN $500s outside of the date, 1934. The later dated $500 bills aren’t typically worth as much as the earlier dated ones, but don’t let that deter you.
A high-grade $500 1934 bill can be worth a lot more than a low-grade $500 from 1928.
Quick Tip: These bills are legal tender, meaning you can bring them to the bank and get $500. These bills, in better condition, have collector value and bring much more than their face value.
The last type of $500 the Federal Reserve issued was the 1934A. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, High denomination banknotes were officially discontinued by the Federal Reserve System in July of 1969.
These $500s were being pulled from circulation and destroyed by the Federal Reserve.
A major factor contributing to the decision to stop printing high denoms was how easy these big bills made money laundering. The higher the denomination, the easier it was to push and transfer money around illegally.
How to Grade Your Currency
Now, its time to understand a major factor when determining the value of a bill.
The grade, or condition, is typically based on a 70-point numerical scale derived from the internationally recognized Sheldon grading scale.
Paper Money Guaranty defines a 70 as “having no evidence of handling visible at 5x magnification. Notes graded 70 must also qualify for the PMG Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) and PMG Star (*) Designations.”
The Grading Scale
The highest grade possible is Gem Uncirculated, this means there is very little handling and absolutely no folds that go into the design of the bill.
Another factor when determining value is how equal the margins are overall.
A nice looking $500 bill with no folds and equal margins all around will always bring more money in the marketplace.
The above image is a perfect example of a $500 bill that has no folds but has poor margins. This all happens during the printing process.
In an ideal world, all bills would be printed equally and perfect… with perfect margins and no flaws.
This, however, is not the case. A poorly centered bill, uncirculated or not, takes away from the banknotes overall eye-appeal and should always be taken into consideration when evaluating high denomination $500 bills.
Regardless of the grade or appearance, we buy all five hundred dollar bills. Contact us today if you have paper money you want to sell.
Don’t be fooled, the picture above may look uncirculated but it’s not.
This $500 bill from 1928 was graded PMG 58, meaning it’s About Uncirculated (AU). Banknotes that are AU have a single fold that crosses the design somewhere on the note. Centering of the margins is still a value factor even on AU paper money.
This is a reason why Third Party Grading companies, like PMG, are so important to this hobby.
If you send me a picture of a $500 bill you want to sell, it can be difficult to tell the exact grade from a photo.
But don’t worry, there are ways around this if you were selling your raw banknote to a paper money expert online.
Let us know if you have a paper money collection you want to sell.
You can start to see a difference in quality once the grade gets into Extremely Fine (XF). $500 bills that are XF, numerically 40 or 45, typically have at least two to three heavy folds, one of which may be horizontal.
Seen in the picture above you can see a heavy center fold, the top right corner tip is missing and also lightly stained. These are all value factors for all paper money currency.
High denomination $500 currency will typically show more signs of handling, and be lower grade. This is due to their popularity among the public.
Along with that, banks would often use High denoms to transfer money between banks, since you would need to transfer less paper from one bank to another.
All of the above $500 bills are not typical, you don’t normally see them in XF or higher grades.
Very fine (VF) five hundred dollar bills will be lightly circulated and may have signs of light soiling. Numerically, a VF bill will be graded 20, 25, 30, or 35.
The above picture is a perfect example of just that. These $500s will typically have seven to ten folds.
How well the margins are centered plays into the high denoms overall eye appeal which influences the price.
Most $500s we buy look just like this, and we can pay the most competitive price for these. Collectors typically don’t want to spend thousands of dollars for a five hundred, so a VF graded bill is often a sweet price point for many.
A banknote in Fine (F) condition will look similar to the $500 bill pictured above. These high denomination bills show evidence of considerable circulation with rounded corners, splits between the margins and other issues.
For a note to be graded fine it will be whole with solid paper. Numerically fine notes will be graded 12 or 15.
We love buying low grade $500 bills from collectors around the United States.
Most five hundreds we see are lower grades like this due to their long-time spent in circulation. It’s not unheard of for some collectors even to this day to carry these around in their wallets as pocket pieces.
Many people think $500 bills are fake or don’t exist. Counterfeit high denoms are very rare and seldom do we come across them.
When we do, its very easy to spot. Send us a clear picture, front and back, of your $500 and we will take a closer look.
Despite being called Very Good (VG) these $500 bills typically don’t look very… good. OK OK… let’s just say VG notes tend to have more character than higher grade examples.
$500 bills in this grade always have a lot of circulation. The high denom may feel limp and have a number of different problems. Soiling, stains, splits, tears and paper pulls are all common for the grade.
Some collectors really enjoy collecting beat up $500 bills, that’s just their thing, and we know who they are.
Ouch… a $500 bill graded Good (G) will look something like this. The note will be very worn with some serious splits, fraying of the margins and damage. Ink and stains are typical. The $500 will look poor and it’s paper very limp.
You may be wondering if we would buy a high denomination $500 in this poor of condition… the answer is most definitely YES.
How do I see if my note has folds?
Third-party professional grading companies, like PMG & PCGS, focus solely on doing this for their customers. They essentially grade the note, put it in a clear holder, with a label that explains the details of the bill.
This takes the guesswork out of seeing a raw note (no holder) and not being sure if its an XF or Uncirculated.
The difference between XF, AU, or UNC can literally be hundreds, if not thousands (at times) dollars.
While lower-graded $500 bills are easier to determine the grade from a picture; high-graded $500 bills are much different.
Some bills are pressed, making folds extremely difficult to see in poorly lit rooms.
If you have a $500 bill you’re interested in selling, or want to know its value, send us a picture and we’ll be glad to help.
Whatever you do, don’t bring your collection to a pawn shop or coin dealer who doesn’t know its true value. Contact a paper money expert to get the most for your collection.
Rare Varieties & Types of $500s
Let’s discuss the types of $500 dollar bills. High denomination five hundred dollar bills come in many types attached to many different values.
The majority of $500 notes we see are small size high denomination notes from 1928 or 1934. These are considered the most common type and is likely the type of $500 you have in your hands.
The color of the seal is a pretty big determining factor when we are offering to buy a high denomination currency collection.
Light Green vs Dark Green Seals
If you’re trying to figure out the difference between light and dark green seal $500 bills we are here to help.
Sometimes determining the difference between the two can be almost impossible due to a transition phase between the two.
Light green seals were only printed for a small period of time, making all light green seals, regardless of denomination, rare.
High denomination light green seals are the pinnacle for $500 dollar bills. Most were destroyed or pulled out of circulation before too many were stored away in collections.
You also have to remember that $500 in the 1900s was a lot of money, not many people could casually keep this quantity of cash stowed away as a collectible.
According to this calculator, in 1928, a $1 bill had the equivalent of $14.52 in 2019
So… what is the difference between Light Green and Dark Green seals?
Light green seals come with an almost lime yellow-green color to both serial numbers and seal. Light green seals can come from any district.
The five hundred above is a dark green seal. The difficult part sometimes is the more transitional colors where the color falls somewhere in between the two $500s shown above.
If you need help determining whether you have a light green or dark green seal high denomination bill, please send us an image and we will help determine its value.
Light & Dark Green Seal Value: The value difference between light and dark green can sometimes easily be double. For example, we paid $3,000 for the dark green seal pictured above and for the light green we paid $8,250.
These two high denoms are a perfect example of why it’s important to get your currency collection appraised before bringing it to your local bank or coin dealer.
Sometimes something as small as a star on your note can be the difference between five and six figures.
$500 Star Notes
Star notes were issued during the printing process if a sheet of notes had a major flow or didn’t meet quality control standards.
The fact is when the BEP was printing high denomination notes they typically weren’t making mistakes. There simply aren’t many $500 star notes in collectors’ hands.
When trying to figure a value for your bill, regardless of its condition, star notes are worth significantly more in the market.
You may be thinking… “Gosh, that’s an ugly looking bill.” Yeah, I agree with you.
But the market is the market and this exact bill above we paid $32,000 back in 2015. We’ve paid more for other examples, it all really comes down to the following:
- Eye Appeal
- Market Demand
- Issuing District (The letter on the Left Side of the Bill)
We’ve been collecting, buying and selling specifically high denomination $500 bills for over 25 years now. We’re known hands down as the most competitive buyers of exactly this type of currency.
If you have or know someone interested in selling their $500 bill, contact us today. We love what we do and would enjoy talking to you about your currency collection.
Low Serial Numbers
Low serial numbers almost always demand a premium in the currency marketplace. Sheets of $500 bills were printed, starting with Serial Number 1 at the top of the sheet.
The first few five hundred dollar bills printed with low serials numbers were typically given to a district treasurer or secretary of the state.
This means they were stored away and not typically seen in collectors’ hands. Anything under serial number 101 is typically considered to be low serial numbers. The star note pictured above is a perfect example.
The $500 pictured above is a real double-whammy. Not only is it a low serial number, Serial Number 2, but its also a Light Green Seal.
If you have a high denomination note that’s a low serial number and a better light green seal color, you have a true rarity.
Fancy Serial Number $500 Bills
Fancy Serial Number $500 bills come in many different forms. These high denoms typically bring a little more demand, but not as much demand as Low Serial Numbers.
Technically, a Low Serial Number would also fall into the category of Fancy Serial Number.
Some examples of Fancy Serial Numbers:
Most types of more recognized fancy serial numbers have a certain name. For example, if you have a serial number that only has 1’s and 0’s, people typically call this a Binary Serial Number.
If your $500 has ascending serial numbers (12345678) these are called Ascending Ladder Serial Numbers. The list goes on!
What’s important is knowing your fancy serial number high denomination may bring more money in the market because of this.
The high denomination $500 pictured above doesn’t necessarily fall into a specific category of Fancy Serial Number, but it is unique in the sense it has many 0’s and 25 dead-center. L00025000A.
It’s a pretty unique serial number and you can assume it would bring at least a few hundred extra dollars to its overall value.
If you’re uncertain about your high denomination and if it has a fancy serial number send us a picture and we’ll help you determine its value.
Error or Misprinted $500 Dollar Bills
I’ve seen many Error Notes through my years of collecting and I guarantee that high denomination notes have the least amount of errors on them.
Not many $500 bills were printed, to begin with, and on top of that, quality control was more important for these high denominations.
The higher the number of notes printed and being pushed out into circulation (into the publics’ hands) the more likelihood of there being misprinted banknotes.
The $500 Error pictured above is considered minor and won’t bring much more value to the bill.
High denomination error notes are rare, and they are usually minor. $500 bills also oftentimes come with teller stamp ink on them.
It can be difficult to determine if the ink on a bill is as made, from the BEP, or if it was added (purposefully or not) after it left the BEP.
If you need help determining if your $500 bill is an error note send us a clear picture and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.
Help… is my $500 fake?
Good news, I’ll start by saying your $500 bill is likely real. If it’s fake, it’s worth $0. We’ve handled literally tens of thousands of high denomination $500 bills.
We have seen nearly every single fake counterfeit $500 bill under the sun.
For us, they are pretty easy to point out, even from images over a computer screen. We have worked for and with some of the best counterfeit paper money detecting experts in the industry for decades.
While it may be second nature for us to spot them out, we wanted to take some time and put together this guide to help you spot fake $500 bills and better educate yourself.
If your $500 bill is any/all of the following, your bill is fake:
- It’s laminated
- It’s black/white
- It feels like printer paper
- It’s smaller than paper money today
- It’s much bigger than paper money today
This is also one of the main reasons why the United States stopped printing $500 dollar bills, they didn’t want people to counterfeit them. This goes for any country in the world today that still prints paper money.
High denomination currency is typically the most highly counterfeited money in the world. The idea is the bigger you make the money, the easier it is to transport large quantities without detection.
$500 bills from 1900 and earlier have a higher chance of being a forgery. If you need help please send us a picture and we’d gladly determine the authenticity of your high denomination $500 bill.
Selling your $500 Bill
1. Snap a Photo
(Send us a clear photo of your paper money)
2. Get a Price
(We will make you an offer straight away!)
(We pay you!)
An old $500 bill has been given to you from a friend or passed down from a family member and you don’t really care to keep it. You’d much rather have money in your bank account.
The absolute worst thing you could do is bring your $500 bill to a local bank. They will give you its face value of $500. The reality is high denomination $500 bills are typically worth $750, if not more.
Find a Paper Money Expert
Paper money experts are different than your typical local Pawn or Coin shop.
Most experts are collectors themselves and truly love the hobby as a whole. Almost all local shops are almost required to rip-off the people they’re buying from.
They do it in order to pay for renting a big building and having multiple employees.
I’ve been collecting coins and paper money almost my entire life. I have a secured, private office where I deal only with certain customers after setting up an appointment.
I don’t have a walk-in, public shop. We have low overhead costs which allow us to pay top dollar for high denomination paper money. If you ever want to meet for a local deal, we are located in St. Johns, FL.
Safely Shipping your $500 Bill
We insure all packages that come in and go out of our office. If you follow our easy shipping and packing instructions and the package somehow gets lost in the mail, no worries, our insurance will cover it.
Payment is sent via PayPal or checks when you sell your high denomination $500 bills to us. Once we receive the package we verify the banknotes and send your payment the same or next day.
We have satisfied thousands of customers who have shipped us their $500 bills.
We Buy Old Currency
There currently isn’t anyone who can offer more money for your old $500 bills than us. Why?
We don’t have to pay hundreds of employees like others. This allows us to pay you more money than anyone else. We want to buy your old paper money collections and I assure you’ll be satisfied dealing with us. We’ve made the process extremely simple, contact us today we’d love to chat.
Old Money Prices
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Old Money Prices is very friendly and helpful. She helped determine the value of my currency collection and the best way to go about selling it! She has a large wealth of information regarding $500 bills. They also gave me more money for my $500 bill than I could have got anywhere locally. It was a pleasure dealing with you and will come back to you for any other currency-related sales.
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We get hundreds of frequently asked questions each week via calls, emails, and text messages.
Before contacting us, we wanted to answer any basic questions you have about your antique $500 bill.
If you don’t see your question below or are interested in selling your $500 note to us, feel free to contact us today.
Old $500 Bill Questions
Who Is Pictured On The $500 Bill?: William McKinley was pictured on all 1928 and 1934 $500 dollar bills. Different men were pictured on earlier large size five hundred dollar bank notes.
Why Don’t I See My $500 Bill In Your Price Guide?: Our price guide only shows the more common $500 bills that most people encounter. We aren’t including $500 large size bills in this guide due to their extreme rarity. If you have a five hundred dollar bill that’s not pictured in our guide, we highly recommend sending us a picture of it. That is the only way we’re able to identify and determine its value for you.
What Is An Error $500 Bill Worth?: Misprinted, or error, $500 bills are extremely scarce and when they do appear, the errors are super minor. I’ve never seen a dramatic $500 bill error, they likely don’t exist due to the strict quality control and small number of high denomination $500s printed. We wrote a bit more in-depth about $500 bill errors in a section located above. Error $500 bills typically bring a small premium above their normal value.
What Is A Five Hundred Dollar Bill Star Note?: We wrote a more in-depth section on star notes above. In short, they’re $500 bills that have a star symbol instead of the letter A at the end of the serial number. These bills have a bigger premium over the regular issued high denomination $500 bills. Star notes are scarce, especially from 1928.
What Is The Most Common Large Size $500 Bill?: Large size $500 bills aren’t common, to begin with, but you are most likely to see 1914 $500 federal reserve notes and 1922 $500 gold certificate bills. The value of these can be as little as a few thousand dollars. Better graded examples can bring $10,000 or more. Contact us with a picture if you need help determining the value of your $500 bill.
How Much Is A $500 Bill Worth?: The quick answer is anywhere from most five hundred dollar bills will be worth $650 to $750. Some are only worth $500 if they’re in very poor condition. In very rare instances your $500 bill could be worth close to $100,000. It depends upon multiple factors including condition, issuing district, eye appeal, market demand, scarce varieties, and more.
Can I Get A $500 Bill From The Bank?: Technically, yes. Realistically speaking, you will never get a $500 bill from the bank. I’ve befriended many bank tellers over the years and sometimes a person will bring in a $500 bill to the bank. But there’s never a time a bank teller will hand a customer a five hundred dollar bill, simply because they’re almost always worth more than their face value.
How Do I Know My $500 Is Real?: We touched on forgery $500 bills earlier in the guide. Essentially there are multiple factors that help determine the authenticity of your $500 bill. To learn more, find the section above that talks more in-depth about counterfeit $500s.
Why Doesn’t The U.S. Print $500 Bills Anymore?: Many countries still print $500 bills today. Europe is one of them. One of the main reasons the U.S. doesn’t print high denomination banknotes anymore is due to the ease of smuggling, drug dealing, and other illegal actions. High denomination bills simply make it easier for criminal activity to occur. Counterfeiting is always a concern when countries print high denomination banknotes. The bigger the bill, the easier it is to transport large quantities without detection.
What Do Counterfeit $500 Bills Look Like?: $500 bills that are black/white, laminated, smaller than typical paper money today, much larger than typical paper money today, are all going to be fake. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Please send us a picture if you want your $500 to be authenticated.
What Is The Most Expensive Five Hundred Dollar Bills?: There are only a few $500 bills that have sold for over half a million dollars. Keep your expectations low because the chance you have one of these bills is one in a million. Your general five hundred will be worth about $750. However, there are always exceptions. Contact us for more information.