Exchanging Damaged Money

Not long ago I wrote about trading in your damaged (or laundered) stamps. As a followup to that post, I thought I’d talk about trading in damaged currency… As it turns out, “any badly soiled, dirty, defaced, disintegrated, limp, torn, or worn out currency note that is CLEARLY MORE than one-half of the original note … should be exchanged through your local bank and processed by the Federal Reserve Bank.”

If, on the other hand, you’ve got less than half of the bill, or it’s in such a condition that the value is unclear, then it’s considered to be “mutiliated, ” and a special examination is required to determine its value. Moreover, mutiliated currency can only be exchanged at face value if the Treasury is convinced that the missing portions have been totally destroyed.

Mutilated currency should be sent to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) along with a letter detailing the estimated value of the currency and describing how it got damaged. The address of the BEP is:

Department of the Treasury
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Office of Currency Standards
P.O. Box 37048
Washington, D.C. 20013

In contrast, fused, melted or otherwise mutilated coins should be sent to:

U.S. Mint
Post Office Box 400
Philadelphia, PA 19105

For more information, drop by the BEP website.

5 Responses to “Exchanging Damaged Money”

  1. Anonymous

    Back in 1995, we suffered a fire that destroyed our new farm, which we had just built. The fire started in our office, where we had $1100 in hundred dollar bills in an envelope in our desk drawer. Almost everything was destroyed, but we were able to find remnants of the money. It’s been in a ziplock baggie ever since. I honestly don’t know if you do anything with badly burned cash, but I recently saw something about your agency on the Today program, and thought it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try. If I try to send it, I’m afraid that it will crumble even more. Is there anywhere in Arkansas that could help me? Thanks so much for your time and effort concerning this matter.

    Becky Robbins

  2. Anonymous

    I used to work at a Federal Reserve Bank office. People would bring in torn bills. Sometimes they were thieves/homeless folk who managed to tear bills out of change machines. Later in the day an irate change machine owner would come in with the other part of the bills.

    BTW – The FRB takes damaged bills and destroys them by the tens of millions. I have a bag of the shredded remains from my old job…

  3. You know, I recall hearing a 40/60 rule in the past, too… However, the info in this post comes straight for the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing web site, so it’s gotta be right.

  4. Anonymous

    I had heard that if you had more than 60% of the original bill you could get a new bill of the same denomination. If you had more than 40% but less than 60% you could get half of the bill’s face value. Maybe your post supersedes this.

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