Cold Hard Cash
Explore fun facts about the U.S. currency, plus practical tips for carrying and exchanging cash.

Money Matters

23460561_mMost people use it every day. The dollars folded, the coins piling up in the car and on the dresser. But how often do you stop and think about our currency?

While the Coinage Act of 1792 created the U.S. Mint and established a federal monetary system, the government did not issue paper money until 1861. The practice of putting presidents on bills didn’t come around until the early 1900s.

Other fun money facts include the fact that you can get damaged money replaced as long as you present 51 percent of the note; the pyramid on the back of currency is the reverse side of the Great Seal of the U.S.; the clock is set to 4:10 on the $100 bill; the only female whose portrait has appeared on a currency note was Martha Washington; and Parker Brothers has printed more Monopoly money than the Federal Reserve has issued real money!

In 1929, currency was reduced in size by 30 percent to save money. The 1990s started a series of redesigns to stay ahead of counterfeiters that continues today with recent redesigns including the $100 bill in 2013.

Cash in Today’s World

Fun facts aside, carrying cash has changed a lot since the days before credit and debit cards. While many now use rewards credit cards for most purchases, it’s a good idea to carry some cash since credit cards aren’t accepted everywhere (such as toll booths, some non-chain fast food restaurants, vending machines, etc.). In “How much cash do you carry?” MSN Money reports most readers carry between $10 and $40.

And when it comes to those coins piling up around the house, cash them in without the fees by following these tips.

Currency and Traveling10670764_m

Currency also becomes a key issue when traveling outside the U.S. Here are a few tips:

  • Notify your credit card companies of where you’re traveling and when. Inquire about any associated international transaction fees. If you travel overseas often, consider getting a card without transaction fees.
  • Find out if your bank has international branches or partnerships with banks in the country you’re traveling to that will give you free or low ATM charges. Then, withdraw the money you need once you arrive. This will usually give you a better rate than exchanging money at the airport or elsewhere.
  • Never exchange money on the street.
  • Divide your money and credit cards into multiple safe spots in case one is stolen. Also watch where you keep the money that’s on your person to avoid getting pickpocketed. For more information, read USA Today’s “Best ways to carry money while you travel.”

Once you get that foreign currency, stop to take a look. The artwork and images no doubt have a deep history and rich meaning, just as those that appear on U.S. currency. Don’t forget to take a second glance at the U.S. bills and coins that cross your path too. You may just gain a new appreciation for currency so often used but rarely pondered.


The History of U.S. Currency –

Fun Facts About Money –

Tips for Exchanging Currency Overseas –