New $100 Bill Security Features

by Ryan Guina

The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing announced this week they will be updating the $100 bill, which is the most frequently used and circulated form of US currency outside of the US. This is the first update to the $100 bill since 1996 and the latest in a series of updates to other US notes, including the new $5 bill, $10 bill, $20, and $50. The new $100 bill is not expected to go into circulation until February 2011.

Fun fact: an estimated 2/3 of all $100 bills in circulation are used outside the United States. It is also the most frequently counterfeited US bill outside the US (the $20 bill is the most frequently counterfeited bill within the US).

New $100 Bill Security Features

The new $100 bills are the most advanced bills the US has produced to date. Visit the interactive notes page at for a hands on view of the new $100 bill. Or check out the new features here:

3-D Security Ribbon. There is a blue security ribbon that runs vertically through the new $100 bill. When the bill is tilted, the ribbon alternates between showing 100s and the Liberty Bell. When the bill is tilted from side to side they move up and down and when the bill is tilted back and forth they move side to side.

Bell in the inkwell. The new $100 bill features color shifting ink. The inkwell in the bottom right of the bill has a Liberty Bell embedded in it and both appear to be copper color from the front. As you shift the bill, the Liberty Bell appears to change to a green color and the inkwell remains a copper color, making it seem as though the bell is disappearing.

Additional security features on new $100 bill

  • Portrait watermark. There is currently a watermark on the $100 bill. This can be seen on both sides of the bill.
  • Embedded security thread. This is different from the new 3-D security thread which is located to the right of the portrait. This security thread is located left of the portrait and is similar to the current security thread. It glows pink under UV light.
  • Color shifting 100. Located in the bottom right corner, the color shifting ink changes from copper to green in color, similar to the bell in the inkwell.
  • Large 100 on reverse side. The large 100 on the reverse side of the bill will help those with some visual impairments. I didn’t see it mentioned anywhere, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the 100 features microprinting.
  • Microprinting. There are multiple placements of microprinting on the new bill; these are difficult to forge.
  • Raised printing. The new $100 bills feature an enhanced intaglio printing technique that results in raised printing, giving the bill a unique texture.

Here is a video from the U.S. Currency channel on YouTube:

What do you think about the new $100 bill?

images courtesy of

Published or updated December 29, 2011.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jersey Mom

It certainly looks very different. I hope it succeeds in deterring counterfeiting… at least for awhile.


2 Financial Samurai

When will they make a $200 or $500 bill already? $100 bills are too small!


3 Ryan

To my knowledge the US Treasury Department has never printed a $200 bill, but there have been $500 bills in circulation. They were infrequently used, however, and were removed from circulation. They are big collector’s items now and fetch a substantial markup over their face value.

That said, I don’t know what kind of market there would be for a $500 bill in the US. I’m sure it would be big overseas (where the majority of $100 bills circulate), but it would also be another target for counterfeiters and an instrument of exchange for drug dealers and arms dealers. I’m not sure it’s worth adding it to the circulation at this point.


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