U.S. $500 Dollar Bills Do Exist! | $500 Bill Value and History 

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$500 Dollar Bills 

Is there really a 500 dollar bill? You would be right to be skeptical, but the answer is yes. 

Over the years, several versions of the U.S. $500 bill have been in circulation within the United States. 

Today, these notes are highly valuable collector’s items that are worth keeping an eye out for. In this post, I will share the history of the $500 bill, explain who is on the $500 dollar bill, tell you how much a $500 bill is worth and much more.

The U.S. $500 bill is one of the rarest large denomination bills ever created. First printed in 1780, it was one of a small number of large denomination U.S. bills in existence, with the others being the $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, and $100,000 dollar bills.

Although the $500 bill was taken out of circulation in 1969, it is still considered legal tender and can be used in day-to-day transactions. However, I’d strongly recommend against doing so, because its value as a collector’s item far exceeds $500. Here is some more information on this popular collectible currency.

Are $500 dollar bills real?

The History Of The U.S. $500 Bill

The first $500 note produced was actually a confederate $500 dollar bill. It was issued in May of 1780, in the Province of North Carolina. Virginia also produced a confederate $500 note in the same year.

High denomination notes became very common amongst confederate states during the war of 1812 and the Civil War. The primary reason being how much easier it was to purchase war supplies with large denominations.

The first $500 note in the Federal banknote period appeared in 1861, after being authorized by Congress. These notes were essentially Treasury Notes (a short term loan to the government), as they had a three-year interest-bearing period. Most $500 notes printed in this era remained in the hands of banks and were rarely used by the general public.

The final $500 bill was a Federal Reserve note issued in 1934. This note, featuring a portrait of President William McKinley, remains the most common $500 note held by collectors.

In July 1969, the Federal Government discontinued all high-denomination bills being printed at the time. This included the $500 dollar bill, $1,000 dollar bill, $5,000 dollar bill, $10,000 dollar bill, and $100,000 dollar bill. The government began to take them out of circulation at this point due to lack of usage.  

Although the $500 dollar bill remains legal tender today, they are collectible items that are worth more than face value.

The U.S. $500 Bill Series

There have been many versions of the $500 bill printed over the years. However, many are so rare that you will rarely see them listed for sale. The $500 notes that most collectors are likely to encounter include:

1882 $500 Gold Certificate

Year:  1882
Denomination:  Five Hundred Dollar Bill
Type:  Gold Certificate

Portrait:  Abraham Lincoln

This is a large size bill that is highly popular with collectors due to its interesting design. Despite its rarity, it is still “relatively” affordable, with some notes being available for a few thousand dollars. However, the rarest 1882 $500 Gold Certificate notes often fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The value of this note will depend on its condition along with its seal type and signature combination. You can find several different combinations of seal type, signature, and serial number, so it is important to have your note properly valued before selling it. 

1882 $500 gold certificates were printed for many years, which makes them the most common large format, high denomination note. For this reason, you can find them in many online stores.

1918 $500 Federal Reserve Note

Year:  1918
Denomination:  Five Hundred Dollar Bill
Type:  Federal Reserve Note

Portrait:  John Marshall

This is a well-known note amongst collectors, because of its attractive design and relative affordability. The most common variations of the 1918 Federal Reserve Note can be purchased for a few thousand dollars, so it’s one of the most attainable large-format notes.

It is considered attractive because of the unique back design, which features Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto discovering the Mississippi. A circulated 1918 Federal Reserve Note can go for anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000 depending on condition. Uncirculated bills can easily exceed the $10,000 mark.

1922 $500 Gold Certificate

Year:  1922
Denomination:  Five Hundred Dollar Bill
Type:  Gold Certificate

Portrait:  Abraham Lincoln

The 1922 $500 Gold Certificate resembles the 1882 $500 bill. In fact, they look so similar that most people will need to check the date on the note to determine if it is an 1882 or 1922 note. 

There were no varieties or star notes in the 1922series, so they are priced according to condition. You can find circulated 1922 $500 Gold Certificate bills starting at $5,000. Uncirculated bills will cost over $10,000.

1928 $500 Gold Certificate

Year:  1928
Denomination:  Five Hundred Dollar Bill
Type:  Gold Certificate

Portrait:  William McKinley

1928 was the last year that the United States printed gold certificate notes. It is estimated that the government made 420,000 1928 five hundred dollar gold certificates, which is one of the highest print runs of $500 bills.

Again, there are no variations or star notes in this series, so the condition of the bill will determine its value. However, notes that have a serial number lower than 100 often command a premium. Prices for circulated notes will be between $2,000 and $10,000 based on their condition. Uncirculated notes are worth about $15,000.

1928 $500 Federal Reserve Note

Year:  1928
Denomination:  Five Hundred Dollar Bill
Type:  Federal Reserve Note

Portrait:  William McKinley

Despite these notes saying “redeemable in gold on demand”, they are not gold certificates. They have a similar look to the 1934 Federal Reserve note, which is the most common $500 note that was released a few years later, so people sometimes confuse the two.

There are several factors that determine the value of this note. They include its condition, serial number, seal color, and bank of origin. Twelve banks issued this note, with three printing a seal with a lighter green color. These light green notes will sell for a premium. Notes with a low serial number, note with a star symbol in the serial, and notes issued from Boston will also have more value.

A common circulated 1928 five hundred dollar bill will be worth at least $1,000. Uncirculated bills will be worth several thousand dollars. Notes that have a light-colored seal, a star symbol, or low serial number, will be worth at least $1,500 and potentially over $10,000 for the right combination.

1934 $500 Federal Reserve Note

Year:  1934
Denomination:  Five Hundred Dollar Bill
Type:  Federal Reserve Note

Portrait:  William McKinley

With almost two million printed, this is the most common $500 bill issued in what the United States. There are still about 150,000 of these notes in existence, making it relatively easy to find one at an affordable price. 

There were two series created, the 1934 federal reserve note series and the 1934A federal reserve note series. Factors that can influence the cost of these bills include the color of the seal (light green seals sell for more), the condition, and the presence of star symbols in the serial number.

A circulated note 1934 $500 Federal Reserve Note typically sells for between $600 to $1,500 based on condition. Uncirculated notes can reach $2,000. Star notes usually start at $1,500 and can reach several thousand dollars based on condition.

How much is a 500 dollar bill worth?

The $500 dollar bill value.

All collectible currency is valued based on its:

  • Rarity
    The rarity is determined by how much of the currency was created and how much remains around today. Old bills and bills that have misprints or special markings are usually rarer. For example, a note with a star symbol in its serial number is often worth more.
  • Demand
    The demand of a bill is based on how popular and easily available it is. If a $500 bill is extremely scarce and very popular, demand will be through the roof. Demand can also vary based on where a buyer is.
  • Condition
    The condition of the bill will have a huge impact on its price. Bills are usually graded from best to worst as uncirculated, about uncirculated, extremely fine, very fine, fine, very good, good, fair, and poor. Read more about how currency valuation here.

To give you an example, an 1882 $500 Gold Certificate in fine condition would be worth much more than a 1934 $500 Federal Reserve Note in good condition because: 

  • It is rarer (less 1882 bills still exist today and many more bills were printed in the 1934 series)
  • There is more demand (the large size 1882 gold bill is a much more appealing bill to collectors)
  • It is in better condition

The different rarity, demand, and condition of notes mean that the value of a $500 bill can vary greatly. However, in general terms: 

  • 1882 $500 Gold Certificate
    A very rare bill that costs several thousand dollars. The rarest 1882 $5000 Gold Certificates can go for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • 1918 $500 Federal Reserve Note
    Circulated 1918 Federal Reserve Notes usually sell for between $5,000 to $10,000. Uncirculated bills can easily exceed the $10,000 mark.
  • 1922 $500 Gold Certificate
    Circulated 1922 $500 Gold Certificate bills start at $5,000. Uncirculated bills will cost over $10,000.
  • 1928 $500 Gold Certificate
    Circulated notes will be between $2,000 and $10,000 based on their condition. Notes with a star in their serial number can be worth over $10,000 and uncirculated notes are worth about $15,000. Star notes that are uncirculated can be worth much more.
  • 1928 $500 Federal Reserve Note
    Circulated 1928 five hundred dollar bills are worth at least $1,000. Uncirculated bills are worth several thousand dollars. Bills with a light-colored seal, a star symbol, or low serial number, will be worth at least $1,500 with the right combination being worth over $10,000.
  • 1934 $500 Federal Reserve Note
    Circulated 1934 $500 Federal Reserve Notes will sell for between $600 to $1,500 based on condition. Uncirculated notes can reach $2,000. Star notes usually start at $1,500 and can reach several thousand dollars based on condition.

Commonly Asked Questions About The $500 Bill

Why isn’t my $500 bill isn’t in the list?

The list above includes the 6 most common $500 bills. It doesn’t include many confederate or very rare notes. If you have a $500 bill not included here, you may have a very rare note on your hand and should have it professionally appraised.

Where can I buy a $500 dollar bill?

The rarity and uniqueness of the $500 bill make it quite the collector’s item. It’s not something that you are likely to find at your local pawnbroker or antique store. For very old $500 bills, you would need to contact a currency dealer or auction house.

Why doesn’t the U.S. print $500 bills anymore?

We can’t be certain why the U.S. government doesn’t print large bills anymore.  While they claim it is due to these notes not being used very often, it may also be related to their use in money laundering, drug dealing, smuggling, and other criminal activities.

Who Is On The $500 Bill?

What president is on the $500 dollar bill?

There were several different series of the 500 dollar bill printed, with the portraits on different people featured them. However, the most common series of $500 notes (printed in 1928 and 1934) features an image of President William McKinney on the front. The 1882 and 1922 gold certificate bills feature a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln.

Are misprinted $500 bills worth more?

Absolutely. Given the rarity of the $500 bill, a significant printing error would make the piece quite valuable.

What types of $500 bills were issued?

There have been a surprisingly high number of different $500 bill released. Some of the different types of bills issues have included banknotes, treasury notes, gold certificates, silver certificates, federal reserve notes, various types of interest bearing notes, and legal tenders. Part of the fun of collecting $500 bills is obtaining the many types of rare notes and certificates. 

What was the most valuable $500 note sold for?

There have been a several $500 notes which have sold for more than half a million dollars. These are extremely rare notes that belong in the hands of wealthy collectors and museums. 

But the most expensive $500 note is an 1869 $500 “rainbow” note with a portrait of the U.S. President John Quincy Adams. It is estimated to be worth around $2.5 million. 

“Rainbow” notes are given that name because they are more colorful than other notes printed around that time. The paper these notes are printed on contains a series of fibers of blue and other colors. They were printed this was as an anti-counterfeiting measure. Although about 90,000 of these bills were printed, only three are still known to exist.

If you are looking for some other bills to collect, check out the 1976 $2 dollar bill and the 1950 $20 bill.