New $100 Bill Design Fights Counterfeiting with Enhanced Security

by Darrin Lee Unser on April 22, 2010 · 6 comments

Completing an extensive redesign of American currency, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s (BEP) new $100 bill takes aim at counterfeiters around the world with a goal to stop them in their tracks.

New $100 Bill (Front)

The new Benjamin Franklin note was unveiled Wednesday for the first time by top officials from the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Secret Service and the Federal Reserve

The banknote contains several security features designed to combat counterfeiting. The first and most notable change is a blue 3-D Security Ribbon found on the front. The ribbon contains micro-images of bells and 100s that switch back and forth as the note is tilted.

To the side of a larger Benjamin Franklin is another security feature, the "Bell in the Inkwell," which utilizes an inkwell that changes color from copper to green as the note is tilted. This action causes the image of the Liberty Bell to appear and disappear.

The new front also contains phrases from the Declaration of Independence and the quill the Founding Fathers used to sign this historic document. Both are located to the right of Franklin.

The back of the $100 features a larger image of Independence Hall that portrays the rear instead of the front of the building. "100" also appears larger and in a gold color font.

New $100 Bill (Back)

Even though work on the $100 note is completed, an educational period lasting almost 10 months is planned before its release on February 10, 2011.

Treasury officials will introduce the redesigned $100 to financial personnel from around the world, preparing them to not only recognize and accept it, but to also detect $100 counterfeits that lack the enhanced security changes.


"The new security features announced today come after more than a decade of research and development to protect our currency from counterfeiting," said Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios.

"To ensure a seamless introduction of the new $100 note into the financial system, we will conduct a global public education program to ensure that users of U.S. currency are aware of the new security features."


Education on the new bill must be offered world-wide. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has stated that as much as two-thirds of all circulating US currency is used outside American borders. Also, while the $20 bill is a favorite among in-country counterfeiters, the $100 bill is most targeted by counterfeiters found abroad.


"A sound currency is the bedrock of a sound economy," states Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. "Therefore, the United States government must stay ahead of counterfeiters and protect the integrity of our currency."


Those with older $100 bills will not have to exchange them for the newer ones once they are made available. All of the estimated $6.5 billion older $100 notes will remain legal tender of the United States.

Additional information on the $100, to include free training and educational resources, may be found at

The $100 is the last of the American money to receive the security make-over. The new $20 bill debuted in 2003, the new $50 in 2004, the $10 bill in 2006 and the new $5 in 2008. The $1 bill is not scheduled to be re-vamped.

For reference, a video showing several of the enhancements and the official government press release is included below.


U.S. Government Unveils New Design for the $100 Note
Government to Currency Users: Know Its Features So You Can Know It’s Real

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 21, 2010) — Officials from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the United States Secret Service today unveiled the new design for the $100 note. Complete with advanced technology to combat counterfeiting, the new design for the $100 note retains the traditional look of U.S. currency.

"As with previous U.S. currency redesigns, this note incorporates the best technology available to ensure we’re staying ahead of counterfeiters," said Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner.

"When the new design $100 note is issued on February 10, 2011, the approximately 6.5 billion older design $100s already in circulation will remain legal tender," said Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Ben S. Bernanke. "U.S. currency users should know they will not have to trade in their older design $100 notes when the new ones begin circulating."

There are a number of security features in the redesigned $100 note, including two new features, the 3-D Security Ribbon and the Bell in the Inkwell. These security features are easy for consumers and merchants to use to authenticate their currency.

The blue 3-D Security Ribbon on the front of the new $100 note contains images of bells and 100s that move and change from one to the other as you tilt the note. The Bell in the Inkwell on the front of the note is another new security feature. The bell changes color from copper to green when the note is tilted, an effect that makes it seem to appear and disappear within the copper inkwell.

"The new security features announced today come after more than a decade of research and development to protect our currency from counterfeiting. To ensure a seamless introduction of the new $100 note into the financial system, we will conduct a global public education program to ensure that users of U.S. currency are aware of the new security features," said Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios.

“For 145 years, the men and women of the United States Secret Service have worked diligently to protect the integrity of U.S. currency from counterfeiters,” said Director Mark Sullivan. “During that time, our agency has evolved to keep pace with the advanced methodologies employed by the criminals we pursue. What has remained constant in combating counterfeiting, however, is the effectiveness of consumer education initiatives that urge merchants and customers to examine the security features on the notes they receive.”

Although less than 1/100th of one percent of the value of all U.S. currency in circulation is reported counterfeit, the $100 note is the most widely circulated and most often counterfeited denomination outside the U.S.

"The $100 is the highest value denomination that we issue, and it circulates broadly around the world," said Michael Lambert, Assistant Director for Cash at the Federal Reserve Board. "Therefore, we took the necessary time to develop advanced security features that are easy for the public to use in everyday transactions, but difficult for counterfeiters to replicate."

"The advanced security features we’ve included in the new $100 note will hinder potential counterfeiters from producing high-quality fakes that can deceive consumers and merchants," said Larry R. Felix, Director of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing. "Protect yourself — it only takes a few seconds to check the new $100 note and know it’s real."

The new design for the $100 note retains three effective security features from the previous design: the portrait watermark of Benjamin Franklin, the security thread, and the color-shifting numeral 100.

The new $100 note also displays American symbols of freedom, including phrases from the Declaration of Independence and the quill the Founding Fathers used to sign this historic document. Both are located to the right of the portrait on the front of the note.

The back of the note has a new vignette of Independence Hall featuring the rear, rather than the front, of the building. Both the vignette on the back of the note and the portrait on the front have been enlarged, and the oval that previously appeared around both images has been removed.

For a more detailed description of the redesigned $100 note and its features, visit where you can watch an animated video, click through an interactive note or browse through the multimedia resources for images and B-roll.

Also, visit for information on how to order free training materials for cash handlers, or you may download the materials directly from the Web site. The training materials for the $100 note are available in 25 languages.

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i think it is ulgy.


It’s both ulgy and ugly. IMO it looks like something put together by a middle-school art class. Nearly every other country has far better artwork and composition. Is this the best we can do?

And most of that “new” anti-counterfeiting technology has been in use in other countries for years. For example, euro notes have had holographic strips since 2002 along with special front-to-back images that register only when held up to a light. Canada plans to use polymer bills next year.


[…] released the first in a series of educational videos, amplifying public education efforts for the new $100 note, which will begin circulating on February 10, […]


[…] Federal Reserve on Friday, October 1, said the new $100 bill which features a fresh design and a range of enhanced security features will not rollout next […]


As a professional designer and an American, these new bills are an embarrassment to me. Instead of the world’s preeminent currency looking professional and worthy of its status as the world’s standard, the new bills look like the result of a cumulative set of printing errors. The anti-counterfeiting technology measures could have doubled as beautiful design elements, but instead of that, they simply look sloppy, ugly, amateurish and tasteless. This is a poor reflection on America, and is completely unnecessary considering that many other countries have absolutely outstanding currency designs.


there is no cohesion between this bill and any of the others. Some of the fonts have even changed. Can you count the number of different fonts? This looks like a printing mistake, like after your photoshop file couldn’t find the correct fonts associated with it so replaced them with random substitutes.

American money is it’s national brand. And this doesn’t look like a brand.