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Bureau of Engraving and Printing

The New Color of Money: Safer. Smarter. More Secure.

The most noticeable difference in the new $20 notes is the subtle green, peach and blue colors featured in the background. New designs for the $50 and $100 notes are scheduled for introduction in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Different colors will be used for different denominations, which will help everyone – particularly those who are visually impaired – to tell denominations apart. Redesign of the $5 and $10 notes is under consideration, but the $1 and $2 notes will not be redesigned.

While consumers should not use color to check the authenticity of their currency (relying instead on user-friendly security features – see below), color does add complexity to the note, making counterfeiting more difficult.

The new $20 bills maintain the traditional U.S. currency appearance, are the same size, and use the same, but enhanced portraits and historical images of Andrew Jackson on the face of the note and the White House on the back. The redesign also features new symbols of freedom – a blue eagle in the background, and a metallic green eagle and shield to the right of Jackson’s portrait.

Security Features

The new $20 note design retains three important security features that were first introduced in the late 1990s and are easy for consumers and merchants alike to check:

  • The watermark – the faint image similar to the large portrait, which is part of the paper itself and is visible from both sides when held up to the light.
  • The security thread – also visible from both sides when held up to the light, this vertical strip of plastic is embedded in the paper. “USA TWENTY” and a small flag are visible along the thread.
  • The color-shifting ink – the numeral “20” in the lower-right corner on the face of the note changes from copper to green when the note is tilted. The color shift is more dramatic and easier to see on the new-design notes.

Because these features are difficult for counterfeiters to reproduce well, they often do not try. Counterfeiters are hoping that cash-handlers and the public will not check their money closely.

Counterfeiting: Increasingly Digital

Currency counterfeiters are increasingly turning to digital methods, as advances in technology make digital counterfeiting of currency easier and cheaper. In 1995, for example, less than 1 percent of counterfeit notes detected in the U.S. were digitally produced. By 2002, that number had grown to nearly 40 percent, according to the U.S. Secret Service.

Yet despite the efforts of counterfeiters, U.S. currency counterfeiting has been kept at low levels, with current estimates putting the level of counterfeit notes in circulation worldwide at between 0.01 and 0.02 percent, or about 1-2 notes in every 10,000 genuine notes.

To learn more about the new currency and to download an image of the new $20 note, visit