General Question

Symbeline's avatar

Do banks replace damaged bills?

Asked by Symbeline (30764 points ) April 27th, 2014

I have a five dollar bill that’s stapled together in the middle, and upon further inspection, it’s actually two halves of two different five dollar bills stapled together to make it look like one bill. I cannot use this. Had I noticed this when I received it from the store as change, I would have asked them to give me another. But I didn’t, so…I can’t go back over there, since I have no way of proving they gave it to me.
Will they replace it if I take it to the bank? I’m looking it up online right now, but any quick answer would be appreciated. Bank is closed now, will have to go tomorrow, but until then…can it be replaced, or am I stuck with it?

(also I live in Canada, maybe the rules for this here are different than in the States)

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63 Answers

GloPro's avatar

If the serial number is visible and valid they should exchange it for you. Let us know.

Symbeline's avatar

Both parts have two entire serial numbers. (different ones, that’s how it’s from two other fivers) I’d love to know who the hell thought doing this was a good idea. :/

GloPro's avatar

Ah. Lesson learned. I do know that they will exchange burned or ripped up bills in the USA. I have no idea how it works if it’s two separate ones, but it makes sense that if they exchange only one, then the other half could be exchanged as well, and it would balance out… Unless you tried to get a replacement for all 4 halves. That logic makes me think you should spend it at a register with an equally unobservant cashier, in a stack like you got. Not ethical, but fuck it. Pay getting screwed forward.

Symbeline's avatar

I was actually thinking of trying to spend it lol, but my conscience won’t let me. XD I just want my five bucks back, I don’t need them to replace both bills. unless they insist

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Unstaple it and take the two halves and take it to the bank and ask if they can replace your two fives. Bam, doubled your money.

talljasperman's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe You need 55% of a bill to get you money replaced.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, they will. I was a teller for a time. We’d get shot money and put it in a special drawer for recycling.

@talljasperman I thought you just needed to have both serial numbers visible to get it replaced.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’d actually suggest what @Adirondackwannabe says… but not the same bank, and not on the same day.

In the USA, the general rule always has been that if you have “at least half” of a bill, then the bank will replace it, because they will also get it replaced via the Federal Reserve, and the damaged bill will be retired, shredded and recycled.

But if you bring in two halves to the same place at the same time, I would imagine that they’ll only give you a single $5 bill. (So, really, that would be “the honest thing to do”, but considering how badly degraded our currency has been made over the past century, it seems fair to me to try to double it.)

Dutchess_III's avatar

If that were the case @CWOTUS then you could tear a bill in half and get it replaced at one bank, then go to another bank with the other half and get it replaced again. That’s why you have to have both serial numbers available, to prevent that.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Guys I was kidding. It’s bad kharma to do something like that. I walked by a five dollar bill on the floor Saturday at the local Walmart, and some woodchuck came up and grabbed it. I should have taken it to the lost and found.

GloPro's avatar

$5? Don’t be dumb. It’s just $5.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@GloPro Hey if it’s a young child, $5 bucks is a big amount.

GloPro's avatar

Yeah, but it would never occur to me to send my kid to lost and found over $5.
I lost a $50 two days ago. I’ve torn this house apart. I think I dropped it at the bar I walked to, but I have no hope that would have been turned in.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@GloPro Your 50 was most definitely turned in…...for more drinks. :P

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@GloPro Yeah, look at it like @El_Cadejo Somebody enjoyed your $50.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Why not take it to the bank and find out? I was a teller for three years and if someone came in wanting to exchange a damaged bill for another one, I didn’t check the serial number – I just have them a new one and put theirs in my mutilated money pile.

Symbeline's avatar

That’s what I’m doing tomorrow. Bank is closed today. and I really need that 5 bucks too haha

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m sorry @Symbeline I just read your details. So you have two different serial numbers? That might be a problem. I’ll be curious to know what the bank does.

Symbeline's avatar

Yeah, so if both halves aren’t the percentage needed for a replacement, guess I’m fucked lol.

Dutchess_III's avatar

:( I can send you $5.00!

LuckyGuy's avatar

Before the interwebz, I once found a worn out, half of a $100 bill on the beach in Miami. ( Drug deal gone bad?) I brought it to the bank and they said they needed to check to see if it was stolen and would replace it in 30? 60? days if it wasn’t.
After some time I got a letter in the mail saying I could come down to the bank. The exchange was approved. I got a nice new $100 bill! Yay!

tedibear's avatar

Last I knew, you needed 60% of the bill, preferably with all of one serial number and at least part of the other.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

You need both halves of a damaged bill with same serial number on both halves [why do you think they put serial numbers on bills on both sides?]

JLeslie's avatar

If the bill is more than 50% of a bill they are supposed to.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Banker for 12 years. If your my customer and you have the serial number you’re getting a new bill. I don’t know how they do it is some other places. How exactly do you figure out what percentage of the bill you have? I had better things to do with my time.

creative1's avatar

Usually the rule is that as long as you have at least more than half of a bill the bank can take and replace it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe If the bill is perfect except for less than half of it missing it is a simple task. You just measure it.

If the bill mutilated or not easily measured for 50% the person can send it or bring it to the bureau of engraving and printing.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The $100 bill I turned in was really sun bleached, worn by sand and water and missing most of the bill. I don’t think there was half but I honestly do not remember. The serial number was all they needed.
Frankly I thought it was going to be taken as evidence for a crime investigation.
It is a good story – and I got $100 as a bonus.

JLeslie's avatar

The reason it needs to be more than half, is because otherwise people could turn in both halves. When I say half, that means more than 50% of the paper must be present. Half does not mean half if legible. If you have a whole bill and 80% of it is difficult to read, but a serial number is intact they might still replace it for you.

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Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie The most important this is that the serial numbers on both sides are visible. I mean, you could cut off everything below and above the SN’s and you’ve have less than half of the bill, but all that you need to get it replaced.
@Adirondackwannabe, is that correct? ^^^^ Or is only one serial number necessary?

SweetMae's avatar

Maybe some banks have different policies. Check with your bank.

Dutchess_III's avatar

For the most part banks have identical policies, mandated by the government @SweetMae. The government is who is going to replace the bills so they wouldn’t allow one set of criteria for one bank and a different criteria for another.

Symbeline's avatar

Well here’s how this turned out, which was fabulously shitty. So I ask the receptionist if I can change the bill and she says yeah, but that I will only get 2,50 for it because it’s only half the bill, and you need the number on it twice, otherwise. So I’m like fine, and go to one of the staff over there. At first she didn’t even want to change it, until I explained that the receptionist told me it was valid.

So she goes, fine then, motherfucker. But they need to conduct some kind of investigation on the bill to see what happened to it, if it was stolen and everything. This can take up to six months. Wow okay. All that for two goddamn dollars that I can’t buy anything with anyway? What a nation of fucking pigs.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III The over a half a bill has to do with over half before the tear. He has two half bills. If one side is over 50%, or if both sides are, he can get it replaced. He can get both sides replaced if they each are over 50%. If both sides are less than half then he gets nothing. It’s completely torn in “half” it isn’t like a piece of a bill is missing in the middle.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, every so often he might have given someone money who should not have recoved it if the bill was less than 50%.

Dutchess_III's avatar

HAS SHE GOTTEN THE DANG THING EXCHANGED YET???!!!!

Symbeline's avatar

See my last answer in here.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s ridiculous! We changed out mutilated bills all the time! Take it to a different bank! And it sounds like you should be able to get $2.50 twice, one for each side of the bill.

Symbeline's avatar

Well they took the five bucks, so I can’t try another place.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s so stupid. I’m sorry. I know what $5.00 can mean, too. :(

Symbeline's avatar

Apparently they used to replace them when they were messed up this way, but maybe people took advantage of that. Somehow. They still might, but six months for two bucks? Ugh. Being honest sucks, I should have just tried to spend it haha.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it was always my understanding that if you had BOTH of the serial numbers, they could replace it, no matter what condition. If you only have one serial number, though I can see how they can’t replace the whole thing. People would be tearing $20s in half, then getting $40 back!

Symbeline's avatar

I realize this, obviously people would try that. But I would have been happy with just the five dollar replacement. It should just count as one bill, even if said bill is made out of 48 different five dollar bills. I mean that would solve that problem about people trying to cheat it.

livelaughlove21's avatar

You’re bank is strict. I know at our bank, they wouldn’t have noticed the difference in serial numbers. It’s just going to be mutilated anyway. Investigation that may take 6 months for a $5 bill? So stupid. And only giving you half of it because it’s half of the bill. There’s absolutely nothing logical about that.

Symbeline's avatar

Well I told them it was two different fivers, but I think they would have noticed anyway, had I not explained.

Dutchess_III's avatar

They’re going to spend $5,000 to track down this “stolen” $5.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Dutchess_III Exactly. I was paid big bucks by the bank. It wasn’t worth my time or the customers time over small bucks. I’d just get it done, make the customer happy and move on to something productive. Why spend big bucks on a small buck question? When the assholes got too thick in the business I got out.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III We are talking about two different things. With one serial number you get the money if over 50% of the bill intact. You are talking about two serial numbers and other parts of the bill missing or damaged.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe has 12 years of banking experience. He’s saying this isn’t the case. You don’t need 50% of the bill.

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe So, if someone has a only a quarter of a bill and the serial number is on it you gave them a new bill? Or, are you saying if it looked like a half or better you gave a new bill?

@Dutchess_III Let’s see what @Adirondackwannabe says. The bank turns the money into the government, and either the government replaces the bill or not. The guidelines are really about what the government considers ok to replace. The bank can have its own rules about how it scrutinizes bills, but in the end the government either counts the bill as whole or it doesn’t.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

As long as you have the part of the bill with the numbers on it they will replace. They might want both numbers, which is a change from how we did it. So you could have as little as a strip of the bill and they will replace it. I checked with a bank yesterday.

Symbeline's avatar

My bank needed both numbers. Guess I’ll know in six months if I get two dollars or not. Those jerk sacks.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

That is a pretty chincy rule. Bills always seem to get ripped in half or one end gets torn off.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe But if they don’t have both numbers, they could turn half the bill in at one bank and the other half at another bank and double their money! Right?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Dutchess_III The person I talked with yesterday said the bill that is turned in to be replaced immediately needs the numbers on both sides.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes, if you have both numbers, you have both. No other part of the bill can be turned in, so if it is less than 50% it probably doesn’t matter. If you have one serial number with part of the bill intact, like a bill torn in “half” down the middle, then as long as it is more than 50% it will get replaced. The smaller “half” won’t get replaced for obvious reasons. Mutilated or damaged money from chemicals or fire is a whole different story.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie You do not need more than 50% of the bill! Going to look at a dollar bill now… OK, there is a serial number on the bottom left and the top right. If you cut every bit of the bill away and only had two strips, and both strips have the same serial number, then they will replace the bill. Two strips, each about 1 inch by 3 inches is all you need. That is far, far less than 50% of the bill.

JLeslie's avatar

I know, but the OP has one serial number.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, so that is a problem.

We need to take up a collection for her!

JLeslie's avatar

It’s not a problem if she has over 50% of the bill! LOL.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If you have a bill, and it’s chopped off right before one of the serial numbers starts, you can’t get it replaced, at least, not immediately, even though you have well over 50% of the bill.
I think I understand now why they reacted the way they did (although I find it stupid, over a $5.00 bill,) because they have to research to see if the bill(s) have already been replaced.

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