How can you tell a real $100 bill from a fake $100 bill?

Answered by James Kissner

When it comes to distinguishing between real and fake $100 bills, there are several key features to look out for. One of the quickest ways to check is by examining the color-shifting ink used on the numbers in the lower right corner of the bill. This ink changes color when you tilt the bill, making it difficult for counterfeiters to replicate.

For $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills, the numbers in the lower right corner should have color-shifting ink. By tilting the bill back and forth, you should see the color of the ink change from copper to green or gold. This is a crucial security feature that is hard to replicate accurately, so it’s an excellent indicator of authenticity.

In addition to the color-shifting ink on the numbers, $100 bills also have another distinctive feature. To the left of the denomination, you will find a small inkwell with a bell inside it. This bell is also printed with color-shifting ink, and it changes color in the same way as the numbers. It’s important to check both the numbers and the bell to ensure the bill is genuine.

Apart from the color-shifting ink, there are other security features to look out for on a $100 bill. These include:

1. Raised printing: On an authentic bill, you will be able to feel the texture of the ink when you run your fingers over the portraits, the Treasury seal, the Federal Reserve System seal, and the serial numbers. Counterfeit bills often lack this raised texture.

2. Watermark: Hold the bill up to the light, and you should be able to see a faint watermark to the right of the portrait. The watermark is a duplicate image of the portrait itself. If the watermark is missing or doesn’t match the portrait, it’s likely a fake bill.

3. Security thread: Embedded within the bill is a thin security thread that runs vertically. It appears as a continuous line when held up to the light. The thread is inscribed with text that reads “USA” and the denomination of the bill. Counterfeit bills may have a different or no security thread at all.

4. Ultraviolet (UV) ink: Under ultraviolet light, genuine bills will display a glowing security thread and a hidden “USA” flag printed on the front of the bill. The back of the bill will show a glowing blue strip. Counterfeit bills may not have these UV features or might show inconsistent or blurry patterns.

5. Microprinting: Authentic $100 bills have tiny, clear text that can be read with a magnifying glass. Look for the words “USA” and “100” on the front of the bill, as well as additional microprinting around Benjamin Franklin’s portrait. Counterfeit bills may lack this level of detail.

These are just a few of the security features incorporated into authentic $100 bills. It’s important to examine multiple features to determine if a bill is genuine or counterfeit. If you suspect a bill is fake, it’s best to contact local law enforcement or your nearest United States Secret Service field office.