If you are reading this, you likely have discontinued currency. You are also probably concerned that you will lose that money and a little bit curious whether it is worth more to you than face value. Fortunately, figuring out the actual value of old Canadian paper money is not that difficult.
The value of old Canadian paper money depends on its condition, status and date. There are three sources that use the same criteria to assess your money and give you a value. They are official banks, dealers, and other collectors. You also can do your own research via coin books and the internet.
It is very unlikely that your old Canadian paper money is worth less than its face value. The question then becomes if it is worth more than its face value. You have several options to get paper currency assessed to establish its value, and we consider them below.
The Status Of Canadian Currency
As of January of 2021, multiple denominations of Canadian paper money had their status of legal tender pulled, resulting in them no longer being recognized as actual currency that can be used for purchases. The main reason for this was that the older paper money lacked basic anti-counterfeiting measures and could be easily replicated.
If that is news to you, do not panic. You have a couple of options that will be viable for at least a few years. In terms of specific notes, the Canadian government pulled the legal tender status of all $1, $2, $25, $500 and $1,000 notes.
The Baseline Status
The good news is that in any case, Canadian banks will still honor the face value of any note that is brought in. At the very least that means that anyone holding a discontinued paper bill does not lose their money. In some cases, though, the value of paper Canadian currency can be worth more than face value and, in a few instances, significantly more than face value.
What Is The Value Of Old Canadian Paper Money?
At the very least, your discontinued Canadian paper notes will be worth face value, at least for the foreseeable future, if you turn them into the correct bank. Decommissioning the currency does not mean they are now rendered worthless. Just because they were decommissioned, however, does not mean that they are necessarily worth more than face value either.
Most Notes Are Worth Face Value
The likelihood is that any old Canadian paper notes you have are worth their face value and no more. The vast majority of discontinued currency is only worth face value, and if a note is worth more than face value, it is likely only by a few cents.
Canadian $2 Bill
With very few exceptions, a discontinued $2 bill is worth $2. One exception is if you have the 1986 error that had the wrong officials’ signatures on it. However, the values of these vary and some sell for just over $2. Just about all other $2 bills are worth face value, no matter where you take them to have them evaluated.
The Canadian $1,000 bill can be worth a lot more than face value, provided it is in decent condition. It was discontinued in 2001, primarily because criminal organizations tended to be the only people actually using them.
Their condition is important, of course, but some $1,000 bills are worth quite a bit more than face value, even though they are not usable in cash transactions (except as a collectible with a dealer or other collector).
Canadian $1 bills are rare and therefore fairly valuable. Discontinued in 1989, there are not many left in circulation. That rarity has caused their value to skyrocket. A 1954 Canadian $1 bill, called “The Devil’s Face” because some saw a face that looked like a devil in the Queen’s hair, can fetch thousands of dollars.
Replacement notes for the 1954 run that did not have the visage some saw in the Queen’s hair are equally as valuable. The average sale price for a normal $1 bill without the ‘Devil’s Face’ is about $3,000. However, most $1 bills are not worth that much more than face value.
Where To Get Your Old Canadian Paper Money Evaluated
There are three main places to get your bills evaluated. They are:
- Private collectors and evaluation organizations
Any official Canadian bank will honor discontinued bills at face value after the bills have been examined and determined to be authentic. Any paper money you have that was minted prior to 2013 should be evaluated. If the bill is authenticated, the bank will honor the face value of the bill.
The bank will not assess the bill based on collectability, nor will the bank pay for a collectible, except at face value of the bill. That means that, if you have a bill you think might be worth more than face value, you should have it assessed at a dealer or organization that valuates collectible currency.
If your bill is determined to not be legitimate (which can happen when it is severely damaged or counterfeit), the institution examining them will make a determination if they should be honored.
If the bill is counterfeit and thus is confiscated as evidence, you will not be compensated for the bill. The seizing of the bill is a legal requirement.
If the bill is thought to be counterfeit, but it is not provable, the bank will make a case-by-case decision whether to honor the bill. At the very least, if it cannot be proven to be a counterfeit, you are entitled to receive the bill back.
If the bill is not counterfeit but severely damaged, the bank will decide if it will honor the bill. You are entitled to receive it back if the bank passes on paying it out.
If you have paper currency, you should contact the bank that you want to send the currency to and see what the process for evaluation is. In most cases, the process is very stringent in terms of how to send it to the bank, what to send it in, what the bank will look at and how it will determine the value of the bill.
Private Collectors And Evaluation Organizations
Another option is to take your bills to an estimator. If you do your due diligence and get a couple of estimates, you will be much more likely not to get taken advantage of. You want to make sure that if you use a private estimator they are familiar with and have experience in estimating paper currency.
A private estimator will look at the following:
- Condition of the note
- Date the note was minted
- Comparative value based on serial number
- Rarity of the note
The condition of the note is based on the following ratings scale.
Good: A note in circulation, with some problems such as cracking, creasing, bends, or rips.
Very Good: The note is circulated and may have minor issues such as soiling, stains or some splitting. Additionally, the note can be “limp.”
Fine: Bills in this condition are whole but show wear and tear. The note may have folds and minor soiling.
Very Fine: A note in this condition will have light soiling and minor folding.
Extremely Fine: This would be a bill with very light folding, little wear, and any blemishes or stains would only be visible to a trained eye.
About Uncirculated: This type of bill is in circulation but in extremely good condition. It shows almost no wear and tear, the points are crisp, and there is no evidence of folds or staining.
Uncirculated: This type of bill is not in circulation and very closely resembles a bill that would be considered as being in “Mint Condition.” It is the highest level of note that a nonprofessional collector would be in possession of. It would have authentication paperwork.
Within each category, there are also “end designations” that allow for more precise variants in ratings. For instance, higher end designations that are almost in another class of rating can receive a “+” with their rating (as in Fine +). Likewise, bills at the lower end of a rating can receive a “-,” indicating that they are almost at a lower rating.
The Rating Criteria
The individual assessing your bills will assign a grade to each one and document why that grade was appropriate. The grades included here are the most likely grades an average collector would use. Additionally, any bills that fall below the minimal rating are not worth anything more than the face value of the note.
Importance Of Mint Date
The mint date is evaluated because some dates are more significant than others. Canadian $1 bills, for instance, stopped being printed in 1989. Other dates are historically significant, although commemorative issue currency usually pertains to coins. Additionally, dates can indicate how many bills are in circulation, which impacts the rarity of the bill.
Serial Number Comparison And Rarity
In addition to assessing the condition of a note and its mint date, an assessor will also look at the official currency serial number and compare that to other bills of the same denomination and mint date. From that, they can make a more precise estimate that looks at condition, date and market conditions.
That comparison also provides an estimator with an idea of the rarity of a note. That is the final piece of the note assessment puzzle. An estimator will look at the rarity of a note and factor that into all the other assessment factors to derive a final price.
After The Estimate
Once an estimated value has been given to you – if the bill is worth anything – the estimator or dealer might make you an offer. If this happens when you have your bills estimated, make sure to have another dealer or assessor estimate the value of your collection. Do not agree to any price until you have it confirmed by a third party.
The final external estimating entities are dealers. These differ from private collectors or organizations in that they are looking to make money on your collection if it is worth it to them to purchase it. That really is the key to remember whenever you take a bill or a collection of bills to a dealer.
In addition to that, you need to make sure that the dealer you use is reputable. Check their background and ask for opinions from collectors and other dealers. You can also look into any customer complaints with organizations like the BBB.
Always get another opinion when collaborating with a dealer. Let them know before they estimate your collection that you will be doing that. Letting them know accomplishes two things that may affect the value they give you, usually in your favor:
- They will know you will be checking their estimate
- They understand that your collection might be purchased by another person
Do Your Own Research
The final method of assessing the value of a paper note is to do the research on your own. While you cannot accurately assess to the exact rating the condition of the notes you have, you can make a reasonable estimate. You also can conduct the other assessment methods with a fair degree of certainty.
Start by identifying the mint date and approximate rarity. You know that a bill that is in common circulation now, for instance, is not going to be worth anything more than face value. A bill you rarely see, however, is likely going to be worth more than face value.
There are multiple websites that provide specific run totals for Canadian paper currency. In addition, many websites provide general guidance regarding rarity and bill condition. Use these as guides to help determine what you have and if it is a rare bill.
Another method of assessment is to review websites that list the values of specific denominations, serial numbers and market prices. These databases can give you a specific value of your note. Remember that any research online, unless it is updated in real-time, may be somewhat out of date, so you may need to adjust your valuations accordingly.
Amateur Rating Of The Condition Of Bills
You can find specific rating criteria online as well as how to utilize the “+” and “-” signs correctly. Review the paper currency you have and give it a rating classification.
If a bill is on the margin regarding having more value than face value, hold onto it. It might increase in value over time. Your estimate might also be off, and it might rate better when done by a professional. If a bill is clearly not in collectible shape, your best bet is to take it in for assessment by a bank and getting the face value for the bill.
Get A Professional Assessment
It is one thing to do your own research and get a general feel for the value of your old Canadian paper money. It is another to have a professional take a look at it. Even if you know your assessment is accurate or close to accurate, a professional review is still a good idea.
Having their official estimate can help you sell the bill if that is what you want to do. It also provides verification if you sell it to a different dealer or collector. Finally, it sets a value baseline if you hold onto the bill, which you can refer to over time to decide when to sell it based on other factors like market prices.
Once You Have The Assessed Value
If your collection of bills is not worth much, you should cash it in at a bank as soon as you can. While no deadline for accepting old bills has been firmly established, you never know when the government and banks will decide enough time has passed to turn in your bills. Then you’ll be out of any money you could have gotten for your old Canadian paper bills!
The value of old Canadian paper money is usually face value, with a few exceptions. You may have more collectible bills that could be worth more than face value to the right person, but usually your best course of action is to simply take them to a bank and get their face value in return.