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What Is a C-Note?

"C-note" is a shoptalk term for a $100 banknote in U.S. currency. The "C" in C-note alludes to the Roman numeral for 100, which was imprinted on $100 bills, and it can likewise allude to a century. The term came to prominence during the 1920s and 1930s, and it was promoted in a number of hoodlum films.

Grasping C-Notes

"C-note" is utilized less regularly in contemporary shoptalk, and it has been replaced by "Benjamin." This term comes from Benjamin Franklin, one of the principal architects of the U.S., whose picture is on the front of the $100 banknote. Other shoptalk terms for a $100 bill are, thusly, "Franklins" and "Bens."

The Evolution of C-Notes

The $100 bill highlighted a capital "C" in its upper-left corner from 1869 to 1914, signifying the Roman numeral for 100. In 1914, the U.S. government introduced Federal Reserve notes to replace more established Treasury notes. The 1878 and 1880 releases included a representation of Abraham Lincoln on the left. The 1890 adaptation of the C-note included Adm. David Farragut to the right side. On the backs of the Farragut banknotes were two zeros that seemed to be watermelons, hence the nickname "watermelon notes."

Contemporary $100 Bills

Contemporary $100 bills show a broadened picture of Franklin on the front and a "100" in each corner. The "100" in the base right corner changes color contingent upon what point the light hits it. A blue three dimensional movement strip runs down the middle to try to forestall counterfeiting, and a watermarked representation of Franklin shows up on the right side when the banknote is held up to the light. The $100 bill has been the biggest printed showing since 1969. Bigger bills, such as the $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 bills were recently retired.

Special Considerations

The estimated life expectancy of a $100 bill is around 23 years — assuming it stays in circulation for that long. The average life expectancy of a $1 banknote, in contrast, is just 6.5 years. It's estimated that generally 80% of the $100 bills in circulation circulate outside the U.S.

There were around 16.4 billion $100 bills in circulation in 2020, valued at about $1.64 trillion. Around 13 billion $1 bills are in circulation, which is below the number of $100 bills. The number of C-notes in circulation has more than quintupled since 1995. It's said that the rise in the utilization of $100 bills is a consequence of the rising question of the financial system, with additional people choosing to keep their assets outside the system.

The Federal Reserve System disperses $100 bills as the requirement for this value of currency runs in cycles. Demand tops around the colder time of year occasions and Lunar, or Chinese, New Year because crisp C-notes act as great gifts inside of hello cards. When the upgraded $100 bills came out in 2013, 28 reserve bank cash offices stockpiled 3.5 billion of the banknotes. Those bills went to approximately 9,000 banks as the patched up C-notes entered circulation interestingly.


  • The term was derived from the Roman numeral "C" for 100.
  • The $100 bill once had a capital "C" in its upper-left corner.
  • "C-note" is shoptalk for a $100 bill.