Learn from the experiences of other expats and make new friends in our disccussion forums and Facebook groups
The Expat Focus Guide to Moving Abroad contains everything you need to know when planning an international relocation available now, completely free
Insurance, FX and international movers
The Expat Focus podcast features interviews with expats living abroad and service providers meeting their needs subscribe today!
From our tax, investment and FX partners
Expat Focus Partners

Become a Partner. Click Here.

United States of America (USA) - Currency

The United States of America has a single currency known as the US Dollar which is coded as USD and has the symbol $.

The dollar is divided into 100 cents. It is also the world’s most dominant reserve currency and is used by countries other than the United States. It is accepted in the Caribbean Islands such as Turks and Caicos. It is also used as accepted currency in other countries as a second currency. It is the world’s most used trading currency.

The American Silver Eagle is the name given to the pure silver dollar and is used to mint coins and paper dollars from one cent to fifty dollars. The word “dollar” is in the Constitution and is one of the first words in paragraph nine of Article 1. The term comes from the Spanish Milled Dollar. In the late 1700s Congress formed an act to establish a mint and a way of regulating coins in the USA. The American Dollar was born and was based on decimal value and its units, cents and dimes, were also formed.

The dollar is made of cotton fibre paper. Coins are brought into circulation by the United States Mint. Dollar notes are printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The bank notes are then issued by the Federal Reserve. Notes before 1929 were much larger than what is in circulation now; today all notes are the same size. Dollar notes come in at one, two (rare), five, ten, twenty, fifty and hundred notes. Each note contains an American President.

· One Dollar – George Washington

· Two Dollar – Thomas Jefferson

· Five Dollar – Abraham Lincoln

· Ten Dollar – Alexander Hamilton

· Twenty Dollar – Andrew Jackson

· Fifty Dollars – Ulysses S. Grant

· Hundred Dollars – Benjamin Franklin

There were higher denominations of the dollar and these are no longer in circulation; however, face value of the $500, $1000, $5000, $10,000 and $100,000 notes is now far more in collectors’ terms and these are highly sought after. They were stopped to reduce organised crime and ultimately they fizzled out in the 1960s under the presidency of Richard Nixon. The post-war era and the swinging 60s saw the larger notes used widely for large bank transactions.

The appearance of the notes has a green hue, although in 2004 different coloured inks were introduced to distinguish between denominations. There are further plans to bring in more colours in order to help those who are visually impaired to distinguish between the notes’ denominations.

Slang Terms

The dollar is affectionately known as a "buck". Americans will usually describe the price of something ($8.99) as eight dollars & 99 cents when saying the numerical sequence of a price. The dollar bill is another term for dollar notes and a quarter is a 25 cent coin.


The dollar has declined in value since the Global Financial Crisis and the rise in inflation. Other periods of the dollar being low in value include the war-time periods of the country; this is nothing unusual in terms of world currencies. Both the 20th century wars declined the value of the dollar and the American Civil War in the 19th century showed an earlier decline.

The value of the dollar was originally pegged against the value of gold and this became untenable from the post-war era and was finally unable to be swapped for gold in the reign of Richard Nixon. This was one of many Nixon shocks. Since then the value of the dollar has been controlled by the Federal Reserve. The 70s saw a large decline in the value of the dollar as the Federal Reserve kept up a ready supply of money and this resulted in the worrying stagflation. This is when inflation is high and the economy is low and leaves a huge gaping chasm between the two. The dollar during this period lost almost two-thirds of its value. In 1979, the value stabilised as The Federal Reserve stopped printing money and inflation lowered. Between 1981 and 2009 the dollar has lost almost half of its value due to increased inflation rates.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.

Copyright © 2019 Expat Focus. All Rights Reserved. Use of this website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use/Privacy Policy. Comments are property of their posters.
Interactive software released under GNU GPL, Code Credits, Privacy Policy