What Not Online Auctions

HomePaper MoneyPaper Money - What Are The World's 15 Highest Denominations Ranked by...

Paper Money – What Are The World’s 15 Highest Denominations Ranked by GDP

Paper Money High Denomination notes

Paper Money Denominations Updated by Coinweek Staff July 24, 2018 …..
Ever wonder what the highest-denomination paper money banknotes are in the world’s top-producing nations based on GDP?

At a time when terrorism and other criminal activities increasingly have the attention of international police and regulatory agencies, there is greater pressure on authorities to eliminate the higher-value denominations of the world’s leading paper money, whose fungibility, liquidity, purchasing power and anonymity make them useful means of funding such activities and desirable targets for counterfeiting.

Recently, the European Central Bank voted to end production and stop issuance of the 500-euro note by 2018, at which point the newly-released 200-euro Europa series banknote will be the highest circulating paper money denomination in the eurozone.

To find out about the rest of the world, CoinWeek took a survey of the highest denominations in the top 15 economies around the globe based on Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Here are the results:

#1 – United States: 100 Dollars ($100)

GDP: $19.390 Trillion

The United States once made gold-backed paper currency with face values as high as $100,000. Gold certificates–also issued in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000–were discontinued in 1940 during the production of Series 1934 and have since been used exclusively for intergovernmental transactions.

This leaves the $100 Federal Reserve note as the nation’s highest-denomination circulating banknote.

The $100 bill, featuring a portrait of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, is one of the world’s most popular and widely-traded forms of paper currency. It boasts a multitude of security features, including a security ribbon, color-shifting ink, a portrait watermark, a security thread, raised printing and microprinting.

#2 – China: 100 Yuan (¥100)

GDP: $12.237 Trillion

At the time of writing the 100 Yuan might be worth just $16 USD, but it’s China’s highest denomination of currency. The red banknote, featuring People’s Republic founder Mao Zedong (毛泽东), is also one of the nation’s most secure, with golden-hued touches and security strips to help deter counterfeiting. The People’s Bank of China has increasingly adopted more advanced security measures for its bills after several raids in recent years have turned up millions of dollars worth of counterfeit Chinese money.

#3 – Japan: 10,000 Yen (¥10,000)

GDP: $4.872 Trillion

Japan boasts one of Asia’s oldest and most established economies. The island nation has produced a wide array of banknotes over the years, but today has just four paper denominations: the 1,000-, 2,000-, 5,000- and 10,000-yen banknotes. The four lower denominations are also issued as coins.

The 10,000-yen note features a portrait of Japanese author and teacher Fukuzawa Yukichi (福澤 諭吉) on the front and is equivalent to roughly $91 USD.

#4 – Germany: 500 Euros (€500)

GDP: $3.677 Trillion

500 Euro Banknote

EU-member Germany comes in at number four on our list. Prior to its admission into the European Union in 2002, West Germany (1948-90) and a reunified Germany (1990-2002) used the Deutsche Mark as its unitary denomination. Immediately before the changeover, the highest German denomination had a face value of 1,000 marks and featured the Brothers Grimm of fairy tale fame.

Incidentally, many Germans are unhappy with the EU’s recent decision to phase out the 500-euro note, since nearly 80 percent of the nation’s transactions are handled with cash.

#5 – United Kingdom: 50 Pounds (£50)

GDP: $2.622 Trillion

The British have produced £1,000,000 and £100,000,000 notes for special governmental transactions that back money produced in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but the highest-denomination circulating banknote issued by the Bank of England is the £50 note, which features Queen Elizabeth II and a dual portrait of steam-power pioneers Matthew Boulton and James Watt on the back.

It should be noted that some banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland produce 100-pound banknotes that are not technically legal tender but are nonetheless widely accepted.

#6 – India: 1,000 Rupees (₹1000)

GDP: $2.597 Trillion

The 1,000-rupee note is India’s highest-denomination currency, and it sees plenty of daily use in the fast-growing, rapidly developing nation of more than one billion people. The 1,000-rupee note belongs to a larger series of Mahatma Gandhi banknotes that have been issued by the Reserve Bank of India since 1996. There have been calls to eliminate the 1,000- and 500-rupee notes from production to help weed out tax evaders and black market activities but the bills remain in production

The 500- and 1,000-rupee notes were updated in early 2016 with new visual and security features.

#7 – France: 500 Euros (€500)

GDP: $2.582 Trillion

Like their European Union counterparts, the French presently use banknotes with a face value as high as 500 euros. However, the day will soon come when France bids au revoir to the €500 note as it is phased out of production across the eurozone.

After the €500 note is eliminated from production in 2018, the 200-euro bill will become the highest-value piece of currency in France.

#8 – Brazil: 100 Reais (R$100)

GDP: $2.055 Trillion

This large South American nation is famous for its beaches and nightlife, where many Brazilians and tourists regularly spend 100-reais banknotes. The highest denomination of currency produced in Brazil, the 100-reais note (“reais” is the plural of “real”) boasts a sea green color and features the image of a dusky grouper on the reverse.

The obverse image features the head of the goddess República and is shared across all Brazilian banknotes.

#9 – Italy: 500 Euros (€500)

GDP: $1.937 Trillion

The highest denomination bill currently produced in Italy is the €500 note, but again, that will change in 2018 when the note is discontinued.

Interestingly, while EU countries such as France, Italy, and Germany are lowering the top face values of their paper currency from 500 to 200 euros, many non-EU European nations continue producing high-value paper currencies–much to the chagrin of neighboring Eurozone nations.

For example, Switzerland still manufactures a 1,000-franc bill, and Norway issues a 1,000-kroner banknote.

#10 – Canada: 100 Dollars ($100)

GDP: $1.657 Trillion

Canada’s largest denomination of currency in production is the $100 banknote, which bears an image of former Prime Minister Sir Robert L. Borden (served 1911-20).

The polymer notes represent the latest advancements in Canadian currency, with the present series originally issued between 2011 and 2013. The Bank of Canada is now preparing to issue a new series of banknotes in 2018, with at least one note bearing the image of an iconic Canadian woman to be determined in a national poll.

#11 – Russia: 5,000 Rubles (₽5000)

GDP: $1.577 Trillion

In a nation experiencing high inflation, the Russian 5,000-ruble note seems to fare quite well in circulation. Representing the highest denomination of paper money currency, the banknote has an obverse portrait featuring a monument to Russian diplomat Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky and a reverse image of the Khabarovsk Bridge over the Amur River.

#12 – South Korea: 50,000 Won (₩50,000)

GDP: $1.530 Trillion

South Korea’s highest-denomination paper money banknote is the 50,000 Won, which features an obverse portrait of 16th-century South Korean artist Shin Saimdang and reverse design depicting bamboo and a plum tree. The 50,000-won (worth approx. $42.15 USD) note employs more than 20 security features, including holograms, intaglio printing, a security thread, color-shifting ink, and watermark portraits.

#13 – Australia: 100 Dollars ($100)

GDP: $1.323 Trillion

Like many dollar-based nations, Australia’s top note is the $100 bill. The light blue and gray Australian $100 banknote (worth approx. $72.33 USD) has an obverse portrait of Australian geologist and explorer Douglas Mawson along with astronomer John Tebbutt.

The current polymer notes date back to 1988, when the nation first issued plastic currency.


#14 – Spain: 500 Euros (€500)

GDP: $1.311 Trillion

For now, the 500-euro bill is Spain’s highest-denomination paper money banknote. Once the Eurozone phases out the production of €500 notes in 2018, the €200 will become Spain’s highest-denomination note. At this point, there are some 600 million 500-euro notes in circulation throughout Europe and the rest of the world, representing just 3.2 percent of Euro notes but 30 percent of their cumulative value.

#15 – Mexico: 1,000 Pesos ($1,000)

GDP: $1.149 Trillion

Rounding out the top 15 nations with the highest gross domestic product is Mexico. The nation currently issues the 1,000-peso banknote, which features an obverse portrait of Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, leader of the Mexican independence movement. On the reverse is a view of the University of Guanajuato.

The common theme among the highest denomination circulating paper money banknotes issued by the nations listed above is that the denominations aren’t outlandishly high, with many capped at the “100” mark. In the case of the Euro, the sizable €500 paper money note is on its way out, launching the more modest €200 bill to the top place among eurozone members. Nevertheless, €500 notes will still be legal tender after 2018 and can be exchanged for lesser bills.


World Banknotes Currently Available on eBay


Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

Related Articles


  1. Using terrorism as a rationalization to eliminate the highest denominations is a Trojan horse to implement NIRP (actually a tax in disguise) and taxing every single last cent of economic activity.

  2. It would be interesting to see the writers point regarding Austria, one of the major 500 euro note printing countries… Also, Germany had a 1000 DM note which was replaced by the almost equal in value 500 euro note, the fact that 80% of the countries transactions are in cash has nothing to do with the existence of the 500 euro note as most of them are in private hands in SPAIN anyway and rarely see circulation. As it is also described in the article, ECB decided to stop producing 500 euro notes, those in “circulation” are almost 30% of the total amount of euros BUT at the same time they WILL replace the 200 euro note with one of the new series and obviously that one, unlike its previous version will be mass produced… it only makes sense… until now 200 euro note was almost a novelty, its the least produced of all euro notes.

    Not to mention that 25-30% of euro notes mostly higher denomination ones are “circulating” abroad, it only makes sense for ECB to stop producing more 500 euro notes, those already existing with the way they are used could last for decades before being decommissioned and print more 200 euro notes which would be much more useful in everyday transactions.

    The excuses for not printing larger denominations though to stop them from being used in illegal transactions etc are simply stupid… think about this… you want to transport 10 million euro from one country to another without being spotted… that would be 20000 500 euro notes, or a couple suitcases full of them notes….. all it would take to skip banknotes in that case would be maybe less than 1kg of mixed cut diamonds .3-1 carat each.. and then are modern advanced transactions like stock market and other special financial means to legalize and transfer funds to financial heavens… you choose… as seen lately, billions of dollars were found in offshore accounts and i bet you anything, none of that billions was transported in cash form and deposited to the offshore bank account….

    • You are mistaken the 500 euro note is NOT the highest valued paper currency in circulation , it is the Swiss CHF 1000 note

  3. This post seems to ignore the highest denomination currently in circulation – the Singapore 10,000 note. Worth roughly 7400 usd. Although it is slowly getting withdrawn, it is still legal tender. The next highest denomination is the Singapore 1,000 note worth around 740usd.

  4. The author seems to have conflated the two different forms of high-denomination US currency produced during the first half of the 20th century. Federal Reserve notes in denominations of $500, $1000, $5000, and $10,000 were produced for general circulation in the series of 1918 and 1934. The two lower-value notes did see moderate use in business settings; the other two were only issued in limited quantities, with some being acquired by “high rollers” such as casino magnate Benny Binion. Production of the 1934 series ended in 1945 rather than 1940, and they could still be obtained from banks until July 1969. At that time, concerns about their use in criminal activities led President Nixon to issue an order ending their distribution and requiring banks to return any that they received. Interestingly, high-value bills were never demonetized nor formally withdrawn and technically remain legal tender even though spending one at face value would be financially foolish.

    Circulating gold certificates were withdrawn when the US left the gold standard in 1933. The Treasury however printed non-circulating gold certificates in denominations of 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10,000 and 100,000 dollars to facilitate transfers within the Federal Reserve System. All of these bills were issued as series 1934 notes and both were and are illegal to be held privately. Most were destroyed in the 1960s when electronic transfers became practical. The $100,000 note is of particular interest because it’s the highest-denomination US bill ever issued. At least one specimen still exists in the Smithsonian collection; depending on the reference one or two others from the total run of 42,000 bills may have survived although they have somewhat the same status as 1964-D Peace dollars.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Great Collection Coin Auctions

AU Capital Management US gold Coins

NGCX Holders and Grading