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Our money is almost indestructible. Euro bills do not burn in the oven and cannot be destroyed by nail polish remover. Nevertheless, they have to be withdrawn from circulation more often. Here you can find out everything there is to know about paper money.

It is well known that yogurt has an expiration date. But our banknotes? Well, expiration date may be an exaggeration. Limited shelf life is more appropriate. If the bills are put loosely in your trouser pocket or if they go over the counter in the chip shop, the "paper" is badly stressed. But not only when it is tattered does the central bank withdraw it and replace it with a new one. Why it is like that? What are euro bills made of? What endurance tests do they go through? Where can you exchange battered money? You can find the answers to these questions here.

What do our euro bills have to be able to withstand?

They have to withstand a full wash cycle unscathed - if necessary even in the whites at 90 degrees. Spilled red wine must not harm the bills any more than the claws of a cat. And even in very hot weather, for example in the glove compartment of a car parked in the blazing sun, the banknotes must not shrink. However, the fact that they are not flammable even with an open fire is only a legend - it is therefore not advisable to try it out.

What do the endurance tests for banknotes look like?

The Munich banknote printer Giesecke & Devrient not only produces our euro notes, but also around 60 other currencies worldwide. The Bavarian money makers subject the notes to more than 50 endurance tests - with the iron, in the oven, in the acid bath. They also test the resilience with special machines, for example a crease machine. The money testers press the bill into a tube, into which a piston sticks again and again and the euro is pretty bad.

What material are banknotes actually made of?

Mostly made of high quality cotton. In order to make the banknotes more resistant, other materials such as plastics or paints are increasingly being used to treat the surface. So-called “hybrid banknotes” are relatively new. Here the cotton is covered with a foil. Liquids roll off it and the banknotes cannot tear easily.

How long do our euro bills last?

That mainly depends on the value of the banknote. Five and ten euro bills are used a lot and therefore have the shortest lifespan: on average, they are withdrawn from circulation after six months. 50 euro bills have been in circulation for around two years. 200s and 500s, which are often kept in the safe and which are rarely used for everyday payments, last an average of five years.

Why do they wear out faster in some countries?

Humidity and heat have an effect. In addition to the climatic conditions, different money habits are also the reason why banknotes last different lengths of time. Even within Europe: They last the longest in “wallet countries” like the Netherlands, and the shortest in countries with a high proportion of rural populations like Ireland.

Who decides whether banknotes are exchanged?

A country's central bank sets quality standards for its banknotes. And it also decides when its money ultimately needs to be exchanged and renewed. In cash centers, the bills are automatically counted and damaged bills are withdrawn from circulation.

Why are bills exchanged that don't look battered?

Some euro bills do not even look damaged to the naked eye. However, the banknote processing systems have completely different requirements in order to be able to evaluate and process the notes. Counterfeit notes must also be recognized and withdrawn quickly and securely. This happens on the basis of hidden features that can only be checked by special sensors based on magnets or UV light. If a certain signal intensity of these characteristics is no longer present, the machines can no longer recognize the flowers.

How can I exchange a worn out bank note?

If a banknote is no longer accepted when shopping, it is best to go to your house bank. Usually, your damaged note will be replaced immediately as a goodwill gesture. In the event of greater damage or higher amounts, the battered banknotes are often first forwarded to the Bundesbank. When she reimburses the amount, it will be credited to your account at the house bank.

Am I entitled to an exchange?

In principle, more than half of a broken note must be present, otherwise it is in fact worthless. If there is less, the Bundesbank needs proof that the missing parts of the banknote were not deliberately destroyed. She therefore advises everything to send in even the smallest parts or remains such as ash. The Bundesbank's national analysis center in Mainz has employees who, if necessary, meticulously examine damaged cash with high-resolution microscopes.

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