The vending machine swallowed half of my $5 bill, and the other half remained in my hand. Can I get my $5 back, or is it all lost forever?

  • 11
    I don't know the legal basis for my claim, but I think you are justified in tossing a couple of firm elbows at the machine. At least a good solid wallop on the side. – MrChrister Jan 15 '13 at 0:04
  • 8
    @MrChrister Did that, but adding insult to injury, my elbows hurt and the machine doesn't care. Or is it injury added to insult? – littleadv Jan 15 '13 at 0:05
  • 4
    Mutilated currency – George Marian Jan 15 '13 at 0:12
  • 4
    That machine cares. It doesn't show it; but it cares. – MrChrister Jan 15 '13 at 0:15
  • 1
    @GeorgeMarian its not mutilated, its just torn. And the problem is that its not really "clearly" more than half that's left on each side. – littleadv Jan 15 '13 at 0:16

According to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, if you have clearly more than one-half of the current bill remaining, you should be able to take it to your bank and exchange it. But if for some reason your bank will not take it, you can submit it to Bureau of Engraving and Printing Office of Currency Standards.

Question asked on http://www.moneyfactory.gov/faqlibrary.html

I have some currency that was damaged. My bank will not exchange it for undamaged currency. What can I do? The Bureau of Engraving and Printing's Office of Currency Standards processes all requests for reimbursement for damaged United States currency. They decide the redemption value of torn or otherwise unfit currency by measuring the portions of the notes submitted. Generally, they reimburse the full face value if clearly more than one-half of the original note remains. Currency fragments measuring less than one-half are not redeemable. Go to the Damaged Money section of our website for additional information and the procedures to redeem mutilated currency.

However take notice of this:

Any badly soiled, dirty, defaced, disintegrated, limp, torn, worn, out currency note that is CLEARLY MORE than one-half of the original note, and does not require special examination to determine its value. These notes should be exchanged through your local bank.

| improve this answer | |
  • I found that, but it doesn't address a case where its exactly one half.... (Kids, don't put so much pressure when you fold the bills in your pockets in half!) – littleadv Jan 15 '13 at 1:45
  • 2
    I read this too. If the vending machine operator did it, wouldn't that effectively double the $5? – MrChrister Jan 15 '13 at 3:10
  • 1
    @GeorgeMarian they want more than half, not at least. Quote: "More than 50% of a note identifiable as United States currency is present". – littleadv Jan 15 '13 at 18:20
  • 1
    @littleadv I don't understand what is not clear. Do you have enough of the bill to go into a bank and redeem it? Apparently not. (Have you even tried that?) It may qualify as mutilated currency, so try that route. Since you may run into an issue about having exactly 50% of the bill, you should try to get the other half of the bill from the vending company. – George Marian Jan 15 '13 at 19:15
  • 1
    This is by far my favourite question on money.se so far. @MrChrister, I really want to know the answer to that question - perhaps we could put Quantitative Easing in the hands of the people?! – thepassiveinvestor Jan 15 '13 at 23:32

There is usually contact information for the owner of the machine printed somewhere on it. Call that number. If it is in a business you could always try the clerk.

Whether you get your money back is up to that person, I suppose.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I was going to suggest sitting by the machine until it's serviced, but this answer is probably the way to go. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jan 15 '13 at 2:10
  • Contacted the maintenance dept, lets see what happens. The other half of the bill is as useless to whoever got it as my half is to me.... – littleadv Jan 15 '13 at 2:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.