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Treasury Unveils New $100 Bill: Fun Facts About the Benjamins

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke unveiled a brand new $100 bill this morning. It's awesomely high tech and cool, the better to foil counterfeiters. The front features a big blue 3D stripe with images that change from bells to the number 100 when tilted, as well as a color-changing inkwell. How wild is that? Rappers and pop culture bloggers will be happy to know it's still all about Benjamin, though.

The new bill won't go into circulation until February 11, 2011, and existing $100s will continue to circulate, at least for a while, after that.

Looking for advice? Don't carry them, unless your main aim is to provoke fights with cabdrivers or deal with underground moneychangers in Myanmar (who reportedly pay extra for C Notes.) Instead, carry minimal cash and use a cash-back credit card for all of your walking around expenses. If you pay off the balance every month, that's safer and smarter -- plus, you'll get refunds on all of your spending. And think of the new C-note when you want to give a good special occasion gift. All those (literally) bells and whistles are cool enough to make you not want to bother with those troublesome (and sometimes fake themselves) gift cards.

That's about it for advice. But if you want some fun facts about the new (and old) $100s, you've come to the right place.

-- They are drug free. In general, $100 bills are relatively free of cocaine, compared to $10s and $20s, which were found to be laden with the white powder because they're circulated more broadly.

-- They are over there. Roughly 2 of every 3 existing $100 bills circulate abroad, where they have been used as a basis for black market exchange. But gunrunners, smugglers, drug dealers, and pirates have recently started using the 100 euro note instead, since it became worth more than the dollar.

-- They're probably real. Counterfeit cash is a problem, but not like it used to be. Less than $1 of every $1000 in circulation is fake, says the Secret Service. During the Civil War, one-third of all money in circulation was counterfeit.

-- They're here to stay. Some people believe the U.S. should eliminate the $100 bill altogether, because of aforesaid illicit activity. Today's announcement shows that Geithner and Bernanke are not among those people.

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