The next time you cash a check at the bank, the money you receive may look different.
The crisp bill in your hand could be one of the first brand-new $20 bills issued this week by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Thursday, the Treasury will start sending banks the newly redesigned 20s, which will eventually replace the ones currently in circulation.
But the ones you've got in your wallet now are still good. The old bills will remain in circulation, and Treasury officials will remove them gradually as they become worn out.
The 20 is the third bill in U.S. currency to undergo a facelift as part of the Series 1996 currency design. The redesigned 100 was introduced in 1996 and the 50 in 1997. But the 20's redesign is the most significant so far in the series, officials say, because the bill is one of the most widely used -- and most often counterfeited -- in circulation.
The release of the new bill is a significant step in the battle against counterfeiters, said Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin.
"The $20 note is the most popular of the higher-denomination notes," he said at a press conference in May, introducing the new design. "It is the note . . . we use every day to pay for groceries, gasoline or a restaurant meal. Millions and millions of 20s change hands every day. And for that same reason, the 20 is the note most often counterfeited in this country."
The American public is "the first line of defense" against counterfeiters, he said, and encouraged everyone to take the time to validate their money by checking for the newly enhanced security features.
The most noticeable change in the bill is the enlarged portrait of Andrew Jackson, which is placed slightly off-center. To the right of the portrait is a watermark, visible when the bill is held up to a light, that duplicates the portrait. A security thread, also visible against a light, runs down the far left of the bill.
The numeral in the lower righthand corner of the bill will be printed with color-shifting ink, which changes from green to black when viewed from different angles. The numeral in the lower righthand corner of the back of the bill is enlarged, to assist people with poor vision.
The bill also incorporates microprinting and fine-line printing patterns, both of which are very difficult to replicate. The numeral in the lower left-hand corner of the bill has "USA 20" repeated within the figures, and "The United States of America" is printed on the banners beneath the portrait. The wavy lines in the background of the portrait are almost impossible to replicate accurately.
Local retailers are ready for the bills' arrival, and have already started training cash-handlers to recognize the new bills.
"We have some pamphlets that the Treasury passed out, and we've had cashier meetings about the new bill," said Roy Oliver, co-manager of the Wal-Mart on Deans Bridge Road. "It's real similar to the 50s and 100s we've already been receiving, so I don't anticipate any problems."
Cashiers at Kroger on Columbia Road in Martinez have pictures of the new $20 bill at their stations, said co-manager Ken Gordon.
"We've got little flyers at each of the registers that have a picture and describe the bill," he said. "You get a lot of comments, people saying it looks like play money, but I don't think we'll have any trouble adjusting to it."
It is the most frequently distributed bill in ATMs.
It is the most frequently counterfeited note in the United States.
It is the third bill to be redesigned. A new $100 bill was introduced in 1996, and a new $50 note last fall.
About $88 billion worth of 20s is currently in circulation.
80 percent of the 20s in circulation are in the United States.
With the exception of adding microprinting and security threads in 1990, it has not been redesigned since 1928.
The release of the new $20 bill is accompanied by a blitz of pamphlets, training videos and CD-Roms to educate cash-handlers about the bill's features.
Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury