Where can I buy in bulk worthless currency?
January 5, 2012 2:42 AM   Subscribe

Recently I learned that The Sims creator Will Wright stamps his name on worthless currency and uses that as his "business card". I find this very charming as he can keep his cards alongside his actual cash. I would like to do the same thing, with the cheapest currency I can find, but when I went to the currency exchange place down the road from me, the cheapest currency they had was still very expensive. Each "card" would have cost me like, 20 cents or something. Where can I buy stacks and stacks of worthless cash for rock bottom prices?
posted by Sully to Work & Money (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure where you're going to buy old currency. Most banks will redeem old currencies somehow, thus there are heaps of services set up for ppl to trade in old currency notes for current currency, minus a commission.

Other option would be currency from states that no longer exist (East German mark for example) but those will certainly be collectors items.

The cheapest note I can imagine that is currently accessible would be the Rs5 Indian rupee. At the exchange rate of Rs50 to $1, that's 10 cents each before commission. Many business cards will cost more than that.
posted by nickrussell at 2:54 AM on January 5, 2012

This site lets you search old currency by price. The cheapest (0.09 € excl. shipping costs) is a 1 Ruble from 1961. When you order, the shopping cart tells you whether the quantity you want in on stock.
posted by elgilito at 3:13 AM on January 5, 2012

Rupiah are pretty cheap. Smallest denomination is 1000, but that's still something like 10 cents usd. Also, they're pretty.
posted by Garm at 3:13 AM on January 5, 2012

Vietnamese dong should be easy enough to get from a travel agent or a bank's foreign exchange desk (i.e. order in). Try requesting small denominations from a bank. Somali shillings are even less valuable, but may be harder to obtain.
posted by plep at 3:32 AM on January 5, 2012

500 VND is worth about 2.4 USc so see if a bank can order in a stack of notes?
posted by plep at 3:35 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Least valued currency units - if you want a mix of currencies.
posted by plep at 3:42 AM on January 5, 2012

They have notes here priced by 1000 pieces. Some go as low as $120 per 1000. The search "bulk currency lots" turns up interesting things on ebay. It does seem like you might need to buy dealer-sized lots to get the price you want. Maybe talk to a coin dealer in your area to see if he would give you "his price" on a smaller lot of something not-valuable?
posted by ersatzkat at 4:14 AM on January 5, 2012

Best answer: They also have mixed notes by the pound, which are not less expensive than what you found, but the fact of the mix is very cool!
posted by ersatzkat at 4:19 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know if it would be politically correctto use it, as it's connected with rites for the dead, but Chinese shops sometimes have hell money which you can buy very cheaply.
posted by zadcat at 4:57 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about monopoly money?

Apologies if I'm being over-sensitive but using real money, however low value, seems a bit tasteless - I mean, unless it's no longer viable it's gonna be worth something to someone, right?
posted by freya_lamb at 5:22 AM on January 5, 2012 [14 favorites]

are there cancelled currencies you could use? I know Australia used to have $1 and $2 notes that aren't in use anymore but I'm not sure if they're still legal tender, but otherwise that could solve freya_lamb's concern. Maybe something from a nonexistent country?
posted by divabat at 5:38 AM on January 5, 2012

I think freya_lamb has a point there... some people might take offense if you use their currency for business cards.

You could ask a coin-collector shop if they have any notes that that no longer have any exchange or numismatic value.

Could you do like J. S. G. Boggs, and draw your own money?
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:04 AM on January 5, 2012

@divabat: Australian $1 and $2 notes are still legal tender and are still worth their face value, they just aren't being issued. The Reserve Bank of Australia is authorised to issue them but is not obliged to do so--the Reserve stopped issuing $1 notes in 1984 and $2 notes in 1988--see here.
posted by Logophiliac at 7:55 AM on January 5, 2012

Not to coop the thread, but is this legal? I had a rough thought that marking US currency runs afoul of some law. Perhaps not enforced anywhere, but it might be worth checking especially if you expect to distribute your "cards" on international business...

That said, I second the Vietnamese Dong suggestion. I believe I have seen a 200 Dong note in the past - but I'm not sure they are printing new low value bills as most that I have seen show a lot of wear...

On a side note, if you ever get to Vietnam don't forget to check your bank account balance at an ATM - the number of zeros on the receipt can't help but make you feel good about yourself (it also lessens the pain when you need to spend 100,000 Dong for lunch)
posted by NoDef at 9:46 AM on January 5, 2012

Not to coop the thread, but is this legal? I had a rough thought that marking US currency runs afoul of some law. Perhaps not enforced anywhere, but it might be worth checking especially if you expect to distribute your "cards" on international business...

It's illegal to 'deface' US currency so as to render it unusable/unable to be re-issued. Where's George is a good example of people writing/stamping on dollar bills--there's enough whitespace to write in. I have no idea whether other countries frown on writing on currency more strenuously.
posted by hoyland at 11:06 AM on January 5, 2012

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