Like all Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs, aka "bills" or "cash"), the $2 FRN is "legal tender for all debts, public and private."

part of a $2 bill, showing the "legal tender" text

However, a lot of people don't know about them. If I owe someone $10, and all I have is five $2 bills, is it legal for him to refuse to accept them because he's sure that $2 bills don't exist and they must be counterfeit? Assume that for some reason, he can't just Google "$2 bill" and see that they're real.

  • 5
    I can only assume that counterfeit bills have "legal tender for all debts, public and private" on them as well. Would you expect this person to accept a hundred dollar bill if they suspect it's counterfeit?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Aug 12, 2022 at 17:40

1 Answer 1


If the requirement for the debt is that the debt be paid in US dollars, absent some other stipulation to the contrary, $2 bills are US dollars and would satisfy the debtors obligation.

It's hard to envision a situation where one would go before a judge or magistrate to enforce one's right to pay a debt with a $2 bill, but I suppose that effort would be successful. A debt that is to be paid in US dollars can be paid in $2 bill increments.

  • 3
    Is this different from trying to pay with a $10 bill and the vendor thinking it's counterfeit? Who has the burden of proof? What about places that say they won't accept bills larger than $50? Or they won't accept a $500 bill because making change would be onerous?
    – Barmar
    Aug 12, 2022 at 13:54
  • 4
    @Barmar Q1: no, I don't think it's any different. Q2: this is the much-discussed difference between offering payment to discharge a debt, and offering payment for goods or services when a debt doesn't yet exist (for instance, in a store when you haven't taken the goods away and still have the possibility to leave them behind). In one case, the merchant may not be easily able to refuse: in the other they can. Q2.5: legal tender may also require exact payment, or at least non-onerous changemaking. Search this site for more.
    – hobbs
    Aug 12, 2022 at 14:17
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    @hobbs I would think that legal tender doesn't impose any obligation to make change. If you owe me $49, and you offer me a $50 bill, I am free to tell you that I won't make change, and you can either find other bills, or pay me $50. Aug 12, 2022 at 17:18
  • Say a owe you $10,000 and I offer you 100 $100 notes as payment that you suspect might be forged. You can take the money straight to the bank, and if they tell you the banknotes are forged, I still owe you $10,000. So if you know me and where I live, and I have no other payment, you could accept these notes carefully.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 12, 2022 at 22:11
  • @gnasher729 wouldn't you be on the hook for bringing forged notes to the bank (regardless where you got them from)?
    – Esther
    Aug 16, 2022 at 21:35

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