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March 24, 2009

Why don't more bars cash $100 bills?

it's all about the benjamins, baby

A couple years ago, I went to Italy to visit some family and see some sights.

While I was there, I noticed that everybody demanded exact change. It drove me nuts. If I bought a sandwich for 6 Euros and tried to pay with a 10 Euro note, they would freak out.

That doesn't happen here in the states. At least not that often. 

But I have heard from several people that it's incredibly hard to get a Baltimore bar to take a $100 bill.

I don't roll deep like that, so I don't know from personal experience ...

I'm sure that depends on how much the customer with the $100 has spent in a bar. I mean, buying one $3 beer and trying to pay for it with a Benjamin is more than a little ludicrous.

But I think that if you spend more than $30 in a bar, they should break your $100 -- especially if it's a Friday. I know bars aren't banks, but a lot of people get paid in $100 bills on Fridays and want to go out to the bars to spend that moolah, daddio. 

And what kind of message does it send if, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, you can't drop a Franklin on the bar and expect them to break it?

I rest my case.

(Sun archive photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:49 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


got one broken at ra last thursday! but you're right, they're often refused.

too many counterfeits? too little change in the till?

I think the real reason is that since it is uncommon, they might think it is a 20 and give you change accordingly. That happened to me in Ocean City once. I got the bartenders attention and he corrected it, but still, room for error.

Most important reason would be too many counterfeit bills. Not worth the risk. Also if you start out the night with $200 in your till, after one transaction, half your change is one bill.

ted, so, why can't they just start out with more $$ in the till?

Quick answer is more money, more mistakes. The drawer you use to on a Friday night might be used for Saturday afternoon or Monday night. The same amount in the drawer each time, the less mistakes.

If possible i never reject a 100 bill... BUT sam your point on starting with more in the till is kinda right, but would you want all 5s and 1s back? Also, the more you start with in the till the more of a risk you have of being robbed and losing more etc.... also in all my years of running bars ive run across alot of counterfeits and thats 100 dollars your out of if its fake... But i always try to take a Benjamin if i have the change for it

On a somewhat related topic....Have you ever noticed that you're more reluctant to buy something that requires you to break a $100 than if you had five $20s? I know I am. Once you break that $100 it seems to be a matter of minutes before it's spent!

I know of someone who got burned by making change of a $100 bill in the dim light of a Ground Round, only to discover it was counterfeit next day at the bank.

Also in taking them, it depleates the number of smaller bills on hand to make change.

Good point Cardwell! This was on the Consuming interest blog last week:
Very true, I fell into this trap last Sunday!


"a lot of people get paid in $100 bills on Fridays"

What kind of world do yo live in?
Most people I know get paid by direct deposit and some by check. If you're going to cash a check to have pocket money you should know enough to get a fair number of smaller bills. Paying for everything with fifties and hundreds unfairly puts the responsiblity to have a lot of cash on hand by every merchant, unless of course, you spend like 80% most of the time.

it's stupid, any bar in NYC and NJ and Philly will break it. It's Smalltimore again.

About the last year a lot of bars are getting $100.00 bills on $5.00 paper, so when you mark the bill it shows it is good. Bars tend to be darker, harder to see the bill markings, additionally I am sure they try and pass the bills when we are two and three deep at the bar in the first place, vs a well lit supermarket or other establishment..


Don't expect me to say "I wish we were more like New Jersey" anytime soon.


We need more ignorant people like you to prove silence is golden.

I don't pay with $100 bills very often, but I've never had a problem when the situation has come up. Then again, I've almost never had a bar tab under $40 or $50. Everybody wins but my liver.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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