Torn, burnt or damaged cash? Here’s how to get it replaced

·2-min read
Damaged bank notes
The RBA has assessed bank notes that have shrunk (top right) and warped from heat (left), and even been boiled (bottom right). Source: RBA

Many of us have damaged bank notes lying around - perhaps they got mouldy in the floods, or singed in the bushfires, or torn in half by a curious child.

The good news is these scarred notes aren’t worthless. In fact, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) happily takes damaged cash and reimburses you for your trouble.

How do I get money back for my damaged note?

You can take your scarred bank note into any bank branch, credit union or building society, according to the RBA.

At these places, you can file a damaged-banknote claim.

You’ll need to bring your damaged notes in an envelope or sealable bag with details about the contamination on the outside.

damaged bank note
If your note is damaged, take it to a bank. (Source: Getty)

You’ll be asked to provide more detail about the damage when you make your claim.

The RBA cannot process foreign notes, nor coins, it said.

What if my note is in pieces?

If the note is torn, you may not get reimbursed in full. The central bank will assess each note on a case-by-case basis, and usually pay you for the proportion you presented.

So, if you rock up with half a $50 note, there’s a good chance you’ll get $25 in return.

torn bank note
You'll usually get paid for the proportion of the bank note you present. (Source: RBA)

The bank advised claimants to include as many pieces of an incomplete banknote as possible to ensure they got the maximum possible amount back.

Boiled banknotes to sweaty feet damage

The bank processed around 110,000 damaged banknotes between 2014 and 2021, and made around $44 million in payments.

In all the time the RBA has been assessing damaged bank notes, it’s seen it all.

It’s seen processed banknotes that have shrunk to half their size due to heat, or notes that have been accidentally boiled.

It’s dealt with notes that have gone mouldy, experienced sun-damage and even notes damaged by ants.

One of the most common damage types is notes falling apart due to water exposure after being found on properties or when they’d been buried.

While rare, the ink on notes can even be rubbed off because people have left them too long in their sweaty shoes.

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