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Understand American Money

Dear ESL Student, The American money system is logical and very easy to use. It is based on the dollar ($

1.00), on which all cash and coins are dependent. There are 100 cents in a dollar. Coins are parts of one dollar, for example: a quarter ($0.25) is 1/4 of a dollar, a dime ($0.10) is 1/10th of a dollar, and so forth. Paper bills are multiples of a dollar: for example, a $5 bill. US Paper Currency The twenty, ten, five, and one are the most frequently used bills. When speaking about money, $1 is referred to as "a one", "a dollar", "a dollarbill", or "a buck"; $5 is "a five", "five dollars", "a five dollar bill", or "five bucks"; etc. Another way to refer to money is to call it "cash." One popular slang term for money is "cheddar." The five, ten, twenty, fifty and hundred dollar bills have recently been changed in order to provide more security features. Both the new and old versions are currently used. The one dollar bill is not being changed as it is not considered as likely to be counterfeited. Also in use but not as frequently seen are the $2, $50 and $100 bills. The two dollar bill is rare - people often collect, rather than spend, them. $50 and $100 bills are not widely used and many places may not accept them for small purchases. You probably won't ever see any larger-value denominations such as $1,000, $500, $5,000, and $10,000. People not familiar with these bills should probably not accept them, because counterfeit, or fake, currency does happen, especially in the higher and more unfamiliar denominations. Store employees may not like the use of very large bills to pay for very small items. For example, try not to use a $50 to pay for a 25 pack of candy! It would be better to pay with a smaller denomination or some coins. If you don't have anything smaller, it is polite to let the store worker know. US Coins The most widely used coins are the quarter, dime, nickel, and penny. Each type of coin has a specific size and design, usually with the image of a president or other famous American person on the front. Quarters have been made with different pictures on their back sides, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the USA, and honoring each state. Coins that are rarely used include the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, and the Kennedy half-dollar, also known as the 50-cent piece. Canadian coins are seen in the northern United States and are also available in dimes, quarters, nickels, and pennies. However, not all stores and restaurants accept them; commonly, the closer you are to Canada, the more accepted they are. Canadian coins may be accepted as equal in value to US coins, but the exchange rate usually places a higher value on the US versions, so be careful not to accept too many. Practical use The quarter is one of the most useful coins. If you are a student, be sure to save these! They can be used in almost any coin-operated machine: clothes washers & dryers, arcade games, pay phones, and vending machines dispensing food, drinks, stamps, tickets, newspapers, etc. Quarters and nickels can usually be used in pay phones and vending machines. Many vending machines will take small bills, such as ones, fives, and tens, but the change you get back will all be in coins. Often there will be a dollar changer near coin-operated machines which dispenses quarters in exchange for small bills. One word of caution: vending machines do not take dollar coins, half-dollars, pennies, or Canadian coins. Credit or charge cards are being used more and more, even for buying small things. Many Americans don't like to carry much cash, and the cards are easy and safe to use. They are accepted almost everywhere, but not at all fast food restaurants! Traveler's checks are a good idea for visitors also. You won't have to carry large amounts of money in your pocket or purse, and the checks can be replaced if they get lost or stolen. Much Continued ESL Success, The creator of ESL Free Lesson


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