Check your money: How to save your banknotes when they become damaged

Revealed: How you can save your damaged bank notes – and there’s no sellotape in sight

  • TikTok money expert shared how to save your damaged Australian bank notes
  • TheHistoryOfMoney said damaged bills need to be checked by a special grid
  • Once value of the worn note is finalised it can be sent back to the Reserve Bank
  • Depending on the damage, the note will either be paid back in full or partially

A money expert has shared an ingenious hack on how to save your damaged bank notes hidden among your lose change. 

TikTok user TheHistoryOfMoney said worn notes fell into three categories, which were damaged by either heat damage, extreme tearing or small graffiti. 

The expert, known as Joelo, said unfit bank notes that sustained minor damage like worn ink, small holes or heat damage could be changed at any bank for full value. 

The money guru urged viewers to check for incomplete bank notes – when a part of the note missing – and assess the damage with a special document from the Reserve Bank of Australia. 

‘Place the note on the grid and draw a line where the note ends then count the exposed and partly exposed rectangles,’ he said in the video. 

The document known as the Grids for Assessing Value of Australian Polymer Banknotes assesses the value of the remaining part of the banknote.  

Joelo said the total amount of exposed rectangles need to be added to determine the worth of the damaged bill.   

‘Use the formala = (100 – the number of cells counted) ÷ 100 to calculate the amount and you will need to round up or down to the nearest whole dollar,’ he said. 

If the damage leaves less than 20% of the note it’s deemed as worthless, but if 80% or more is still usable the full value of the worn note will be paid to the claimant.    

‘Download this form and post it with the note to the Reserve Bank of Australia,’ Joelo said. 

The Grids for Assessing Value of Australian Polymer Banknotes assesses the value of the remaining part of the banknote (pictured)

TikTok user TheHistoryOfMoney revealed how to save damaged banknotes by using a document from the Reserve Bank of Australia 

They money expert also showed a severely defaced and crumpled $5 note -classified as a badly damaged/contaminated banknote.  

‘Badly damaged notes also need to be assessed and you need to use the same form and send to the RBA.’    

The Reserve Bank of Australia said they aim to only have good quality banknotes in circulation. 

‘This [our policies] helps to maintain confidence in Australia’s currency by making it easier for people to check the security features on banknotes and make it more difficult for counterfeits to be passed or remain in circulation.’ 

Categories of damaged banknotes 


A banknote that has become worn or sustained minor damage is classified as unfit. Even though these banknotes can continue to be used, to maintain the high quality of banknotes in circulation, the Reserve Bank has asked ADIs to remove any unfit banknotes from circulation.

Unfit banknotes may have some of the damage including:   

– Tape or staples of any kind 

– Worn ink 

– Small holes 

– Heat damage affecting less than 20% of the banknote

– Graffiti, stains or marks   

– Missing pieces less than 20% of the banknote  

– Tears of any size 


A banknote with a significant piece missing is classified as incomplete. 

The Reserve Bank’s policy is for the value of each piece of a banknote to be proportional to the part of the banknote remaining.

For incomplete banknotes where between 20 per cent and 80 per cent of the banknote is missing, the assessed value is rounded to the nearest dollar based on the surface area remaining. 

Badly Damaged/Contaminated Banknotes:

A banknote that has significant or unusual damage, such as:  

– Heat damage that prevents the verification of security features or affects 20 per cent or more of the banknote

– Damage that casts doubt on its value or genuineness

– Contamination from substances that prevent handling (e.g. chemicals, blood, etc.)