Happy Halloween! Freaky Money Facts

By Bryan in Money
Happy Halloween! Freaky Money Facts

Get ready, Canada, because Halloween is fast approaching. One of the most frequent pre-Halloween sightings will, of course, be the excited individuals buying costumes, decorations, and party supplies. And how do they pay for those items before our nation’s beloved day of freakiness? We’ll give you a hint, it isn’t with candy.

In recent years, you’ve probably heard a rumour that our new polymer money smells like maple syrup. After a slew of persistent articles and online videos defending the rumour surfaced in 2013, the Bank of Canada declared once and for all that the polymer contains no traces of maple or syrup. While those rumours are still circulating today, most people have gone on to speculate that the scent is simply a result of the manufacturing process. However, there are a number of facts about our both our currency and money in general that are bound to peek your interest in time for Halloween. So, here are 10 freaky facts that you might not know about money.

Traces of Flu Virus Can Contaminate Polymer Notes For Over 10 Days!

Speaking of our money smelling like syrup, it’s best not to put your nose too close to any of our polymer bills, because a lot of them contain traces of bacteria and other types of pathogens, including the flu virus. Since any money, polymer or metallic gets circulated through countless hands on a daily basis, it’s probably best not to bite it like an old prospector would with a gold nugget. While the virus itself normally won’t survive outside the human body for more than 48-hours, it’s resilience on polymer and paper money can last for over 10 days. In other words, make sure to wash your hands after you handle any money this winter!

There Are More Credit Cards in Canada Than People

Being that most consumers now have at least two active cards in their wallets, it’s no wonder that credit cards actually outnumber Canadians by a surprisingly large margin. According to a census done in 2016, Canada’s population recently surpassed 36-million. As it’s been over a year since that the census took place, our population has only grown in size. By the end of 2016, an estimated 43.4-million credit cards were active across Canada. While that’s actually less than the 44.2-million cards recorded in 2015, that’s a lot of plastic and a lot of debt.

Only 8% of Currency on Earth is Physical Money

In this day and age, everything is online, including our money. If you consider that many people across the world would rather buy their Christmas gifts from Amazon than brave the holiday crowds at their local mall, you can see just how many don’t use real cash to pay for things. In fact, only an estimated 8% of the world’s currency is actual, tried and true money that you can pick up with your hands. Everything else is digital money, found only in computer databases.

The World’s Largest, Most Valuable Coin Resides in Australia

In 2012, following an 18-month casting process, the Perth Mint, located in Western Australia, produced the largest and most valuable coin in the world. And believe us, it does not fit in your pocket. In fact, the Guinness World Record-holding coin is 80-cm (over 2-feet) in diameter, 12-cm deep, and weighs a staggering 1,012 kg (over 2,231 lbs) of 99.99% pure gold. Not only that, but the coin’s estimated value is over $1-million in legal tender and over $54-million worth of gold, easily beating Canada’s 100 kg, $1-million coin from 2007.

Over $10-Billion of Pablo Escobar’s Money Was Eaten By Rats

During the height of the Medellín Cartel in 1976-1993, notorious gangster and drug tycoon, Pablo Escobar mentioned that he would lose close to $1-billion each year to the hungry rodents scurrying about his warehouses in Colombia. Since the massive quantities of his illegal funds could not be deposited in any conventional bank and would take too long to launder, the Cartel kingpin was forced to hide bundles of 100-dollar bills away in various locations throughout the country. Over the course of his nearly 20-year reign, rats would tear up, eat, and build nests out of an estimated $10-billion of Escobar’s ill-gotten gains. That’s karma for you. And another fun fact? The Cartel spent over $2,500 a month on rubber bands just to wrap those 100-dollar bills in.

By 1924, Some Homes in Germany Were Literally Made of Money

Following World War I (1914-1918), the Weimar Republic of Germany experienced a wave of hyperinflation from 1918-1924, causing political and economic instability across the country. “Hyperinflation” generally occurs when a country’s currency value is diminished during an inflation in the price of goods and services. For the Weimar Republic, this was caused by the massive cost of resources during WWI. Emperor Wilhelm II and the German Parliament decided the best way to fund the war effort was by borrowing from neighboring countries, with the hopes of paying back what they owed once they’d won the war. However, after Germany lost the war, they saw the value of their currency, which at the time was German Marks, rapidly diminishing.

Using banknotes as wallpaper during hyperinflation, Germany, 1923


By November of 1923, one US dollar was worth 4,210,500,000,000 Marks (and no, that’s not a type-o). As a result, all German Marks were taken out of circulation and essentially became worthless. People then used their valueless Marks to light their stoves, give to their children to stack like Megablocks, and even to wallpaper their houses with.

More Monopoly Money is Printed in the U.S. than Actual Money

That’s right, the multinational toy and game company, Hasbro Inc., based out of the United States, produces $30-50 billion worth of fake money every year for their best selling board-game, Monopoly. All the while, the U.S. Treasury only prints an estimated $974-million worth of real money annually. If only Monopoly money was real, we’d all be rich, provided we actually finished a game for once.

Coins Have Ridges For Two Different Reasons

If you look closely, certain coins from various parts of the world, such as Canada, the U.S., Australia, and Europe have ridges along their sides. In fact, there are two different reasons why many coins across the globe are manufactured with either ridges or patterns on their edges. The process, known as “reeding” or “milling”, was invented in the United States sometime in the 1700’s. The first reason for these ridges is so that a coin’s denomination can be identified by touch alone. The second reason is to discourage people from shaving them. In the early days of silver and gold coins, people would shave them down and sell the precious metal scrapings that came off. This, in turn, would diminish the value of the coin. After milling was introduced, it became next to impossible to shave down a coin without anyone noticing.

Early Forms of Currency Included Bat Guano and Blood

On a note more closely related to Halloween, did you know that at some point in history, silver and gold were not the only materials used as currency? Actually, the first coin, known as the “Lydian Lion”, wasn’t minted until sometime in 610-600 B.C. Before that, bartering was a popular way of getting the things you needed to survive. While animals, seashells, precious beads, grains, and other food were most common, some stranger forms of currency included bat guano and even blood.

There’s Hologram Technology in Every New Canadian Polymer Bill

Want to know a fun party trick to show off at your Halloween monster mash? All you need is a laser pointer and a Canadian dollar bill of any amount. Located on the edge of all polymer bills, just above the denomination number, there’s a small maple leaf with a clear spot in the middle. If you shine a laser-pointer through it, the encoded value of the bill will be projected on the surface behind it. This is a process known as “diffraction”, the bending of light through a prism. If there’s an etching or “grating” on the surface of the diffracted object, the light will shine through to the other side and display the marking in the form of a hologram. In this case, it will be the denomination of the bill you’re shining the laser through. Happy Halloween everybody!

Pssstt. Check out our article from last Halloween, it’s all about financially motivated murders.


All consultations and conversations with Loans Canada and its partners are confidential and risk-free. Speak with a trusted specialist today and see how we can help you achieve your financial goals faster.

Loans Canada and its partners will never ask you for an upfront deposit, upfront fees or upfront insurance payments on a loan. To protect yourself, read more on this topic here.