16 Foreign Banknotes That Look Way Cooler Than The Boring American Dollar

Steven Perlberg
June 30, 2013

One good way to judge a currency is by looking at how it trades on the foreign exchange markets.

A less boring way is to just see how it looks in your hand, all crisp and money-like.

From epic 19th century leaders to blinding color schemes, some of the globe's currencies use style to make up for a dearth in purchasing power.

Sure, the U.S. dollar is great. But the boring colors and lack of diversity (Every face is of a white male) makes it the most boring currency in the world.

So, here you have it: the world's coolest banknotes.

1. Icelandic krona

With a cartoonishly Nordic look, the krona is fun for the whole family.

iceland krona
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iceland krona

Flickr/Puyol5

2. Angolan kwanza

Simple, elegant.

angola kwanza
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angola kwanza

Wikimedia Commons

3. East Caribbean dollar

 A young, smirking Queen Elizabeth gives this banknote an island chicness.

East Caribbean 5dollar banknote
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East Caribbean 5dollar banknote

Wikimedia Commons

4. Israeli shekel

The colorful "new" shekel redesign borders on glow in the dark (unconfirmed).

new shekel israel currency
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new shekel israel currency

Wikimedia Commons

5. Latvian lats

A direct, bearded figure on a soft red and white background. This currency says, "I'm not the Euro, buddy." 

latvia currency
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latvia currency

Wikimedia Commons

6. Brunei dollar

A stunning currency. Blue and yellow pastels contrast with stoic, mustachioed generals of Brunei yore.

brunei dollar
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brunei dollar

Flickr/LeftoverCurrency

7. Liberian dollar

Liberia's history is directly tied to the U.S., and you can actually see it in the banknote, albeit with a uniquely African color scheme and gusto.

liberian 5 dollar note
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liberian 5 dollar note

Flickr/jmoneyyyyyyy

8. Comorian franc

The currency from Comoros looks like something out of an old painting.

comoros currency
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comoros currency

Flickr/bharathi2010

9. Turkmenistan manat

The manat's purples, maroons, and greens give it a 1980s electropunk feel, but with a certain austere importance to it. Well done.

turkmenistan money
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turkmenistan money

Flickr/evilsoapbox

10. Canadian dollar

For obvious reasons.

canada banknote
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canada banknote

Flickr/leadenhall

11. Samoan tala

Samoa's currency doubles as a travel brochure. Check out that luxurious coastline!

samoa tala
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samoa tala

Flickr/loei88

12. Czech crown

An absolute classic, this currency screams, "Never again, USSR. Never again."

czech crown
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czech crown

Wikimedia Commons

13. Mongolian tugrik

This ancient Mongolian leader is not to be messed with.

mongolian currency
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mongolian currency

Wikimedia Commons

14. Iranian rial

UN sanctions have sent the value plummeting, but the rial itself is a real classic. Staunch leader, big mountain. A simple and effective formula.

iran rial
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iran rial

Flickr/ozz13x

15. Bhutanese ngultrum

Stunning (plus honorable mention for best name).

bhutan currency
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bhutan currency

Wikimedia Commons

16. Costa Rican colones

Sharks.

costa rica colones currency money dollar
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costa rica colones currency money dollar

Wikimedia Commons



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