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New face on American currency? Millennials choose Harriet Tubman; dis Cardi B.

by Varo Bank

April 2, 2019

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Varo Money survey marking Equal Pay Day suggests changes on U.S. paper money are overdue

SAN FRANCISCO – April 2, 2019 The majority of millennials want new faces on at least some U.S. currency and more than half of them (and almost two-thirds of women) say they’d feel better about being an American if at least one of those faces were a woman, according to new survey research from mobile banking company Varo Money.

Tubman favored on $20 and $100 bills

Presented with 24 historic and contemporary women, more than half of those surveyed (53 percent) chose Harriet Tubman to be the next face of the $20 bill. Tubman also received far more votes than any other woman to replace Founding Father Benjamin Franklin on the $100 bill.

The survey was timed to coincide with and bring attention to Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year (in 2019, April 2 for the U.S.). A total of 1,029 millennial men (52.5 percent) and women (47.4 percent) across the country were surveyed, with 65 percent calling for all or some of the faces on currency to be replaced.

"While we did the survey for fun, it underscores a bigger issue we're passionate about which is financial inclusion and equality," said Colin Walsh, CEO of Varo. "Women are behind men when it comes to emergency savings, according to another recent Varo survey. It's unacceptable that women have to work three full months into the year before they start earning what men earn. We support every effort to level the playing field."

Majority of millennials agree women should be represented on currency

Overall, asked if they would vote to replace the current faces on American currency with an American female historical figure:

  • 65% replied, “Yes, some or all of them”
  • 25.6% replied, “No, don’t change anything”
  • 9.4% replied, “It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t use cash.”

Top three: Tubman, Roosevelt, Earhart

Tubman, a leader of the pre-Civil War “Underground Railroad” who rescued approximately 70 people from slavery in 13 highly risky secretive missions, was by far the top choice (59%) to be commemorated on an American paper bill. She was followed by mid-20th century First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (47.8%), pilot Amelia Earhart (42%), former First Lady Michelle Obama (30.5%), Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (27%) and television celebrity Oprah Winfrey (18%).

During the President Obama administration, then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew proposed that Tubman should replace Andrew Jackson, America’s seventh president, on the $20 bill. No woman and no African-American has ever been represented on U.S. paper currency.

While more than half (56%) said a female face on money would make them feel better about being an American, only 39% said it would make them feel better about their own money. Additionally, 28% admitted they didn’t know of the Obama-era proposal, and 27.5% of respondents favored Tubman to replace Franklin on the $100 bill. Roosevelt followed in second place at 16%.

Cardi B., Beyoncé trail

In what could be considered a blow to their fans, rapper Cardi B. (61%), R&B singer Beyoncé (50%) and First Lady Melania Trump (47.6%) ranked as the top three women who respondents said should never be featured on a bill of any amount.

Read more on Varo's blog


Survey of 1,029 millennial adults conducted by Survey Monkey on behalf of Varo Money in February 2019.

About Varo Money

Varo Money, Inc. (“Varo”) is on a mission to redefine banking so it’s easy for everyone to make smart choices with their money. In one mobile app, Varo offers customers no-cost¹ premium bank accounts and high-interest savings accounts offered through The Bancorp Bank, and tech-first features to help people manage their money more easily. As a fintech leader, Varo has been granted preliminary approval for a de novo national bank charter by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and is working to become the first mobile-centric national bank in U.S. history. Based in San Francisco and Utah and privately held, Varo has raised $165M to date, led by Warburg Pincus. Varo Personal Loans are offered by Varo Money, Inc., under state licenses, subject to application approval. For more information, visit, like Varo on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @varomoney.

¹Varo charges no fees for banking services. While Varo does not charge fees for ATM withdrawals, some third-party ATM operators may charge a fee. To avoid ATM fees altogether, customers can use an Allpoint® Network ATM. There are more than 55,000 Allpoint locations worldwide.

Bank Account Services provided by The Bancorp Bank; Member FDIC.

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