What does one million pounds look like?

If you’ve ever wondered what a million pounds (£1,000,000) looks like this post may help. Unfortunately I don’t have a million pounds, but I do have one single twenty pound note. Here it is:

twenty pounds

I also have a ruler, a calculator, and a copy of Paint Shop Pro. I’m therefore going to create a million pounds out of £20 notes. To do this I need to know the dimensions of the £20 bank note. Each one is 149x80mm with a thickness of 0.113mm. A stack of 100 notes with a value of £2000 will therefore be just 11.3mm high. Or 1.13cm if you prefer.

Here is £2000 with some mystery legs to give you a sense of scale.

two thousand pounds

Of course your £2000 stack will only look like this if you use fresh new banknotes straight off the printing press. If you build the stack out of used banknotes it won’t look so neat because of all the crinkles and folds.

What does one hundred thousand pounds look like?

Next what might one hundred thousand pounds (£100,000) look like? A bit like this photo, 9 stacks, each with a bit over eleven thousand pounds in it. A nice block of money I’m sure you’ll agree.

one hundred thousand pounds

What does one million pounds look like?

So what does a million pounds look like? I’ve built my million pounds out of 25 blocks of £40,000. Each of these blocks is 22.6cm high. So my million is about 45.2cm high with a single block of £40,000 at the front. One million is made of 50,000 £20 notes.

one million pounds

What if instead of being in a big block, all the notes were in a single pile? If that were done we’d have a stack of notes 5.65m high. To put that in perspective I put the stack next to a London double-decker bus. You can see that one million is a bit higher than a bus.

million pound stack and bus

There are a few more all important questions to answer.

Would one million pounds fit in a brief case?

If we imagine a film or crime drama where the villain brings a brief case full of bank notes to a meeting how much would fit in there? If it is filled with £20 notes then we could fit about £100,000 in a brief case.

If we are dealing with £50 notes then we could fit about £250,000 in a slightly bigger brief case.

As for bringing a million pounds in a brief case – it isn’t going to work.

Would one million pounds fit in a suit case?

With a suitcase you can transport much more serious money. You can definitely fit a million in a suitcase using £20 notes. And using £50 notes you can easily lug two million pounds around.

What would one million pounds weigh?

One million pounds using £20 notes would weigh about 50kg! You’d have to be pretty strong to be able to carry it. If you put it in a suitcase and tried to check it on to an aircraft you’d be racking up some serious excess baggage charges. Luckily you’d have to cash on hand to pay for it!

Using £50 notes your million would weigh about 22kg. This would almost fit into your usual 20kg airline allowance. And if you put some of the notes in your hand luggage you’d completely escape any excess baggage charge.

If we go back to the suitcase example £100,000 of £20 bank notes in a briefcase would weigh about 5kg. If you add in the weight of the briefcase you still have a fairly portable brief case of cash.

What are the bank note dimensions?

For reference:

£20 – A twenty pound note is about 149x80mm, 0.113mm thick. About 1g in weight.

£50 – A fifty pound note is about 156x85mm, 0.113mm thick. And about 1.1g in weight.

30 Comments on “What does one million pounds look like?”

  1. Very interesting, I would love to have these money, spend half on myself and other half help the poor people.

  2. Thanks for doing this. I’m writing a novel about some criminals bungling a heist. It helped me get an idea of what sort of value they could reasonably steal.

  3. I’m writing a murder mystery and needed to know if half a million would fit in a briefcase. Obviously not. Thanks for the info!

  4. I am a multi millionaire, i have read you would like £1m Pounds. So i am going to give it to you just like that, this is no joke. Let me know if you still want it.


  5. This is fantastic! I wonder if you really printed all money and cut them… did you printed back of the note too? Where are they now? Have you ever try to use it? What kind of paper did you used? How did you know the thickness of the £20 note is 0.113mm, such a delicate number. Sorry I got little excited, too many questions. Anyway congratulation for your work. I am very impressed.

  6. Hi Matsuko. I didn’t use any paper to do this – it is all done on the computer in Paint Shop Pro. I just digitally made a small bundle of notes, and then duplicated it many times to produce the large stacks of money :)

    I found the exact dimension for the bank notes from the Bank of England website.

  7. Haha! You tricked me! Or i am just ignorant – didn’t know what Paint Shop Pro does… Now I can see it is a bit of pasting job (your wrinkle of trousers are exactly same, off course) However it is still great work. It really looks real & precise :-)

    I was searching information for my work. If my proposal go through, I may have to print fake note. if I do I will send you picture!

  8. you cant carry more than £10,000 out of the country at once otherwise this would be money laundering!

  9. Thanks for this – very edifying. I was researching this very topic for my novel, and you have given me pause for thought. How the hell will my 4 protagonists collect and transport the £5 million ransom they are demanding? Especially as only 2 of them are going to the ransom drop…

  10. pretty frigging cool! unfortunately yeah, 1 million would to heavy for me to be lugging around haha

  11. so how about having a million pound in scottish £100 notes that would be even lihter and take up less baggage too.

  12. This is interesting, I wonder how this would change with the plastic bills coming to Canada. Should be able to carry more theoretically.

  13. Hello there!
    I’ve just past 1,000,000 on my Bin Weevils fan site – Weevily World. I was looking for images to represent one million to my viewers and came across this via Google images.

    I have nicked your graphic and added your link, from the bottom of the page, to the post. :)

  14. I’m trying hard to imagine what the £80.000.000. that one person won on the euro lottery a while ago? At the moment its hard to imagine what a one-thousand pound pile looks like…Merry Christmas

  15. Used this to save time settling a discussion about how you could buy out Apple corp for cash.

    Interestingly, I think you would only need 298,000 of these stacks of notes to Buy Apple.

    If you bought Apple for cash in £20 notes, you’d have to make a stack 1046 miles high.

    If you used a Boing 747 to put the top ones on, You would have to make 7.5 stacks (taking 40,000ft as the highest you could go in each pile)

  16. Why would you want to take it on an aeroplane? You’d be better to hide it from the tax man. Anyone taking large sums out of the country or having that much in cash would be highly suspicious. Nice article!!

  17. Great effort. I would like to print replicas of £20 and £50 notes for visualisation and manifestation purposes, but my printer refuses to print them. Can you point me to a printable version, or tell me what you changed to allow you to print those notes?

  18. This is an excellent presentation! I think many people don’t find it easy to grasp how big sums of money are. Please would you consider showing us what a trillion pounds would look like? A million times bigger! Unbelievable.
    Anyway, many thanks for your work.

  19. How the hell will my 4 protagonists collect and transport the £5 million ransom they are demanding? Especially as only 2 of them are going to the ransom drop…

  20. Through my work I am lucky enough to have seen what a million pounds of £20 notes looks like!

    The only difference with what you have here is that the old paper notes (as photographed) tend to get so screwed up the don’t sit nice and flat like your pile. So the piles are bigger – and a lot less stable!

    The notes also tend to weigh slightly more as they pick up a fair amount of grime, not noticeable with one note, but over a bulk it makes a slight difference.

    Just thought you would like the input from real life experience!

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