They will remain legal tender, even though the Central European Bank (BCE) stopped minting them from the end of 2018, but if banks on the high street receive any, they are required to send them to the main bank of the country which will return them to the base.
Until a few years ago, Spain was the country with the most €500 notes in circulation in the Eurozone, but they have become extremely rare – in fact, they now only represent 2.4% of all the banknotes in use worldwide.
The €500 note was colloquially known as the ‘Bin Laden’ – meaning everyone knew they existed, but very few had ever seen them – albeit, in Spain, sightings until around a decade ago were very frequent indeed.
€100 and €200 notes – green and yellow respectively – were also a regular sight in Spain and often even handed over by bank branches when ordinary residents plundered their savings accounts.
But these have also become rare, partly because it has always been extremely difficult to use them except when buying goods or services of at least their denomination, given that shops and petrol stations often put up signs warning they could not guarantee to be able to give change for payments made with them.
The BCE will release the new design of €100 and €200 notes from May 28 this year, following the same format as the new €5, €10, €20 and €50 notes.
Despite the apparently infrequent sighting of €100 notes in Spain, they represent a quarter of all the euro banknotes in circulation – or around 23% – and are the second-most common denomination in existence after the €50 note.
Yet €200 banknotes represent only 1% of all the euro notes in existence or 4% of the total value of euros in cash.