Ahead of the 2024 election, some companies online have been peddling merchandise called “Trump Bucks.” The products feature former president Donald Trump's likeness and are being sold in the form of vouchers, bills or checks with a variety of monetary values printed on them, and some include text that says “FEDERAL RESERVE NOTE.”
Other posts say Trump Bucks can be taken to banks and exchanged for U.S. dollars or used instead of cash at Walmart or Costco. This person asked Costco on Facebook if that was true.
A VERIFY viewer also texted us to ask if Trump Bucks are legal currency.
Are Trump Bucks legal currency?
No, Trump Bucks aren’t legal currency.
WHAT WE FOUND
Trump Bucks are commemorative or novelty products. They are not a form of legal currency. They can’t be used in grocery stores and can’t be taken to the bank to be exchanged for U.S. dollars or deposited in an account.
In the United States, the only legal currency is the U.S. dollar, which is issued in paper or coin form by the U.S. Treasury. The U.S. dollar is controlled by The Federal Reserve, which is the central bank of the U.S.
The only way to obtain legal U.S. currency is at a bank, a currency exchange or other financial institution.
Trump Bucks, on the other hand, are sold by individuals or vendors. They aren’t issued by the federal government and are not a recognized currency. Some websites selling the items make this clear, posting notices that indicate they are commemorative or collectable items.
A commemorative object is intended to make people remember a particular event or person and can be bought or given as a souvenir. These objects – like commemorative coins – could have some value and be bought and sold by other collectors, but they aren’t currency.
The U.S. Mint, which makes currency coins, also makes commemorative coins. The Mint says the commemorative coins they offer are not meant for general circulation, meaning they can’t be used as currency and exchanged for goods or services.
American Mint, a private company that sells commemorative coins featuring the likeness of Trump and other former presidents, says on its website, “Unlike official U.S. currency or bullion, commemorative coins are not intended for general circulation or investment.”
That applies to Trump Bucks too; they are intended as a collectible item, but cannot be used as currency.
While the Trump Bucks use the former president's likeness, there is no evidence the products are affiliated with Donald Trump or that the proceeds support his campaign. VERIFY reached out to Trump for comment but has not received a response.
Source of the misinformation
The false claim that Trump Bucks can be used or deposited as cash stems from a number of social media posts, AI-generated or crudely edited videos, and websites.
This TikTok video appears to show a Fox News segment hosted by Tucker Carlson that explains what Trump Bucks are and how they work. According to the video, people need to use real money to purchase a Trump Bucks voucher, bill or check along with a special handbook from a Trump Bucks vendor. Once bought, the buyer can take their purchase to a bank, where the banker can confirm authenticity. If cashed in, the Trump Bucks exchange could be worth between $10,000 to $1,000,000, the TikTok description says.
That video isn’t real. It was edited to appear like a Fox News segment, created using rough cuts from Carlson’s former show on Fox News.
Another TikTok video also looks like a Fox News segment with Trump. In that video, Trump appears to be endorsing the financial system in his name and confirming its authenticity. But that video is also fake; his speech was AI-generated. This video claiming to show Elon Musk endorsing Trump Bucks was created using existing video from a TED interview Musk did in April 2022.
Each of these examples promotes the TRB System, which according to one YouTube video’s caption “is a system that offers exclusive access to various benefits, including Trump Cards, Golden Vouchers, and Golden Checks. It is an initiative created to help people achieve their financial goals and create wealth in their lives.”
VERIFY looked at the website these fake videos and social media posts were directing people to and found advertisements for a TRB System Card promising that Trump Bucks can be used as legal currency. The site listed membership cards that ranged in price from $89.99 to $499. If someone buys a card, they get access to other “exclusive benefits” like Trump Bucks.
The website says, “TRB System Membership Cards are official Donald Trump cards that allow Trump Bucks to be used as legal cash and deposited in places like JPMorgan Chase, The Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. ”
“Trump Bucks can be used as legal cash at participating stores like Walmart, Costco, and Home Depot by people who have the card,” the website goes on to say.
But that isn’t true. Trump Bucks aren’t legal currency. We also checked with some of the banks and retailers listed on the website. Home Depot and Wells Fargo told VERIFY they don’t accept Trump Bucks. When asked, Bank of America replied via email, in bold,“ It is not accepted.”
At the very bottom of the website advertising the TRB System, there is a section marked “Disclaimer.” That disclaimer says, “TRB Card does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (TRB Card), is strictly at your own risk. TRB Card will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website. Our Disclaimer was generated with the help of the Disclaimer Generator and the Disclaimer Generator.”
VERIFY reached out to the website administrator for comment, but did not hear back at the time of publishing.
There are other websites that sell commemorative Trump Bucks, but they aren’t advertising them as currency.
The Patriots Future online store sold 10,000 Trump Diamond Bucks bills – but the website has since been shut down. An archive can be found here. That website said Trump Bucks are commemorative, not real cash.
Another website, Shop-TrumpBucks.com has also been shut down but archived here. At the top of the page, it says “Commemorative Trump Bucks Gold Bill.” At the bottom of the page, it says, “This is a commemorative bill and is solely intended as memorabilia.”