Mexican pesos bills piled together

The history and value of the Mexican peso

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The Mexican peso has a rich and influential history

The Mexican peso (MXN, $) is the official currency of Mexico. It’s the 8th most traded currency in the world and the most traded currency in Latin America. The Mexican peso was the first currency in the world to use the $ sign, even before the US dollar, and its design inspired much of the US currency that’s used today. Mexican pesos are only used in Mexico, but are accepted in US border towns at certain stores like Walmart, Circle K and La Bodega.

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Value and exchange rates of the Mexican peso

For much of the 20th century, the Mexican peso had been a stable currency, avoiding much of the hyperinflation that many countries in Latin America experienced. However, in the early 1980s, Mexico did default on external debt after the Oil Crisis. This resulted in a decline of capital financing in the region and many years of inflation and devaluation. Between the passing of the “Stability and Economic Growth Pact” and the introduction of a new currency, the “new peso” in 1993, the Mexican peso gained strength again. The growth of foreign investments and the strong economy has led the Mexican peso to be among the 15 most traded currencies in the world.

The table below gives you an indication of how the peso has fluctuated in value against some major currencies.

US dollar0.15660.10570.14630.07910.0857
Pound sterling0.09920.06990.08080.05120.0564
Canadian dollar0.21510.15710.17740.08150.1083
Chinese renminbi yuan0.21510.15710.17740.08150.1083

All values are yearly averages.

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History of the Mexican peso

The Mexican peso is one of the oldest currencies in North America and was used in Mexico, Canada and the United States until the mid-1800s. It originated from the Spanish real pieces of eight that were issued by the Spanish government during colonization. The Mexican peso was the model for the Singapore and Brunei dollar as well as the Hong Kong dollar, Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan.

The first banknotes were made in 1823 by Emperor Iturbide in denominations of 1, 2, and 10 pesos. In 1866, Emperor Maximilian issued 10 peso notes. The centavos, worth one-hundredth of the peso, was issued in 1863, followed by one peso coins in 1866. Spanish reales continued to be issued until 1897 alongside the peso.

Money was issued by local authorities and private banks until the 1920s until 1925, the Bank of Mexico was created to serve as the nation’s central bank to achieve stability and be able to compete in the national foreign exchange market.

The new peso

In 1993, the new peso or nuevos pesos, were introduced in 10, 20, 50 and 100 centavos, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 nuevos pesos. The 5 and 10 centavos contained stainless steel, while the 20 and 50 centavos were made of aluminum bronze. The nuevo peso denominations were bimetallic, with the 1, 2 and 5 nuevos pesos having aluminum bronze centers and stainless steel rings, and the 10, 20 and 50 nuevos pesos having .925 silver centers and aluminum bronze rings.

President Carlos Salinas de Gortari removed the old pesos from circulation over a three year period, having people trade in their old notes for new ones.

By 1996, the word nuevo was removed from the currency and retired from circulation. New 10 pesos were introduced with base metal replacing the silver center. The 20, 50, and 100-peso coins are the only currently circulating coinage in the world to contain any silver.

The Bank of Mexico released $100 coin in 2003; 32 versions to represent each of the nation’s 31 states and the Federal District. The obverse has an image of the traditional Mexican coat of arms, and the reverse shows the individual state coat of arms. These coins are treated as collectibles rather than currency, mainly because people feel uneasy about having such a large amount of money in a mere coin.

Most coins in circulation are the 50¢, $1, $2, $5, and $10. The smaller coin denominations, 5¢, 10¢ and 20¢ are uncommon because they are worth so little. Markets ask their customers to round up the total to the nearest 50¢ or 1 peso, and donate the difference to charities.

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    bryantJuly 1, 2019

    I have 5,240 pesos. Can I exchange that for US currency and does the peso lose its value of years or presidents?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoJuly 2, 2019Staff

      Hi Bryant,

      Thanks for your inquiry and for visiting our page.

      You can exchange pesos to US dollars in your country for as long as the money is still in circulation. If it is still in circulation, the value of money may increase or decrease depending on the conversion rate on the day it was exchanged to a different currency. You can refer to this page as it provides tips on finding the best exchange rates.

      Hope this helps! For any further questions, feel free to reach out to us again, we’re here to help.


  2. Default Gravatar
    ekjohnson2000@yahoo.comDecember 17, 2018

    how big was the one paso coin in 1969

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoDecember 19, 2018Staff

      Hi EK,

      Thanks for getting in touch! We don’t have the information on the size of the 1 peso coin in 1969. You could do a web search for the size of the coin for the moment. Hope this clarifies. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.


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