Facts you didn’t know about the Mexican Peso

United States By Christy Lowry Dec 4, 2023

The Mexican peso is the legally recognized currency in Mexico. It’s issued in nine banknotes and coins of different values. If you are visiting Mexico, you will need to bring pesos to conduct transactions. Learn about the origin and history of the peso, its designs and denominations, and how much it’s worth.

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Origin and history of the Mexican peso

The peso was derived from Spain’s official currency, referred to as the “real.” The real were Spanish dollars minted in silver. When the peso was introduced, the most common denomination of the currency was the silver 8-real coin. A peso means weight, referring to the silver weight of the currency. Silver coins were denominated in centavos, which were worth one-hundredth of a peso. After gaining independence from Spain in 1821, the peso remained in circulation. The initial silver coins, and value, were in circulation until the mid-20th century. Following an oil crisis in 1979, Mexico experienced hyperinflation and defaults, which led to the replacement of the old currency. The “nuevo peso” (new peso), referred to as MXN, was valued at 1000 of the old peso, MXP.

What are the designs and denominations of the Mexican Peso?

Mexican pesos come in coins and banknotes. The banknotes, initially issued by the Bank of Mexico, were printed by the American Bank Note Company of New York (ABNC). The Bank of Mexico decided the elements and denominations of each bank note, while the ABNC designed the engravings. The first series of the banknotes came in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 pesos. Now, banknote denominations begin at 20 pesos. Coins start at 5 cents and go up to 20 pesos. Each banknote depicts an important Mexican figure. Current banknotes feature the following people:

  • 20 pesos – Benito Juárez: Benito Juárez is Mexico’s only indigenous president. He was named president in 1858. He held office for five terms, guided Mexico through a French invasion, helped draft the Constitution of 1857, and introduced impactful, reformative laws in Mexico.
  • 50 pesos – José María Morelos: José María Morelos fought in Mexico’s War of Independence. He’s celebrated for his impact in the struggle and leading more than 20 victories against the Spanish.
  • 100 pesos – Nezahualcoyotl: Nezahualcoyotl was a poet, philosopher, warrior, and ruler from the pre-Hispanic period. He was king of Texcoco, which is now in the modern boundaries of Mexico.
  • 200 pesos – Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was a nun who championed women’s rights during the colonial period. She was known for writing poetry, plays, essays, and letters.
  • 500 pesos – Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, two of Mexico’s most celebrated artists, are both featured on the 500 peso banknote.
  • 1000 pesos – Miguel Hidalgo: Miguel Hidalgo is a Catholic priest and the father of Mexican Independence. In 1810, he launched the country’s independence movement by ringing the bells of his church and delivering the Grito de Independencia (Cry for Independence).

 How many Mexican pesos are in a dollar?

The value of the Mexican peso has been increasing quickly, leading to U.S. dollars being worth less in the Mexican economy. The central bank in Mexico has been raising interest rates faster than the U.S Federal Reserve. This has led to an increase in valuation and a narrower gap between the exchange rates of the countries. By June of 2023, the Mexican peso has been one of the top performing currencies, increasing 12% against the U.S. dollar. As of August 2023, $1 USD is equal to 16.8 Mexican pesos.

Currency exchange rates are always in flux. If you’re planning a trip to Mexico, stay abreast of any currency fluctuations, and see how far your dollar will take you. Western Union’s currency converter allows you to calculate currency conversions at effective exchange rates.

Convert USD to MXN

Send money with Western Union

Send money to Mexico, or wherever your family members and loved ones are. Download the Western Union app or go online to send them money. You can also visit an agent location to send money in person.