Mexico Currency Guide: The Peso

The Mexico’s currency is called the peso and originated from the Spanish dollar during colonial times. A peso is divided into 100 units called centavos. Mexican currency uses the same dollar and cent signs as United States currency. The currency code is MXN.

Spanish royal coins were issued in Mexico when it was a colony. The royal coins were called pesos. They were originally pure gold or silver. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, the amount of gold and silver used in the coins was reduced. Today, none of the coins in circulation are 100% pure gold or silver. The most common metals found in modern peso coins includes stainless steel, nickel, copper, zinc, bronze, carbon and iron. Peso coins are minted in several denominations, but the 50¢, $1, $2, $5 and $10 coins are the most commonly used today.

The peso was a historically stable currency until the 1980s. Due to economic instability and inflation, the peso was devalued dramatically. In order to stabilize the peso, halt inflation and improve the economy, the Bank of Mexico introduced the ‘nuevo’ (new) peso in 1993. The Bank of Mexico spent the next three years removing old peso banknotes and coins from circulation. Mexicans were given 1 new peso for every 1000 of the old pesos they turned in.

The new peso banknotes were series B and were printed in $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations. In 1994, series C banknotes began circulation and the $500 denomination was added.

In 1996, with most of the old peso currency removed from circulation, the term ‘nuevo’ was removed from the name. New bills were printed as series D. The Bank of Mexico also stopped printing the $10 note.

During the early 2000s, the series D banknotes were changed in an effort to combat counterfeiting. The changes included adding a strip inside bills $50 and above. A different type of ink was also used on bills $100 and up. A new note, $1000, was issued in 2004.

In 2005, the $100, $200 and $500 notes were given a new feature which assisted blind people in identifying the notes. The feature was similar to Braille although not exactly the same. Since then, a debate has continued about printing the currency with actual Braille to help international users identify each note.

Beginning in 2006, a new series F banknote was printed. The new notes feature a polymer paper and state of the art holograms and ink, which make counterfeiting the bills extremely difficult. Series F bills are the most current bills in circulation.

The Mexican peso is sometimes seen on the US side of the border, and is used to pay for groceries and other items at smaller family owned supermarkets. This is also true for Belize and Guatemala, on Mexico’s southern border. However, beyond these geographic regions, it would be extremely rare to see the peso used as currency.