Surprising Facts You Must Know About The Mexican Peso | CompareRemit
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Surprising Facts About The Mexican Peso

Updated on June 14, 2022 12:56 pm
Scattered US dollar bills and Mexican pesos

Are you planning to travel to Mexico or send money to Mexico? If you are, let’s get to know the surprising facts about the Mexican currency.

About the Mexican Peso

The Mexican peso is the official currency of Mexico. MXN is the currency code, and its symbol is $ and ¢for centavos. 1 peso is subdivided into 100 ¢. The peso is also sometimes written as M$, MX$, or MEX$ to differentiate it from other currencies using the $ symbol. The code MXN replaced the former code, MXP.

The Mexican pesos has many local names: lana, lucas, marimba, money, morlacos, papiros, and varos. The currency is minted by the Bank of Mexico, the national central bank. 

At present, the paper money in the denomination of 20 pesos, 50 pesos, 100 pesos, 200 pesos, and 500 pesos are in use. 1000 pesos banknotes exist but are rarely used. 

Most small stores in Mexico may not accept the 1000 peso as they won’t be able to make a change for it. Coins in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 centavos and 1 peso, 2 pesos, 5 pesos, 10 pesos, 20 pesos, 50 pesos, and 100 pesos are in circulation.

  • Currency code: MXN
  • Symbols: $/MEX$/M$/MX$, ¢for centavos 
  • Coins: 5¢, 10¢, 20¢, 50¢. $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
  • Banknotes: $20, $50, $100, $200, $500, $1000

Did you know that the Mexican currency is used as a legal tender in the United States, Canada, and some Asian countries? And the Mexican peso is the third most popular currency in the U.S., after the Canadian and the U.S. dollar. 

The Mexican peso is the 8th most traded currency in the world and the third most traded currency all over America.

The Mexican currency is not just about banknotes and coins, but it also serves as a link to American history. It was the first currency to introduce counterfeiting measures, and its roots trace back to Spain.

Keep reading to learn more surprising facts about the Mexican pesos.

The Origin And History Of The Mexican Peso

The Mexican currency is derived from the Spanish peso- a silver coin of Spain and Spanish America. During colonization, peso coins were imported from Europe.

A "piece of eight" was another name for the Spanish dollar. A real is worth eight pesos. After the mid-14th century, the real was used as a unit of money in Spain until it was replaced by the peseta in 1868.

The Mexican government continued to use the Spanish monetary system after gaining independence in 1821. The Spanish dollar, on the other hand, went out of favor in the mid-19th century. The initial minting of the peso coin, which was manufactured up to 100 centavos, took place in 1866. Despite this, “reales” were issued until the late 1800s.

The coins' gold and silver content were eventually replaced by less expensive metals. The gold content of the pesos was cut by 50% in 1905, followed by the silver content. The purity and weight of silver coins fell from 1918 to 1977 until the last silver pieces were minted.

On September 1, 1925, the Bank of Mexico was created with the sole authority to issue money by minting metal coins and printing banknotes. This institution was also in charge of monetary policy, interest rates, and currency exchange rates.

Throughout the 20th century, the Mexican peso became Latin America's most stable currency. The Mexican peso, on the other hand, had a terrible time in the late 20th century. 

The Mexican economy was ravaged by the oil crisis of the 1970s. The country defaulted on its national debt, and the peso suffered from excessive inflation. As a result, the central bank began minting high-value coins, which eventually surpassed the denomination of 50 pesos, and there were even coins of 1000 and 5000 pesos at one point.

The Mexican government then devised the Stability and Economic Growth Pact as an economic plan. In 1993, the Bank of Mexico created the nuevo peso, or new peso, to help the country's economy recover and combat further currency depreciation. A single new peso was equal to 1000 old pesos.

Once the old banknotes and coins were out of circulation in 1996, the term nuevo was dropped. 

The "new" peso dropped the three zeros from the old pesos to account for inflation in the following years. People still have old pesos, but their value is lower than what appears on the banknote due to the new peso. The old peso bills and coins are no longer accepted by the Mexican people, but they can still be cashed by the Bank of Mexico.

The Mexican peso is still changing. The latest change happened in 2019 on the $200 note, which now features José María Morelos Y Pavón alongside Miguel Hidalgo.

Surprising Facts About The Mexican Peso

The Mexican Peso was the first coin in the world to use the symbol “$”

The Mexican peso was the first to use the symbol “$” on its coins, even before the US dollar. The $ symbol comes from the abbreviation "ps," which was used in the Americas to denote Spanish pesos.

Modern currencies that use the ‘peso’ have a common ancestor in the 15th-19th century Spanish dollar. Because they share the same history, the United States and Mexico utilized the same dollar symbol. Until the Coinage Act of 1857, the peso was legal money in the United States.

Because of its anti-counterfeit design, the peso was extremely popular during the 19th century. The design of the peso became the base of many currencies in Asia, including the Hong Kong dollar, the Japanese yen, and the Chinese yuan.

The first peso banknotes were not printed in Mexico

The first banknotes issued by the Bank of Mexico were printed by the American Bank Note Company of New York (ABNC) from 1925-to 1934. The first series consisted of banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 pesos.

Though the ABNC printed the notes, the Bank of Mexico established which elements and people to depict in each denomination, and the ABNC designed the engravings. The Bank also selected engravings directly from the archives of the ABNC.

Peso means “weight” in Spanish

The Mexican peso is named after the Spanish word "peso," which means "weight" or "pound." This can be traced back to the Latin “pensum,” which comes from the verb “pendere”, which means "to weigh."

Spain had the largest source of silver during the Spanish colonization of the Americas, which is why the first peso was made of silver. Given that the peso was once made of valuable metals such as silver and gold, it's understandable that the currency would be valued by weight. This is also why pesos were once known as peso oro (gold weights) or pesos Plata (silver weights) (silver weights).

Special security features of the Mexican pesos make it hard to counterfeit

All denominations of Mexican currency vary in color, texture, and size to deter counterfeiting and to assist the blind. They all have a hidden watermark that can be seen when held up to the light, holographic optical thread on the fronts of the notes, and contain micro-prints that can only be seen with magnifying glasses.

Not only are the four largest notes the longest, but they are also constructed of a different substance than the 50 and 20 peso ones. The larger banknotes are composed of paper, whereas the smaller bills (50 and 20) are made of plastic.

Additionally, a 20 peso polymer banknote has a 32-month average life, and a 50 peso note made of the same material has a 39-month average life.

USD to MXN Exchange Rate History

If you look at the historical exchange rate charts for the US dollar to the Mexican peso from 2016, the exchange rate hovered around 20 MXN per $1. However, it was much lower in the past.

The lowest value of the USD to MXN was 0.012 in June 1974, and it reached an all-time high of 24.180 in April 2020. 

Mexican peso exchange rate against the US dollar averaged 20.091 in April 2022, compared with 20.544 (USD to MXN) in the previous month. Subscribe to exchange rate alerts on CompareRemit and never miss your desired USD to MXN exchange rate.

Sending Money to Mexico From the United States

If you live in the U.S. or abroad and wish to send money back home to Mexico, exchange rate markups and hidden fees can be a deterrent. 

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to send money to Mexico from the U.S. or abroad at a reasonable rate and transparent pricing. You can save money and time by selecting the right money transfer service when sending money to Mexico.

To know the mid-market or real exchange rate of the Mexican peso to US dollar or MXN to USD, you can simply type in on a search engine or google it (for any currency pair, for that matter).

CompareRemit lets you compare money transfer companies online or on the CompareRemit app to find the best way to send money to Mexico conveniently. Download the CompareRemit app today to get the best deals on your transfer.

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