pile of mexican peso banknotesThe Mexican peso is the currency of Mexico and happens to be the eighth most traded form of currency in the world. The peso is subdivided into 100 centavos, and it uses the $ (or Mex$) and ¢ symbols for pesos and centavos, respectively. Its ISO 417 code is MXN. Read on for a brief overview of the Mexican peso’s history and for a brief description of its banknotes and coins.

A Brief History

Prior to the adoption of the peso, Mexico used real coins issued by Spain. The first reales in circulation in Mexico were Spanish colonial reales, and after Mexico gained its independence in 1821, these colonial reales were replaced by independent issues. Under this system of currency, the eight-real coin was a large silver coin called the peso. Then, in 1863, coins that were denominated in centavos began to be issued, with 100 centavo being equal to 1/100th of a peso. In 1866 came coins denominated as “one peso.” Real coins ceased to be issued in 1897, putting the peso at the forefront of Mexican currency.

The Mexican peso remained a relatively stable form of currency in Latin America throughout the 1900s, but with the Oil Crisis of the 1970s came years of inflation and devaluation to follow. In 1993, the Bank of Mexico issued a new peso called the nuevo peso and denoted with the symbol N$. This new peso was defined as being equal to 1,000 of the older pesos. Then in 1996, the word nuevo was dropped from the name of the new currency, and all coins and banknotes issued from then on read simply peso instead of nuevo peso. Since then, Mexico has been enjoying a relatively stable economy, and the peso is one of the 15 most traded currency units.

Since the late 1990s, the peso has seen an exchange rate of between 9 and 15 pesos per US dollar.


Mexican peso banknotes are currently manufactured in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 pesos. Each banknote features a different Mexican historical figure on the obverse and a historic landmark on the reverse. The banknotes are in various colors, including blue, reddish-purple, red, green, brown, and purple.


Mexican peso coins are currently manufactured in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 centavos and 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 pesos. Peso coins feature “Estados Unidos Mexicanos,” along with the coat of arms and the denomination amount on the obverse. The reverses of these coins feature various types of Aztec imagery.