Monday July 22 2024

Posted by BajaInsider on January 27, 2022
  • Mexican Currency is the Peso
    Mexican Currency is the Peso
  • The new $500 peso note introduced August 27, 2018 will be the first in a new series of more secure currency.
    The new $500 peso note introduced August 27, 2018 will be the first in a new series of more secure currency.
  • The old series $20 and $50 Mexican Peso Notes - Still Valid
    The old series $20 and $50 Mexican Peso Notes - Still Valid
  • The  old series $100 and $200 Mexican Peso Notes - Still Valid
    The old series $100 and $200 Mexican Peso Notes - Still Valid
  • The 500 Mexican Peso Notes
    The 500 Mexican Peso Notes
  • The $20 peso coin is easy to mistake for the more common $10 peso coin
    The $20 peso coin is easy to mistake for the more common $10 peso coin


 Whether you are visiting Mexico or plan to stay longer, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the six major peso notes currently in circulation. Knowing the value of the bill you are pulling from your wallet or purse at a glance can save you from being short-changed or over-paying. In 2018-2019 the Bank of Mexico will be introducing into circulation of the new family of banknotes, the first of which was the denomination of 500 pesos, and the final bill to be reintroduced in 2021 was the $50 peso note. All Mexican currency is currently printed on polymer, with a variety of anti-counterfeiting measures on every note. 

Click here to learn how to identify counterfeit Mexican Pesos


Baja is thought of as "less sophisticated" than most of mainland Mexico and counterfeiters have found the tourist cities a particularly good place to pass off their work. Dark bars and clubs, strip bars, and houses of ill-repute have become commonplace to be passed funny money, anywhere where the staff is too busy and clients are too focused on having fun to pay attention to the currency they are being passed.


You even need to watch your change at supermarkets and gas stations. Unlike up north, a cashier is responsible for the shortfalls in their cash drawer and shortages are deducted from their pay. Being left holding the bag, by accepting a bad $500 pesos note can zap as much as 50% of a cashier's weekly check. When they discover their error they may often try to pass the bad note on to the next unsuspecting customer.


Quick Currency Conversion:

As of January 2022, the exchange rate around is 20 pesos per US dollar. For rough currency conversion divide the peso total by 20. In other words, a 20 peso note is worth about 1 dollar and a $500 peso note is worth about $25.

Take care as we have known many travelers to get 'taken' on money handling on vacation. 


If you receive a note which you believe to be counterfeit your best bet is to take a heavy sigh and turn it in for a total loss at a bank, be very clear that you believe this note to be counterfeit and that you are not trying to pass it. And of course, hope that it wasn't a $500 or $1000 pesos note. 


Feel and count your change and take a glance at each note. It is common knowledge amongst Mexicans that many North Americans don't count their change, and intentional shorting is not uncommon. In part, it is because gringos don't want to look stupid, pawing through their change and doing the math. It is a crime that is easily covered with an innocent blush and an 'Ooopps!" when discovered. Up north we discount coins as 'penny ante' but in Mexico being a few coins short on change can mean dollars worth of shortfall.


Do not accept damaged notes. Bills with parts missing, tape, or even a tear means it is no longer legal tender in Mexico. Damaged notes must be exchanged at a bank.


The New $20 peso note (Video)

Face: The key motif is the image of Don Benito Juárez García (1806 – 1872), who became president of Mexico in 1858 and issued the reform laws with the support of the radical liberals the following year. Because he defended human freedoms, which served as an example to other Latin American countries, he was proclaimed “Benemérito de las Américas.” In a famous speech, he said: “The people and the government should respect the rights of all. Among individuals, as among nations, respect for others' rights is peace.” The image of Don Benito Juárez is accompanied by a drawing composed of a balancing scale in the foreground, which symbolizes equilibrium and justice, and a book, which represents the reform laws enacted in 1859.

Reverse: The key visual element is a panoramic view of the archeological zone of Monte Albán (built by the Zapotec culture), located in the state of Oaxaca and declared by UNESCO as part of the cultural patrimony of humanity. To the left of this scene is a detail from an earring found in tomb number 7 of the archeological site, and to the lower right is a fragment of a large mask of the God of Rain and Thunder (Cocijo, the main Zopotec god).

The dollar value of the $20 peso note today is about $1.00USD and is enunciated as Veinte (ben-te) pesos. ($20 Peso Data Sheet and Security Features)


The New $50 peso note (Video)

FThe New $50 peso note (Video)

Face: The central motif of the composition consists of a fragment of the back of the monolith called "TEOCALLI DE LA GUERRA SAGRADA", which shows an eagle perched on a nopal with the "Atl tlachinolli"* in its beak; It is currently exhibited in the National Museum of Anthropology and was sculpted by the Mexica civilization, under the orders of Moctezuma II. In the background is a representation of the city of Tenochtitlan, based on the part of the mural by Diego Rivera, located in the National Palace in Mexico City, whose name is identified with the ID "LA GRAN TENOCHTITLAN (VIEW FROM THE MARKET OF TLATELOLCO).

* Metaphors of the sacred war, which means water-bonfire, are two opposite and complementary elements.

Reverse: The ecosystem of rivers and lakes is represented by the axolotl and corn in Xochimilco, in Mexico City, the cultural heritage of humanity.

At 20:1:1 today, the note is worth about $2.50USD and is enunciated as Cincuenta (sin-quenta) pesos. ($50 Peso Data Sheet and Security Features)

The New $100 peso note (Video)

Face: Representing the historical process of the colonial period is the figure of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the most important poet/writer of Novo Hispanic literature. Accompanying her figure is a vignette representing a section of the central patio of the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, located in Mexico City's Historical Center, which was a landmark of educational services during New Spain.

Reverse: Representing the temperate forest ecosystem with the pine, oak, and oyamel trees of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, located in the State of Mexico and the state of Michoacán de Ocampo. Recognized as a natural world heritage site by UNESCO is the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

The relative value of the $100 peso note is about $5.00USD and is enunciated as Cien (Ce-N) pesos. ($100 Peso Data Sheet and Security Features)


The New $200 pesos note: (Video)

Face The banknote's obverse is a representation of the beginning of Mexico's War of Independence, with the image of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest who, on September 16, 1810, called upon the population through what is popularly known as "El Grito de Dolores" (Cry of Dolores) and started the independence movement; and, the image of José María Morelos y Pavón, who assumed the leadership of the independent movement after the death of Hidalgo and is known as the "Siervo de la Nación" (Servant of the Nation). The images of Hidalgo and Morelos appear along with a vignette representing the "Campana de Dolores" (Bell of Dolores), which was used to call upon the population and start the independence movement in Dolores, Hidalgo.


Reverse: The image of a royal eagle on this side of the banknote represents Mexico's scrubland, and desert ecosystem found at the Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve in Sonora, designated by UNESCO as World Heritage 



The old $200 peso note features the face of Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz, a nun, writer, and scholar who lived in the early colonial period from 1651 to 1695. Sh

e was the illegitimate daughter of a Spanish captain and a Criollo woman (of Spanish blood but born in the New World). Her works are considered part of the Spanish and Mexican Golden Age of Literature. Her portrait looks very 'nunly' in her habit on the $200 peso note, but an earlier illustration suggests she was quite a babe! She was also a champion of a woman's right to education. She died at age 44 of the plague.


The $200 pesos note is worth about $10.00USD and is enunciated as Doscientos (doz-see-n-tos) pesos. ($200 Peso Data Sheet and Security Features) 

The New $500 pesos note: (Video)

Face: The image, which represents the Liberal Reform and the Restoration of the Republic, is depicted with an image of President Benito Juárez (1806-1972), who issued the Laws of Reform with the support of radical liberals. Because he defended human liberties, an example for other Latin American countries, Benito Juárez was proclaimed “Benemérito de las Américas” (Distinguished Hero of the Americas). The figure of Benito Juárez is accompanied by a representation of his triumphal entrance to Mexico City on July 15, 1867, and symbolizes the victory of the Liberal Reform, the separation of Church and State, and the basic principle of equality before the Law.

Reverse: The image, which represents Mexico’s coastline, sea, and island ecosystems, is depicted with a gray whale and her calf in El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, Baja California, designated by UNESCO as the natural heritage of mankind.

The note has a value of about $25USD and is enunciated as Quinientos (kin-yen-toes) pesos. ($500 Peso Data Sheet and Security Features)


The old series $500 peso note has the face of Ignacio Zaragoza, who was the General hero of the Battle of Puebla, where the Mexican Army defeated the French on the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo) The new note (shown above right) features artist and national treasure Diego Rivera. At first, I thought this a rather unattractive portrait of some unfortunate-looking black lady, but when I went searching for old Diego in Google photos I found it was quite flattering. I guess you have to remember, his main squeeze, uni-browed Frida Kahlo didn't exactly look like Salma Hayek.


The New $1000 peso (Video)
The one thousand peso note is not the largest in the Mexican monetary system, but the largest of the common use notes. Whenever a $1000 peso note exchanges ownership, enough attention is paid that it makes it hard to pass a bad note. But it is also 100% more profitable than the $500 peso note for the risk-taking counterfeiter, so they are out there.

Face: The historical process of the Mexican Revolution is represented by the figures of President Francisco I. Madero, Hermila Galindo, and Carmen Serdán, driving forces of the revolutionary ideals of democracy, equality, and justice. These figures are accompanied by an image of a locomotive, the revolutionaries’ main means of transportation.

Reverse: The rainforest ecosystem is represented with the jaguar and the ceiba and zapote trees, in the Ancient Mayan City and protected tropical forests of Calakmul, in the state of Campeche. Calakmul has been recognized as a natural and cultural world heritage site by UNESCO.

The note has a value of about $50USD and is enunciated as Mil (mill) pesos. ($1000 Peso Data Sheet and Security Features)






All content and images
The Original Online Magazine fore Traveling & Living in Baja

About the BajaInsider