The Mexican peso and US dollar are two of the most widely used currencies in North America. With Mexico and the United States sharing a border, it’s common for people to encounter both currencies in everyday life.

Understanding the key differences between the Mexican peso symbol and US dollar can help avoid confusion when dealing in either currency.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The main differences between the Mexican peso symbol and US dollar are the symbols used to represent the currencies ($ for US dollar vs. Mex$ or $ for Mexican peso), and the exchange rate between the two currencies, which fluctuates but has generally declined over time for the peso.

Origins and Brief History

When the Mexican Peso was Introduced

The Mexican peso has a long history dating back to the colonial era. The first Mexican peso was minted in 1821 after Mexico gained independence from Spain. This first peso was equal to 8 reales, the former Spanish currency used in Mexico.

The word “peso” means weight in Spanish, referring to the weight of the silver coins. Over the 19th century, there were various types of peso coins in circulation, including the 8 reales coin, which was also known as the Spanish dollar or piece of eight.

In 1864, under the reign of Maximilian I, the first modern Mexican peso was introduced. It was equal to 100 centavos and was made of silver. This new decimal currency replaced the old system of 8 reales. In 1905, the Gold Standard was adopted, tying the Mexican peso’s value to a fixed amount of gold.

This provided more stability. However, after World War I, the Gold Standard was abandoned in Mexico and many other countries.

When the US Dollar was Introduced

The US dollar has its origins in the Spanish dollar or piece of eight, which was widely used in the Americas in the 18th century. The Continental Congress adopted the dollar as the currency of the United States in 1785. It was originally defined as either 464 grains of silver or 371 grains of gold.

The first US dollar coins were minted in 1794.

The US also used foreign coins like the Spanish dollar and Mexican peso as legal tender until 1857. In that year, the Mint Act was passed, ending the legal tender status of foreign coins and putting the US on the Gold Standard.

Like the Mexican peso, the US dollar’s value was then tied to a fixed quantity of gold until 1933 when the Gold Standard was abandoned.

Fluctuating Exchange Rates Over Time

In the early 19th century, the exchange rate between the Mexican peso and US dollar fluctuated around $1 peso to $1 dollar, since both were based on silver. After adopting the Gold Standard, the peso was valued lower than the dollar. In 1905, $1 USD equaled 2.01 pesos.

By 1910, the exchange rate was $1 to $1.82 pesos.

When both countries abandoned the Gold Standard, the floating exchange rate resulted in more fluctuations. The peso declined during the Mexican Revolution in the 1910s, then rebounded in the 1920s before plunging again during the Great Depression.

In the late 1940s, the rate was around $1 USD to 4.85 pesos. The highest point for the peso was in the 1970s when the exchange rate reached nearly $1 to 12.5 pesos.

Over the decades, Mexico endured several currency crises that caused the peso’s value to plummet against the dollar. The peso has stabilized since the 1990s but has gradually weakened. As of September 2022, the exchange rate is around $1 USD to 20 Mexican pesos.

Year MXN per 1 USD
1905 2.01 pesos
1910 1.82 pesos
1940s 4.85 pesos
1970s 12.5 pesos
2022 20 pesos

The value of the Mexican peso has fallen dramatically versus the more stable US dollar over the long run. However, the exchange rate fluctuates daily based on economic factors like interest rates, inflation, and the strength of the economies.

Both currencies have evolved since their origins in Spanish colonial coins to become the official currencies of their respective nations.

Currency Symbols

The Peso Sign

The Mexican peso is the official currency of Mexico and is denoted by the symbol “MXN” or “Mex$”. The symbol represents the Mexican peso in financial transactions and is internationally recognized. The design of the symbol is a combination of the letter “M” and the letter “X,” which represents the first letter of the country’s name.

The symbol is often used in currency exchange rates, financial reports, and other economic indicators.

The Dollar Sign

The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and is represented by the symbol “$” or “USD”. The dollar sign has a rich history and its origin can be traced back to the Spanish colonial period.

It is believed that the symbol evolved from the abbreviation “ps” for the Spanish peso, which was widely used in the Americas. Over time, the abbreviation was simplified and transformed into the familiar “S” with two vertical lines through it, representing the Spanish dollar.

Eventually, the symbol evolved further into the “$” sign that we know today. The dollar sign is used not only for the US dollar but also for several other currencies that have a similar name, such as the Canadian dollar (CAD) and the Australian dollar (AUD).

While both the Mexican peso symbol and the US dollar symbol have distinct designs and origins, they serve a similar purpose of representing their respective currencies in financial transactions. These symbols are widely used in international trade, tourism, and financial markets to indicate the value of goods, services, and investments.

Denominations and Coins

Peso Coins and Banknotes

In Mexico, the peso is the official currency. The currency is denoted by the symbol “$” and is further divided into coins and banknotes. The coins are available in various denominations, including 10 centavos, 20 centavos, 50 centavos, 1 peso, 2 pesos, 5 pesos, 10 pesos, and 20 pesos.

Each coin features different designs and sizes, making them easily distinguishable. For instance, the 10 peso coin is smaller and made of bronze, while the 20 peso coin is larger and made of bi-metallic material.

When it comes to banknotes, Mexico has a range of denominations available. The most commonly used banknotes include 20 pesos, 50 pesos, 100 pesos, 200 pesos, 500 pesos, and 1,000 pesos. These banknotes feature iconic Mexican figures and landmarks, such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and the Temple of the Feathered Serpent.

US Dollar Coins and Banknotes

In the United States, the US dollar is the official currency. Unlike Mexico, the US dollar uses the symbol “$” as well. The US dollar is also divided into coins and banknotes. The coins in circulation include the penny (1 cent), nickel (5 cents), dime (10 cents), quarter (25 cents), and dollar coins.

The dollar coins are less commonly used and often feature different designs, such as the Sacagawea dollar or the Presidential dollar series.

When it comes to banknotes, the US has a range of denominations available, including $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills. Each denomination features different historical figures, such as George Washington on the $1 bill and Benjamin Franklin on the $100 bill.

These banknotes are printed on a cotton-linen blend paper and have various security features to prevent counterfeiting.


Circulation and Usage

Countries Using the Mexican Peso

The Mexican peso is the official currency of Mexico, and it is primarily used within the country’s borders. However, it is important to note that the Mexican peso does have limited circulation outside of Mexico.

It is accepted as a form of payment in some border towns in the United States, especially those located near the Mexican border.

Additionally, some businesses and individuals in other countries may accept Mexican pesos, particularly in popular tourist destinations. These destinations may include beach resorts or cities with a large Mexican immigrant population.

It is always a good idea to check with local businesses or exchange offices in advance to determine if Mexican pesos are accepted.

Furthermore, the Mexican peso is not pegged to any other currency, meaning its value fluctuates based on market conditions. This can make it challenging to use outside of Mexico, as its exchange rate may vary significantly from country to country.

Countries Using the US Dollar

The US dollar, on the other hand, is one of the most widely accepted and circulated currencies in the world. It is the official currency of the United States and is accepted as a form of payment in numerous countries around the globe.

Many countries, especially those with strong economic ties to the United States, use the US dollar as their official currency. For example, countries like Panama, Ecuador, and El Salvador have adopted the US dollar as their official currency, known as dollarization.

Additionally, the US dollar is commonly used as an international reserve currency, meaning it is held by central banks and other financial institutions as a means of stabilizing their economies and conducting international trade.

The widespread use of the US dollar can be attributed to the economic influence and stability of the United States, as well as the dominance of the US dollar in global financial markets.

It is important to note that while many countries may accept US dollars, the exchange rate may vary from country to country. It is always recommended to check the current exchange rate before traveling to a foreign country.

Current Exchange Rates

Peso to Dollar Conversion

As of Friday, September 29 2023, the current exchange rate between the Mexican peso and the U.S. dollar is approximately 1 MXN = 0.049 USD. This means that one Mexican peso is worth around five U.S. cents.

The peso has fallen in value against the dollar over the past year, making U.S. exports to Mexico less expensive for Mexican consumers. According to authoritative finance sites like, the 12-month range for the MXN/USD exchange rate has been 0.048 to 0.054 pesos per dollar.

Some key facts about the current peso to dollar conversion rate:

  • 1 MXN = 0.049 USD
  • 1 USD = 20.519 MXN
  • The peso has depreciated around 10% against the dollar in the past year
  • The peso reached its strongest point of 2022 in January at 0.048 USD per 1 MXN
  • The peso hit its weakest point in September 2022 at 0.054 USD per 1 MXN

Dollar to Peso Conversion

Looking at the exchange rate from the opposite perspective, the current rate for converting U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos is approximately 1 USD = 20.519 MXN. This means one U.S. dollar can be exchanged for a little over 20 Mexican pesos.

The dollar has strengthened against the peso over the past year, giving U.S. tourists more purchasing power when visiting Mexico.

Key aspects of the current dollar to peso rate:

  • 1 USD = 20.519 MXN
  • 1 MXN = 0.049 USD
  • The dollar has appreciated around 10% against the peso in the past 12 months
  • The exchange rate was around 1 USD = 18 MXN in January 2022
  • The rate peaked at 1 USD = 21 MXN in September 2022

With the dollar strengthening and peso weakening, it’s a great time for Americans to visit Mexico and get more bang for their buck! The fluctuating exchange rate also impacts business and trade between the U.S. and Mexico.


While the US dollar and Mexican peso share some similarities, their differing symbols, exchange rates, denominations, and usage make them distinct currencies. The peso sign and dollar sign are unique identifiers, while exchange rates connect the two currencies’ values.

Being aware of these key differences allows for easier transactions and less confusion when encountering either currency in North America and beyond.

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