You’re planning another visit to Mexico and, after rummaging through the drawers to find your passport, some notes appear with “Banco de Mexico” printed on them. You glance at the values—$1000 pesos, $50,000 pesos, $100,000 pesos—and you wonder: so what is $100,000 divided by today’s peso exchange rate?
Mexico encountered two significant economic crises in recent decades: one in the early eighties and another in the mid-nineties. Both events had different causes although each imposed the same penalty on Mexico’s peso: devaluation.
In the 1980s Mexico’s currency was denominated not in ones and tens, but in hundreds and thousands. $50,000 peso notes were commonplace, and in the early 90s, the Bank of Mexico issued a $100,000 peso bank note. At the time, these were worth about US$16.50 and US$33 respectively.
On January 1, 1993 Mexico re-based its currency, removing three zeroes from all denominations and launching the New Peso. A new series of bank notes appeared, looking exactly like the old ones, with two exceptions: the new ones had three zeros missing from the numerals and the words Nuevos Pesos were added for clarity.
In October 1994 a brand-new series of bank notes was released in which the word “Nuevos” was dropped as Mexico’s currency stabilized and people got used to the new currency.
The Bank of Mexico honors all genuine notes it issues, regardless of their date of emission, at present-day values. The present-day value is given on this page of the bank’s web site. For the current value of old Mexican coins, see this page.
For example, a $1000 peso note dating back to the late 70s/early 80s is worth just one Mexican peso today. A $100,000 peso note dating back to 1991 is exchangeable today for a current-day $100 peso note. $1 and $5 peso notes dating back to pre-1975 are worth fractions of a cent and are now no more than museum pieces and collectors’ items.
Stores and retail banks won’t accept the old bank notes; you need to take them to the Bank of Mexico. Unless you have a lot of the more recent old-style bank notes, it may be best to just keep the ones you have as a souvenir, or visit a site like eBay to browse old Mexican bank notes and assess their current value in collectors’ markets.
See Also: Guide to Money in Mexico