Currencies and Monetary Terms for Spanish-Speaking Countries

Most Common Monetary Unit Is the Peso

Mexican currency and coins
Pesos mexicanos. (Mexican pesos.). Tetra Images/Getty Images

Here are the currencies used in countries where Spanish is the official language. In Latin American countries where the dollar symbol ($) is used, it is common to use the abbreviation M.N. (moneda nacional) to distinguish the national currency from the U.S. dollar in situations where the context doesn't make clear which currency is meant, as in tourist areas.

Spanish-Speaking Countries' Currencies

Argentina: The main unit of currency is the Argentine peso, divided into 100 centavos.

Symbol: $.

Bolivia: The main unit of currency in Bolivia is the boliviano, divided into 100 centavos. Symbol: Bs.

Chile: The main unit of currency is the Chilean peso, divided into 100 centavos. Symbol: $.

Colombia: The main unit of currency is the Colombian peso, divided into 100 centavos. Symbol: $.

Costa Rica: The main unit of currency is the colón, divided into 100 céntimos. Symbol: ₡. (This symbol may not display properly in all browsers. It looks similar to the U.S. cent symbol, ¢, except with two diagonal slashes instead of one.)

Cuba: Cuba uses two currencies, the peso cubano and the peso cubano convertible. The first is primarily for everyday use by Cubans; the other, worth considerably more (fixed for many years at $1 U.S.), is used primarily for luxury and imported items and by tourists. Both types of pesos are divided into 100 centavos. Both also are symbolized by the $ symbol; when necessary to distinguish between the currencies, the symbol CUC$ is often used for the convertible peso, while the peso used by ordinary Cubans is CUP$.

Dominican Republic (la República Dominicana): The main unit of currency is the Dominican peso, divided into 100 centavos. Symbol: $.

Ecuador: Ecuador uses U.S. dollars as its official currency, referring to them as dólares, divided into 100 centavos. Symbol: $.

Ecuatorial Guinea (Guinea Ecuatorial): The main unit of currency is the Central African franco (franc), divided into 100 céntimos.

Symbol: CFAfr.

El Salvador: El Salvador uses U.S. dollars as its official currency, referring to them as dólares, divided into 100 centavos. Symbol: $.

Guatemala: The main unit of currency in Guatemala is the quetzal, divided into 100 centavos. Foreign currencies, particularly the U.S. dollar, are also recognized as legal tender. Symbol: Q.

Honduras: The main unit of currency in Honduras is the lempira, divided into 100 centavos. Symbol: L.

Mexico (México): The main unit of currency is the Mexican peso, divided into 100 centavos. Symbol: $.

Nicaragua: The main unit of currency is the córdoba, divided into 100 centavos. Symbol: C$.

Panama (Panamá): Panama uses U.S. dollars as official currency, referring to them as balboas, divided into 100 centésimos. Symbol: B/.

Paraguay: The main unit of currency in Paraguay is the guaraní (plural guaraníes), divided into 100 céntimos. Symbol: G.

Peru (Perú): The main unit of currency is the nuevo sol (meaning "new sun"), usually referred to simply as the sol. It is divided into 100 céntimos. Symbol: S/.

Spain (España): Spain, as a member of the European Union, uses the euro, divided into 100 cents or céntimos. It can be freely be used in most of Europe other than the United Kingdom.

 Symbol: €.

Uruguay: The main unit of currency is Uruguayan peso, divided into 100 centésimos. Symbol: $.

Venezuela: The main unit of currency in Venezuela is the bolívar, divided into 100 céntimos. Symbol: Bs or BsF (for bolívar fuerte).

Common Spanish Words Related to Money

Paper money is known in general as papel moneda, while paper bills are called billetes. Coins are known as monedas.

Credit and debit cards are known as tarjetas de crédito and tarjetas de débito, respectively.

A sign that says "sólo en efectivo" indicates that the establishment accepts only physical money, not debit or credit cards.

There are several uses for cambio, which refers to change (not just the monetary kind). Cambio by itself is used to refer to the change from a transaction. The exchange rate is either the tasa de cambio or tipo de cambio.

A place where money is exchanged can be called a casa de cambio.