Although it certainly doesn’t seem anywhere near that long ago, it was way back on 1 January 2002 – yep, more than 15 whole years ago – that Spain converted from pesetas (which were first introduced in 1869), to shiny new euros. And despite the fact that the peseta lost its legal tender status just two months later, Spanish households still have millions and millions of them safely tucked away, maybe out of nostalgia or perhaps for a rainy day…
As from 1 July 2002, pesetas can only be swapped for euros at the Banco de España (Bank of Spain). However, with the peseta affectionately referred to as ‘La Rubia’ – The Blonde – many people who were reluctant to get rid of the expired currency, simply held on to it instead. In fact, 5 or 6 years ago, a handful of Spain’s rural villages which had fallen on hard times reintroduced the peseta alongside the euro to help boost the local economy.
But that was then. Now the clock is ticking, and as the final day that the Banco de España will swap your pesetas for euros is 31 December 2020, you’d better get your skates on!
According to the Banco de España, at the end of January this year, pesetas worth €1.641 billion were still at large – €842 million in notes and €799 million in coins – equivalent to over 273 billion pesetas, of which it’s estimated that 45% still either remain in the possession of Spanish citizens and residents, or in the hands of holidaymakers who visited the country prior to 2002.