“The greenback.” “Dead presidents.” “The King Dollar.” Since the conclusion of World War II, the U.S. dollar has functioned as the primary reserve currency globally and remains the most extensively utilized monetary unit for international trade. Many falsely believe the U.S. dollar to be the most valuable denomination on Earth. The truth is, the U.S. dollar is only the tenth most valuable currency today — the other nine may surprise you.
10. USD — The U.S. Dollar
USD Conversion rate: 1 USD = 155.87 Yen (JPY).
While the recent BRICS movement is getting a lot of mainstream coverage, the U.S. dollar is likely the most important currency in the world — after all, it is by far the most traded currency. Notably, more than two-thirds of the world’s supply of U.S. printed dollars are located outside of the U.S. That means most dollars are actually spent, saved, and invested abroad — not at home.
However, the U.S. dollar fails to hold a candle to the currencies who base their value on oil reserves (you’ll figure that out below.) Still, you could trade one American dollar for about 16.83 Mexican pesos. That said, back in 2020, you could have made the same trade and received about 25 Mexican pesos. What currencies are stronger than the American dollar?
9. EUR — European Euro
EUR Conversion rate: 1 EUR = 1.09 USD.
When you read the first paragraph of this article and saw that the U.S. dollar wasn’t the most valuable currency in the world, the Euro may have been your next guess. Indeed, the Euro is a very important currency, serving as the official currency for 19 different European countries, the Euro is the second most traded currency in the world.
The Euro originated in 2000, and by 2002 it became more valuable than the U.S. dollar. It stayed that way until 2022, when for a brief moment, during a period of U.S. monetary tightening, the U.S. dollar took the lead. Today, the Euro is back on top — but it’s still worth less than the 9 other currencies below.
8. CHF — The Swiss Franc
CHF Conversion rate: 1 CHF = 1.14 USD.
You may be surprised to know that the Swiss Franc — the national currency of Switzerland, is more valuable than the U.S. dollar and the Euro. Why? While the Swiss don’t back their currency with any valuable oil reserves like some others on this list, they do bolster their currency through strict monetary policy. During the break out of the Covid-19 epidemic, while the U.S. money-printer was running red hot, the Swiss took a bold approach, noting:
“The role of the Swiss National Bank is not to print money on behalf of the government. The bank is independent, and its policy – defined by law – is aimed at ensuring price stability.”
The strict monetary policy of the Swiss has helped push the Franc to the number 8 spot on the list of most valuable currencies.
7. KYD — The Cayman Islands Dollar
KYD Conversion rate: 1 KYD = 1.20 USD.
The Cayman Islands Dollar may be an unexpected candidate on the list of currencies more valuable than the dollar, but there’s a good reason why:
The Caribbean island is a well-known tax haven for the world’s richest to stash their dollars. One of the most surprising main attractions of the Cayman Islands is its absence of direct taxes such as income tax, capital gains tax, corporate tax, and inheritance tax. This makes it appealing to individuals and businesses looking to reduce their tax burdens — and in turn, drives up the value of its currency.
Additionally, the Cayman Islands has a strong tradition of financial privacy and confidentiality. The jurisdiction does not require companies to disclose the names of their shareholders or directors in public records, offering a level of anonymity to those utilizing its financial services. In short, it’s a great place for the rich to stash their cash, and that’s a large part of why the Cayman Island dollar is the 7th most valuable currency in the world.
6. GIP — The Gibraltar Pound
GIP Conversion rate: 1 GIP = 1.26 USD.
The Gibraltar pound, or the GIP, is worth more than the U.S. dollar for one simple reason: it’s pegged to the British Pound, and has been ever since 1934. That means you can swap Gibraltar pounds for British pounds on a one-for-one basis. However, we’re placing it at a lower value than the British pound simply because without the British pound, the Gibraltar pound would be destabilized.
Based on this entry, you can probably guess what the next currency on our list is going to be.
5. GBP — The British Pound Sterling
GBP Conversion rate: 1 BPG = 1.26 USD.
It’s the British pound sterling. The British pound is the fifth most valuable currency in the world, and it’s the most valuable national currency not based in the Middle East. That’s a hint at where the rest of this list is heading. The British pound is currently the fourth most traded currency in the world, with the third being the Japanese Yen, and it’s the national currency of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Many Brits worried that following Brexit — the event in 2020 where the U.K. left the European Union — the British pound would lose its dollar-dominance. However, thus far, that hasn’t been the case.
From here on, unless you’re a currency aficionado, the next four names on our list of currencies more valuable than the U.S. dollar are going to be a shock.
4. JOD — The Jordanian Dinar
JOD Conversion rate: 1 JOD = 1.41 USD.
While Jordan may not have the level of oil resources that its neighboring countries do, it makes up for it with a strict policy on exchange rates and tight monetary policy. In other words: What makes the Jordanian dollar so strong is that the Jordanian dinar is pegged to the USD. Jordan retained a fixed exchange rate, so its currency doesn’t float from changes in supply and demand like many others do. Rather, the government has a tight monetary policy that restricts the value of the currency.
3. OMR — The Omani Rial
OMR Conversion rate: 1 OMR = 2.60 USD.
This is where the currency values begin to spike. Unlike the Jordanian dinar, which is pegged to USD, the Omani rial is tied to oil — an area that Oman dominates in. Oman currently produces over one million barrels a day, even though it only uses about 17% of it.
While one US dollar could have been traded for 16.83 Mexican pesos, one OMR could be traded for 43.66 Mexican pesos. The Omani rial has risen to such a high value that new ¼ and ½ rials had to be issued by the government to keep up.
2. BHD — The Bahraini Dinar
BHD Conversion rate: 1 BHD = 2.65 USD.
Due to Bahrain’s prominent status as a leading oil producer, Bahrain has been able to keep their dollar among the most valuable currencies in the world. Bahraini dollars are so valuable that they are able to peg the exchange rate between BHD and USD to 2.65 — meaning for every Bahraini dollar you have, you could have almost three U.S. dollars. Notably, the country of Bahrain also accepts the Saudi Riyal as legal tender, due in part to their close national ties.
Still, Bahraini dollars are worth significantly less than the most valuable currency in the world:
1. KWD — The Kuwaiti Dinar
KWD Conversion rate: 1 KWD = 3.24 USD.
The world’s strongest currency is the Kuwaiti Dinar. Like the other two strongest world currencies in Bahrain and Oman, this can be owed to Kuwait’s dominance in the world of black gold — oil. Kuwait produces roughly 3.15 million barrels of oil every day, and it houses about 9% of the world’s global oil reserves. Additionally, the country of Kuwait keeps a tight monetary policy, implementing rate hikes to contain inflation, which have also given strength to its currency.
Using one Kuwaiti dinar, you could get 54.53 Mexican pesos, 60.02 South African rands, or even 473.28 Japanese Yen.
But if you’re wondering whether these currencies are on the up, or on the decline, take a look at the chart below for a better picture of where global currencies are heading next.
Six Currencies That Have Outperformed the US Dollar in 2023
In the chart below from Reuters, note that only six global currencies have gained on the U.S. dollar in 2023. Those currencies are the Ukrainian hryvnia, the Colombian peso, the Mexican peso, the Kenyan shilling, the Nigerian naira, and the Japanese yen. Otherwise, most currencies have fallen in global strength in 2023, including the most valuable currency in the world, the Kuwaiti dollar. That said, the Kuwaiti dollar hasn’t fallen nearly as far in 2023 as some standouts like the British pound, the Russian ruble, the Turkish lira, or the Argentine peso.