What is a Historical Currency Exchange Rates

Historical currency exchange rates are foreign exchange rates which give traders a historical reference of how a currency pair has traded in the past. Historical exchange rates help many forex traders to discern the direction of a given currency pair. The reports also help governmental agencies and complete international reports.

BREAKING DOWN Historical Currency Exchange Rates

Historical currency exchange rate data is a valuable tool for those interested in the foreign exchange (FX) currencies market. Knowing what rate you are getting today compared to currency exchange rates of the past is a valuable planning tool for looking ahead. Quantitative traders will use historical exchange data as part of their quantitative analysis, which relies on mathematical computations and number crunching to identify trading opportunities.

The public access to historical foreign currency exchange records helps to ensure that the currency reports published by agencies align with information from central banks around the globe and with the U.S. Treasury reports. 

Where to Find Historical Currency Exchange Rates

The U.S. Government provides information on historical exchange rates through the Department of Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service and the Federal Reserve System Bank of New York.

  • The Secretary of the Treasury with sole authority to establish the exchange rates for all foreign currencies or credits reported by all agencies of the government and are also responsible for international monetary and financial policy, including foreign exchange intervention. The transparency over historical currency rates through the Bureau reports also establishes the baseline for conversion for the next three months. The Internal Revenues Service has a limited amount of historical currency exchange rates over the past five years on its website. The site has information on major currencies, such as the pound, euro, and peso, versus the U.S. dollar.
  • The Fed offers information on bilateral exchange for most significant currencies paired with the U.S. dollar (USD). The site allows the sorting of data between 1971 and 1989, then every decade starting with 1990 through 1999, and the most current data file 2000 to present. The historical currency exchange rates listed by the Fed are noon buying rates in New York from a sample of market participants.
  • The International Monetary Fund provides access to historical rate data from January 1995 until the present from its members and related countries. 

Information from the central bank or monetary authority of each country may also be useful. As well, many retail forex brokers provide this information for free, but others charge a nominal fee for this data. Be sure to research before deciding where to get your historical currency exchange rate data. Traders may find cloud-based integrated software programs which compare historical currencies helpful as well.