MPC (Military Payment Certificate)

GI’s used the MPC for Transactions in Vietnam

One of the first things we had to do in Vietnam was trade our ‘Greenbacks‘ in for MPC currency.

MPCs were paper money denominated in amounts of 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, 1 dollar, 5 dollars, 10 dollars, and starting in 1968 20 dollars. MPCs were fully convertible to US dollars upon leaving a designated MPC zone and convertible to local currencies when going on leave (but not vice-versa), and were illegal for unauthorized personnel to possess, thus, in theory, eliminating US dollars from local economies.

Military Payment Certificates, or MPC, were used from the end of World War II until the end of the Vietnam War, between the years 1946 and 1973. MPC’s utilized layers of line lithography to create colorful banknotes that could be produced cheaply. Fifteen series of MPC’s were created but only 13 series were issued…




Filed under Vietnam War

14 responses to “MPC (Military Payment Certificate)

  1. Jim

    do you recall what year and month the MPC changed colors to stop the flood of black market. I believe it happened fo me in 1968.

  2. Charles S

    I also recall the change in August of 1969, while I was stationed near Qui Nhon. The sequence of events leading to the change were, in my opinion, particularly shameful. After encouragement by soldiers on leave in the town to accept MPCs for payment, the local merchants were left holding worthless MPCs on that day, when all bases were closed for 24 hours. All MPCs had to be exchanged during that time or deemed worthless after that. I distinctly recall the townspeople stretching arms full of soon-to-be-worthless currency through the barbed-wire fences, clamoring for someone to take them at far less than their stated value, rather than lose their total value. Needless to say, the trust in MPCs from that point on was virtually nil on their part, while the value of greenbacks skyrocketed. It was a sad state of affairs, just one more example of our loss of “the hearts and minds” of the populace.

  3. One thing no one has mentioned so far is the limit on how much you could exchange. It was limited to $200 for an EM. Even at out low pay rate in 1969, that wasn’t much. The presumption was that anything more was ill-gotten-gain, theft, gambling, or black market.It didn’t matter if you had been in the boonies all that time or merely been frugal, $200 was it. I keep expecting at some point the gov’t will do it again with out current money. Something like, “turn in all your Dollars up to $2000” for the new Amero. Anything else is worthless.



  5. Lazlo Toth

    I was there in all of 1967 and they switched the mpc colors sometime during that year. I learned later this is known as a benign switch, where you get one for one. When you get 1 new for 10, 100, 1,000 or more old it is known as a malign switch, like a reverse stock split.

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