Argentina currency questions answered
I thought it was important to give you all a little bit of information about changing money into local currency in Argentina as what and where you change will make a significant difference to the value you receive when travelling in Argentina.
After the end of 2011 the Argentina government imposed restrictions on the amount of dollars Argentine citizens could buy essentially basically banning the purchase of foreign currency. This sparked the creation of the "blue" market for dollars creating a parallel exchange rate. This was not good news for Argentines, but for tourists or expats with dollars, this meant they could buy more pesos for the same amount of dollars, increasing their purchasing power dramatically. So nowadays how cheap or how expensive Argentina is depends on what rate you change your dollars at.
What currency to change?
Without a doubt the best currency to exchange for Argentinean Pesos is the US Dollar, the Euro is pretty good too.
Bring physical dollars (or euros) to exchange. If you withdraw money from cash machines you will get only the bank rate. As such you need hard currency to exchange at the "blue market" rate.
Current exchange rates
A few years ago the rate for ARS / USD was 4 ARS: 1 USD.
At the present the bank rate is approximately 8.5 ARS : 1 USD.
however the "blue market" rate is approximately 13 ARS : 1 USD.
Ideally you want to change your money at 13 ARS : 1 USD as you get a lot more bang for your buck.
Where to change?
1. You can change at banks but you will get the bank rate which is approximately 8.5 ARS : 1 USD.
2. The alternative is to visit one of the Casa De Cambios "Change Houses". These are legitimate shops, that are privately owned, and here you can change your money at the "blue market" rate. While technically illegal they are allowed to operate in a legal "grey" area. It is a good idea to ask someone at your hotel or one of your guides to recommend a good, reliable Casa De Cambio to use.
3. Many hotels offer exchange services. The rates tend to be midway between the bank rate and the "blue market" rate. For example the hotel we stayed at offers 11 ARS : 1 USD. Often it is a good idea to change a small amount of money at the hotel to get you started on your arrival.
Where NOT to change?
DO NOT CHANGE MONEY WITH HAWKERS ON THE STREETS!!!!
Many people are offering to change money on the streets, this is not a good idea. As a tourist it is easy to get ripped off and there are a lot of tricks that can be used. There is also the possibility of receiving fake or counterfeit money.
DO NOT Change your dollars at the airport!!
The exchange houses here give rates that are less that the official rate!
Yesterday I bought a bottle of one of my favourite wines "Cafayate". It cost 28 pesos.
A few years ago at 4:1 this would have been USD $ 7
At the current bank rate of 8.5:1 this would be USD $ 3.30
At the hotel rate of 11:1 this would be USD $ 2.55
At the "blue market" rate this would be USD $ 2.15
So as you can see you need to consider where you want to change your money. I recommend the hotels or recommended Casa de Cambios.
That way when travelling in Argentina your money will go a lot further and you can afford to see and do a lot more.
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