Money Issues: Exchange, ATMS, how to pesos, rates, dollars, and other argentine obsessions…
Since 2019 there is in effect -once again- a currency exchange control in Agentina, this means that there is a 100% gap between the “official” dollar price, and the market price. This means that if you pay $100 dollars with a bill, the value of the payment is $2.200 pesos, while if you use your credit card, or get pesos from ATM you pay the same, but the recipient will get $1,200 pesos, the half. I know that this is not something easy to understand at the firs hand for the average traveler,and can that it may cause confussions and frustration, both for the tourist and for the local service providers, when they get half of what they expected, for their money or work.
Of course you dont won´t to get a master degree in Economics before visiting Argentina, you dont need to! But you have to take in mind the limitations, practical implications, and to understand that when you pay with your credit card or take pesos from ATM, you are getting half the buying power. Luckily, most hotel staff or airbnb people, can explain or help you to get the full price for your dollars. I cannot.
There are legal ways for locals, to buy and sell dollars at market prices, but it is ususally complicated even for most argentines. The government tried to make this option available for tourists (buying and selling their dollars at market price trading bonds), but this was and incredible cumbersome option, so no one used it, and no speccial account of this type was opened at Banco Nación.
You can check all types of dollars at websites like www.dolarhoy.com.
A porteño has experienced this 4 or 5 times in their lives at least, but it is difficult to explain visitors who come from countries whit normal economies and without currency issues. Argentina is an economic rollercoaster, it has been both the cheapeast and the most expensive country in Latin America many times, in the last 20 years. The bright side is that now, if you get the full price for your currency at market price, it is probably unexpensive.
From 2011 to 2015, the Kirchner´s Government installed a foreign exchange control system, which tried to prevent all dollar transactions. These restrictions were completely removed by the new Government that elected in December 2015, but a new crisis forced them to renact the controls in 2019 due another recursive debt run and aconomic crisis.
As I was saying, if you buy with your credit card, you are supposed to sell your dollars at the official rate which is 90% lower than (black) market price which was in theory not legal (many opted to sold them in the black market at market price).
If you exchange your dollars in a Bank, or Exchange Bureau, or buy with credit card you are paid the dollar at the “official” rate, or even when you get pesos from an ATM, you are getting around 80% less than the parallel or bond market price.
Dollars are not accepted everywhere, but many stores, bars and restaurants may unofficially accept them at the day rate.
Converting your pesos back to your currency may pose new challenges, so change what you think you will use.
I hate travelling with cash, people uses less and less cash in Argentina as in the rest of the world, but currency exchange controls make this weird for tavelers.
The actual exchange rate of the argentine peso official rate around AR$120 argentine pesos per U.S. dollar, while the blue/bond/market price is almost 90% more. You can change your money in the numerous Bureaus Do Change (“Casas de Cambio” in Spanish) that sprawled in Buenos Aires after devaluation or many Banks also will change to non-customers, but as cedit cards, will take your dollars at the oficcial price, which is almost the hald than the market pricoe. Most of the Bureau do change are located in San Martín St., Microcentro. In touristy areas and downtown there are lots of “arbolitos” (small trees), who exchange dollars at blue/market prices. I have to warn you that this is illegal, and may unneccearily expose you. Ask your hotel or aribnb staff, people that you trust may offer better advice how to deal with these issues.
For an updated list of rates of the different Bureaus do change visit Dolarhoy.com. You also can find there the address of every Bureau, best & average rates, etc.
There are also, a lot of street exchange traders (people on the street offering to exchange dollars), they are called in Buenos Aires jargon “Arbolitos” (little trees). The activity to publicly offer exchange of currency is illegal for the seller.
Argentine Currency – The Peso.
The current monetary line in the Argentine Republic is the CONVERTIBLE PESO LINE (Executive Power Decree Number 2128 of October 10th 1991 and Article 12 of Convertibility Law Number 23-928 of March 27th 1991).
The peso was convertible one to one with the dollar until February 2002, when by Decree 214/2002 this convertibility was broken. Now the peso floats in the open market. The convertible denomination sound as a joke nowadays, but it lasted 10 years.
In 2012 President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner issued a new 100 pesos bill, with Evita portrait in one face of the bill. This bill is not yet very common, but it is schedule to replace sometime the old 100 bill with Julio A. Roca. Both bill continue in force.
After 2016 a new series with local animals was issued, with values of 20, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos.A new issue with argentine local animals was printed in 2015-19 (a $1000 bird, $200a whale, 50 pesos condor, and 20 pesos guanaco -which is a kind of llama that spits at you-. The government plans to replace the animals with argentina patriots in the nexts 6 months, but a t the current inflation pace, bill with new denominations may be neccesari
To check pictures of all denaminationas you can visit the Central Bank website: