Money in Argentina: Currency Exchange, the Blue Dollar, and Getting the Best Rate

Updated February 2024

When I first arrived in Argentina in 2010, a peso could get a medialuna (my personal fatty benchmark for inflation).

Today you’ll need 300, minimum, for one buttery treat.

To say money in Argentina is complicated would be putting it mildly.

Inflation in Argentina is at an all time high right now and this level of economic volatility isn’t something that most North Americans or Europeans are used to.

There are times when travel to Argentina is very expensive and other times that it is very affordable for those coming from the Northern Hemisphere.

Right now, in early 2024 with Milei as the new president it seems that the country will be shifting away from being the “bargain basement destination” many foreigners have grown accustomed to in recent years.

Why?

Well, keep reading to find out.

This article includes everything you need to know about travel and money in Argentina.

You’ll find this article useful whether you’re here on holiday or plan on living in Buenos Aires.

What is the dollar blue and does it still exist? Where to exchange money in Buenos Aires and get the best rate?

QUICK NOTE: This post contains affiliate links and Sol Salute may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, at no extra cost to you.

Currency in Argentina: The Peso vs. The Dollar

The official currency in Argentina is the Argentinian Peso.

It’s often denoted also with the same sign as the dollar, $, which is differentiated as U$100 vs $100 [Pesos].

And while the peso is the official currency here, Argentines have always maintained an ongoing love affair with the US dollar.

A volatile economy pushes many to “invest” in US dollars as a way to keep their savings stable and safe from inflation.

This puts an unhealthy and unnatural demand on foreign currency and depreciates the peso.

Many presidents, including the previous President Fernandez, put very strict currency controls in place, such as freezing the official value of the peso at a very artificial rate.

To be redundant, the official value of the peso was not free floating with the market.

Also, the government limited how many USD Argentina citizens could purchase from the bank each month.

The demand for dollars and the restrictions limiting access to them creates a parallel exchange rate, referred to as the blue dollar.

And this blue dollar will also exist, even if the official rate is not controlled.

Why? This is Argentina, and there will always be a market for undeclared and “non-taxed” money.

It is what it is, I already said it’s complicated.

Read Next: A Guide to Tipping in Argentina

Milei & The Big Devaluation: What does it mean?

On December 10, 2023 Javier Milei took office as the new president of Argentina after running on a platform of extreme monetary policy changes.

His main promise was to dollarize the economy and virtually throw the peso into the garbage.

That hasn’t happened yet and if it does happen, it will take some years to create the conditions to even be able to consider it as a possibility.

One of Milei’s first actions after he took in office was to devalue the official currency from 366 pesos to 800 pesos to the dollar.

If you live in Argentina, you’re living the reality of prices increasing every single day.

If you’re coming on vacation, it will also affect you but differently, and not as hard as it is affecting locals trying to get to the end of the month.

How does this affect me as a tourist to Argentina?

If the currency just devalued, shouldn’t things be cheaper!?

This is a question I got a lot but in reality, prices are increasing daily here.

If you’re renting a car, gas prices have increased triple from just a few months ago.

Restaurants will increase their prices as the prices of their ingredients (even beef) go up, etc.

Hotels and tours priced in dollars were always expensive and now the gap between the official and blue dollars has narrowed such that you can’t bring that price down with the blue dollar spread anymore as you could in the past few years.

So, expect things to get more expensive, but by how much?

We’ll have to wait and see.

As of Late February 2024, prices are more than last year but still remain affordable for those accustomed the costs of the US or Europe.

So, What is the current exchange rate?

First, click here check the current exchange rates (official, blue, and MEP).

In Argentina, there are a lot of exchange rates, it can be dizzying even for locals.

Ignore all of the rates you see except for:

  • Dolar oficial – The official exchange rate, this is the rate set by the national bank.
  • Dolar blue – The parallel unofficial exchange rate that exists due to currency controls on the official rate. This is the most free market dollar based on demand, the “real” dollar according to most locals.
  • Dolar MEP (Visa & MC) – The dolar MEP is similar to the blue rate in value, at the moment if you use a foreign (not Argentine) Visa or Mastercard in Argentina, you will be charged close to this rate, confirm exact rate here.
  • CCL – This is the rate Western Union uses as a reference

If you’ve done any minimal research into your trip to Argentina, you’ve likely heard of the blue dollar.

The “dolar blue” is the unofficial exchange rate that runs parallel to the official rate.

At the time of editing this (February 2024) the spread between the two rates is narrow thanks to Milei’s devaluation, at roughly $800 pesos to the dollar at the official rate versus hovering around $1000 pesos to the blue dollar.

At times the MEP and CCL surpass the blue, making credit cards and Western Union the best rates. Other times, the blue takes the lead. It varies but the difference can be minimal or great, check the rates regularly.

How to Get Cash & Exchange Money in Argentina

Time to get down to it, how do you access cash in Argentina and get the most favorable exchange rate?

I’ll start with the most recommended methods and work my way down to the less desirable options.

TLDR: How to get cash – Updated February 19, 2024

This article has a ton of information in it but it can be overwhelming. I get regular questions on “but how specifically should I get pesos/spend money?” So, here you go, a quick answer.

I’ll update this if/when it changes. Ranked by beneficial rate/ease of use:

  1. Use your Visa & Mastercard: For years using your foreign credit card was NOT recommended but those days are gone (praise be). The rate as of late February 2024 is very good on Visa and MC. Check daily rate here, lately it has been very near the blue rate if not at time on par with it.
  2. Western Union: Yes, this remains the best option. Lately the rate has been on par with or higher (gasp!) than the Blue Dollar, it varies daily. Take into account the transfer fees but overall, it’s offering high rates lately (and your first transfer is free, take advantage).
  3. Exchange dollar bills in Cuevas: The good ole classic, you can avoid WU fees and lines by changing money in person. You always want some cash on your in Argentina for small shops and because many shops/restaurants offer cash discounts (or fees for using a CC, tomato-tomah-to).

Western Union in Argentina

An easy way to access a near blue dollar rate in Buenos Aires and other major cities in Argentina is via Western Union.

This is ideal because they not only offer one of the best rates, but it’s also a service you’re likely already familiar with and can trust.

WU offers a rate that hovers around the blue rate (using the Contado Con Liqui rate as a reference), sometimes higher, sometimes lower.

Quick Western Union Tips

  • Always put your FULL name as it appears on your ID/Passport, don’t leave your middle name out if it’s on your ID.
  • Bring your passport to pick up your WU transfer, small cities may ask you to bring your own photocopy.
  • This is not typically an exchange house for exchanging money in person.
  • You will wire yourself money using a credit card, debit card, or bank account. Check with your credit card about possible fees from the end.
  • Debit and credit card wires tend to be immediate. Bank transfers can take 4-5 business days.

Western Union in Small Cities

Smaller cities, like El Calafate or Puerto Iguazu, have WU locations but have limits set at under the equivalent of $200 US.

To answer a frequently asked question, no.

You cannot send yourself a big transfer and pick up just a fraction of it (getting the rest later).

Also, these smaller cities often have a lot of demand meaning long lines and low reserves.

Sometimes it’s better in this smaller cities to cash out at the end of the day, banking on (pun intended) them having received a lot of payments throughout the day.

Even better, though, is to have cash in these places to avoid the lines and exchange in cuevas, more on that later.

Or, if you’ll be in Buenos Aires first, do a large transaction there and bring your pesos with you.

This isn’t to say you won’t be able to use WU outside of Buenos Aires, far from it.

But if you’re only in these destinations for a short time, I’d hate for you to waste a couple hours of that precious time in a Western Union line or have a hard time getting the cash if they’re out.

Cash Tip: Get a Money Belt

RFID Blocking Travel Wallet - Money Belt & Passport Holder, Travel Fanny Pack for Women Men - Black

With the largest bill (2,000 pesos) being worth around four dollars, it’s inevitable that you’ll always have a lot of cash on you.

It’s a good idea to bring a money belt to keep your stack of cash safe.

  • Classic Money Belt | This money belt is the most common way to safely keep your money tucked away when you’re out and about in the city. You can also keep your passport safe for when you need to bring it to Western Union (other than for this purpose, I recommend never taking your passport out of the hotel with you!).
  • TSA Approved Lock | It’s always a good idea to have a lock on your suitcase. If you will have a lot of cash in your suitcase when you leave your belongings at the hotel and hostel, lock it up. Most hotels will have a safe, use that. If it doesn’t, put your valuables/cash in your suitcase and lock it.
  • Money/Passport Scarf | This infinity scarf is a great alternative and it’s a lot easier to access your cash than from the belt under your shirt.
  • Money Bra Clip | This one is for the ladies and it doesn’t seem very comfortable but can be practical if the classic money belt doesn’t work for you.

Cuevas

Cuevas (or caves) are the name for unofficial currency exchange houses.

You will find them all over Argentina.

To discover a trustworthy cueva, I recommend asking your hotel, Airbnb hosts, or tour guides.

Anyone hyper-local to where you’ll be is ideal.

And you never know, maybe they themselves will end up exchanging money with you, eliminating the need for a cueva completely.

I recommend always having some crisp, green USD on hand, just in case.

Even if you’re relying mainly on Western Union, you’ll be grateful to have physical cash to exchange if you find yourself in a pinch in a tiny town miles from a WU office.

IMPORTANT: In Argentina, it’s not just dollars that matter but the quality of the dollars. They want crisp, unmarked, untorn one hundred dollar bills. Even better if they’re the new “big head” design. Don’t ask, even I don’t understand it 13 years later.

Where to Exchange Money in Ezeiza International Airport

If you need cash the second you land, you do have a couple options in the Buenos Aires airport.

There is a Banco La Nacion office in the airport.

Use them in a limited manner as you’ll receive the official rate.

The easiest thing to do is to have your airport transfer reserved ahead of time.

This way you avoid the hassle of lines at the taxi booths and can benefit from their other services, as many can take you somewhere trustworthy to exchange dollars first thing.

Otherwise, the taxi booths in the airport do accept credit cards. I’d pay with a Visa or Mastercard, they have a favorable rate.

Worry about getting more cash once you’re in the city and rested from your travels.

Arbolitos & Calle Florida: Buenos Aires Currency Exchange

Calle Florida is located in downtown Buenos Aires.

This pedestrian street is always busy, lined with shops and cafes.

It’s also bustling with unofficial currency exchange representatives called Arbolitos, or little trees.

The name comes from the green dollars, aka leaves, that they specialize in.

Exchanging money in Buenos Aires with these arbolitos is very common and many readers comment on doing this with no trouble at all.

However, it’s not my preferred method.

You’ll follow your arbolito to their cueva and have to trust that you’re not being given counterfeit notes or that they’re not alerting a buddy outside to rob you as you head back out, pockets full of pesos.

If you go the arbolito route, start with a small amount and go from there.

If they prove trustworthy you can always go back again for more.

The benefit to Calle Florida, though, is being able to negotiate your rate.

If you don’t like what one arbolito offers, you can saunter on to the next guy and push for more.

Visa & Mastercard Rates: Using Debit & Credit Cards in Argentina

Until late 2022, it was not recommended to use your foreign credit card in Argentina as you would be charged the official rate.

This is still HALF true.

The previous government started a new initiative in late 2022 with Visa and Mastercard where you will be charged near the MEP rate if you use a foreign Visa or MC (who use the MEP rate as a reference).

Confirm with the Visa exchange rate calculator to see the rate of the day. Put it in 1 ARS to 1 USD (not the other way around).

This is a major relief to those not wanting to bring thousands of dollars in their carry on.

I do still recommend using cash for small operations as Argentina’s economy is very much cash driven and the blue dollar rate (exchanging dollars in a cueva) is always the most advantageous.

You will often get discounts by paying in cash or small businesses may not be able to charge a card.

FREQUENTLY ASKED CC QUESTIONS

  • You can check the Visa rate to confirm it’s giving the MEP rate by checking their currency exchange calculator here. Make sure to put ARS to USD (not the other way around).
  • This is for all foreign cards worldwide as long as they are Visa & Mastercard
  • Readers report debit cards offer the same advantageous rate in ATM’s, I haven’t tried it yet.
  • This will work when in Argentina, I’ve seen reports of people purchasing online flights on an Argentine site from abroad and it works. Do not just use Travelocity (as an example) and convert it to pesos, you’ll still be charged in dollars.

There is a law on the books that requires businesses to accept debit cards for purchases that surpass 100 pesos.

However, if they accept payment via QR code they are exempt from the requirement.

By QR code in Argentina typically means via the app MercadoPago (similar to PayPal).

Unfortunately for tourists, you need a local DNI ID card to create a MercadoPago account.

So, as I said above, always carry cash on hand, just in case.

ATMs in Argentina

If you use an ATM to pull out money in Argentina (Visa or MC), readers report receiving the MEP rate.

But still, I’d avoid using ATM’s to get pesos unless you have a bank that refunds ATM fees.

The limit on the amount of cash you can get out is also extremely low per day with very high bank fees (averaging U$10 per transaction).

When you absolutely must use ATMs here or abroad, I recommend using a bank like Charles Schwab that refunds any foreign ATM fees otherwise it will add up very quickly.

A sea of people walk down a street at an outdoor flee market
You’ll definitely want cash to shop for souvenirs in Argentina

Tips for Exchanging Money in Argentina

So now you know what you need (cash) and how to get it.

Here are some local tips to get even more bang for your buck.

  • Bring only 100 dollar bills that are crisp and unmarked. I always go inside my bank in the US and pull cash out with a teller then review every single bill, asking for any bills that are damaged or written on to be exchanged. Yes, this makes me feel suspicious.
  • Why? You will either get a lower rate or flat out rejected if you try to exchange 10s, 20s, or 50s. Many also reject or offer less for damaged/written on bills.
  • If using an ATM, LINK ATMs tend to have smaller fees than other chains like Banelco. Look for the LINK sticker on the bank windows.
  • Bring a credit card that returns ATM fees since fees here are so damn high, like Charles Schwab.
  • Try to not exchange too much excess cash as getting dollars back for those pesos at the end of your trip will likely get you a low, official rate. Instead, if you get stuck with extra cash, spend those pesos!
  • Keep small change on hand and break large bills whenever possible. Many smaller merchants lack change or have unreasonable anxiety around breaking large bills for a small purchase.

Tax Free Shopping in Argentina

Foreign tourists are entitled to a refund of the VAT tax spent on purchases of domestically-manufactured goods with a value over ARS $70 when made at participating outlets that belong to Global Blue Argentina.

When shopping for authentic Argentine souvenirs, look for the Global Blue Argentina sign at the register or simply ask when you’re paying if the purchase is eligible.

Keep your receipts and tax free forms given at time of purchase or you won’t be able to claim the refund.

For information on where and how to receive your refund, click here.

Read more about Argentina

Argentina Travel Resources

  • TRAVEL INSURANCE | It is always a good idea to travel insured. It protects you in so many cases, like lost luggage and trip cancellations, medical emergencies and evacuations. It’s very affordable with the potential to save you thousands in the case of an emergency. I recommend SafetyWing.
  • PHONE PLAN | These days, traveling with data is essential. Especially in Argentina where everything is managed on Instagram and WhatsApp. I recommend this E-SIM card. It’s hassle-free and affordable, for more read how to get an Argentina sim card.
  • ACCOMMODATION IN ARGENTINA | booking.com is the most common hotel site used in Argentina and it’s where you’ll find the most options.
  • RENTAL CARS | I love to travel Argentina via road trip, check out RentalCars.com for the best rates for rental cars here.
  • BUS TICKETS | I like Busbud for long distance bus routes and tickets.
  • VPN | If you’ll be using a public WiFi connection and want to secure your data, I highly recommend using a VPN, I personally use and have had a good experience with ExpressVPN. I also use it to access Hulu and American Netflix from Argentina.
  • FLIGHTS | Always check Google Flights and Skyscanner for flights to and within Argentina. Aerolineas Argentina is the local airline with the most routes. FlyBondi and Jetsmart are two budget airlines with dirt-cheap prices (but expect to pay for every add-on like luggage).
  • NEED HELP PLANNING? | I offer one-on-one travel consultations to help you plan your trip to Argentina. Pick my brain to get a local’s insight. Click here for more information.

82 thoughts on “Money in Argentina: Currency Exchange, the Blue Dollar, and Getting the Best Rate”

  1. Wow. Sketchy and weird, but very useful info. When I saw your heading about “money in Argentina” I though that was a strange topic, because, ya know, we use money here too. But what an eye opener!

    I literally never use cash in the US and for my last 4 trips to Europe (slight pre- and post-Covid) I didn’t even bother getting any euros but just used cards, even for a € 1 can of soda. I’m not sure I even remember how to use cash for larger purchases. Do hotels accept cash? Expensive restaurants? And when you discuss Western Union, you mean it functions like a currency exchange? I give them fresh greenbacks, they give me unofficial exchange-rate pesos? I can’t believe that’s possible. (Planning trip to Argentina next January, fwiw.) How much can I exchange in a day at WU? I have never use WU for anything before.

    Regarding hotels, rates on booking.com look pretty “normal” to my eye. 300-400 USD/day for a fairly nice hotel (not Four Seasons, but nice), so can I reserve with a card but pay in cash when I get there? Sorry for the dumb questions, but I appreciate the info.

  2. Hi Kate!
    With Western Union you can send cash via a transfer using a credit or debit card or your bank account and pick up the pesos at a WU location here, receiving the blue rate.
    And yes, everyone will accept cash here from expensive restaurants to hotels.
    It can be hard to reserve hotels ahead of time, though, with cash. As here they charge a deposit to even locals (but we have the benefit of using a bank transfer, which is common here for locals). You can see if you find any options to pay on check in on Booking but I think most require a payment. You could also try reaching out to the hotel directly via their websites

  3. this page was super helpful. we normally book hotel rooms 1-2 days in advance as that lets our schedule stay very flexible as we travel. Since foreign credit cards don’t get the blue rate, is there a way to buy a local prepaid visa debit card that can be used for bookings? Ideally one that can be recharged with cash as needed. We have those in Canada and I’ve seen them in the US. Just wondering if that might be a solution for travelers who want to book hotels in advance and get the blue rate. Thanks

  4. Hi, going through your blog right now trying to get ideas of my trip starting next friday.
    I have a quick question regarding WU: I am a banker but never used it so I would like to know if I send money do I need to decide straight away where I will be collecting the cash ? Later on my daughter who is 23 will stay in Baires until middle december to study at Ucema UNi, so I am wondering if I can send her money via WU.
    Thanks a lot for your attention and once again congrats for the blog and your Instagram account.
    Cheers
    Paolo

  5. I am planning a trip to BA next year to visit my best friend from high school who is Argentinian. Ran across your info….WHAT A GREAT BLOG FOR YOU AND FUTURE EX-PATS.
    I look forward to communicating with you in several months!!

    Regards,
    Rebecca

  6. You don’t need to decide where you’ll be picking it up, you can go to any WU location in the city you choose.
    And yes, you can send your daughter money via WU, it’s a great way to help her out.

  7. So I’m travelling from Europe to Buenos Aires next week. I’m slightly confused. Should I take US dollars and exchange them when I get there for the $ blue or should I buy pesos with my euros before I leave ?

  8. Don’t buy pesos before you leave. Either bring dollars or euros to exchange in a cueva at the blue rate or use Western Union to wire yourself money for the best rates.

  9. Hi Kate, you’ve got some good advice in your blogs. Thanks. But we have a slightly different approach to our travel. We will drive (in our own vehicle from Uruguay into Argentina, crossing at at Gualeguaychu before heading south to Patagonia. Any advice on where we can get the blue dollar rate either in Uruguay or shortly after crossing the border or do you know of a reliable Western Union agent in Gualeguaychu? Thanks, Lisa

  10. Hi, Kate!

    Great advice, thank you for all this info.

    Vis a Vis Western Union:
    Q1) Must you send yourself money before you leave? Or can you walk into an office in Argentina and hand them your plastic card and they “send” it to you right then and there?

    2) Reading the WU FAQ it seems there is a monthly 719 000 pesos limit per month and a 720 000 peso likit per year. Which means you can only change about 250USD, max. Hmmm…

    Any comments?

    Thanks a Bunch!

  11. This is extremely helpful – thank you! I’m out of practice using cash. In thinking about traveling with significant amounts and safe ways to carry it I have a question. When you mention crisp and undamaged bills, can they be folded? Thanks!

  12. Hi there! Super helpful, my friend was telling me about this but she had also mentioned that you can pay in USD at restaurants and shops etc. Is that true or do you need to exchange for pesos and pay in pesos?

    Thanks!

  13. You can pay in USD at some restaurants, whether it’s worth it will depend on the rate they offer. I think it’s easier to just exchange a bunch of dollars and pay everything in pesos rather than do it one by one. Except for perhaps large purchases, it’s just not worth it for every coffee or dinner.

  14. 1. You don’t need to send in advance, you can do it once you are here.
    2. The limit seems to be enforced arbitrarily. I got hit with it when I made a large transaction as my first one, then I was allowed to send more again a few months later, with no explanation. I have friends who have send WELL over that limit. I don’t see the rhyme or the reason.

  15. This information is very helpful. A couple of questions. Generally, can you find people exchanging for the blue rate in different parts of the city or would a hotel concierge direct you to where you could get it. (not sure if hotels actually want to give out that information). Second can you go into any western union and exchange USD and get the blue rate minus their fees of course or do you need to have an account? Thank you so much.

  16. Hi,
    Thanks for your amazingly helpful blog.
    There’s another thing to say about credit cards. We only operate with a debit card and have come across the following problem. When hiring a car, they require a security deposit that is returned to you later after the rental is over. You must have a credit card for that. Not a debit card.

  17. This is true for nearly all reservations, hotels do the same. It’s important to ALWAYS use a credit card for these things as with a debit it automatically charges your card. With a credit card it just puts a hold that’s released after check out.

  18. Thanks for this awesome blog, it’s been ENORMOUSLY helpful as I’m prepping for a trip in February. Is there a way to purchase domestic flights online with credit card and get the blue dollar rate? Or do we just need to accept the poor official rate? I’m trying to book flights ahead, given it will be high season and my time will be limited. So I’d rather not risk it and wait to book in-person with cash.

  19. If you can find a travel agent that will deal with pesos that’s the main way but sometimes that can be hard to organize regarding payment to them (bank transfer? etc) and some agents also only want dollars. I’d advise to just purchase the tickets and enjoy the blue dollar when you arrive.

  20. I just looked at Western Union’s website. They have a deal right now for $0 fees for your first transfer. So if I understand this correctly, I can do a transfer with zero fees (just once) and pick up pesos when I land at EZE at the Western Union office there?…and also at other Western Union locations if I need to?

    We are flying into EZE on Feb 23, 2023.

    Great information on your blog, btw…I’ve sent to others that will be on this trip.

    Jim

  21. Hi Jim, yes I’d take advantage of the zero fees on your first transfer. I’m unfamiliar with the WU in EZE but I know the hours posted aren’t convenient for most early morning flight arrivals. I’d just pay the official rate for your transfer to your hotel and deal with Western Union once you’re at your hotel or Airbnb and more refreshed.

  22. Thanks for a very helpful article on an obviously complex subject. However, I am not clear on how Western Union works. Do we send US$ to the WU office in Argentina and have the Argentine WU do the conversion to Pesos? Or do we send Pesos at the first instance? Also, if you have internet access, can you send funds from within Argentina as you go and, if so, how long is the process from initiating the transfer to picking up the money? Thanks.

  23. Hi Traveling to BA from Australia can I change AU dollars or do I need to bring US dollars although exchange rate for US dollars is quite low at present?

  24. Thank you for all this great info. A friend told me the system was a bit “different.” My question is….are there any other “physical” sim cards besides from DrimSim (my phone won’t support an eSim)? It doesn’t look like DrimSim will get me the sim card in time. Thanks for any suggestions! Thank you.
    Susanne

  25. You can see if you can just pick up a SIM card here in person, I think the convenience stores (Kioscos) in the airport sell them and make it fairly easy with Personal and Claro

  26. I am staying at a Holiday Inn near EZE on a short overnight between flights at that airport. No Western Unions in BA are open while I’m there. I’ll be on my way to El Calafate, which has one Western Union that is not open on weekends (I fly on Saturday). We’re then headed to El Chalten and I’ve been told to bring ARS there as cards are unreliable and USD may not be accepted.

    Do you have any recommendations for where I might look for a better-than-official exchange rate in my very limited time in BA? I might have some time in El Calafate as well if you happen to know anything about that location. Thanks!

  27. Do I need to wait until a few days before I fly to BA and send WU then… or can I send it , say, 3 weeks beforehand and pick up pesos when I arrive??
    Also you mention in Dec 22 that Cr Card exchange rate will be close to Blue rate. Now that it is Jan 2023, do we know if that has gone into effect???

  28. Hi Mike, You can go ahead and send the wire transfer now and pick up pesos when you arrive if you want. The credit card exchange rate is in effect for both Visa and Mastercard.

  29. Hi! your blog has been so helpful in planning my upcoming trip to Argentina – we are going to BA, Mendoza and Bariloche and leaving next week!

    For using my visa, the MEP rate will always be charged as long as they are charging me in ARS now? I usually always ask all businesses to charge me their local currency as a rule, but will businesses try to charge USD if they see a foreign card to try to make money or will they automatically charge ARS?

    Thank you!

  30. Hey, Erin! Thank you so much for the amazing article–I heavily appreciate the details and advice.

    I’m traveling to BA for about 3.5 weeks in March 2023 and wondering what you’d recommend for an initial Western Union withdrawal amount? I honestly have little idea at this point what to expect as the average daily cost of living, so not sure how soon expenses might stack in casually exploring the city. I read somewhere that the exchange rate fluctuates with such volatility even over a few days that perhaps I shouldn’t exchange my whole lump sum of cash for the trip at the start? But then doing successive Western Union transactions throughout the trip will hit with the fees so that might counter the benefit of waiting out inflation fluctuations?

    Also I wanted to double-check when wiring money, if the exchange rate used for the transaction is based on the day you set it up (say, if I do it now, is it based on today’s rate) or it’s set on the day of picking up the cash (in early March)? Or if I should even be worried about that, if it would be a nominal difference?

    Thank you so much for all your immense help and advice. It’s these articles that are firming up my confidence as a solo female traveler and allowing me to feel as prepared as possible for my first major excursion alone in a new country/continent! Truly invaluable. Thank you for guiding the way!

  31. What is the maximum amount that can be transferred via WU as a one time transaction?
    Thanks for all the great information.

  32. Hi Erin,

    Fantastic article, thanks so much! I’m an American ex-pat living in Brazil. My girlfriend, a Brazilian citizen, is traveling to Argentina soon for a work trip. Would it be possible for me to use Western Union to convert my USD and send her pesos? What kind of identification would she need to pick up the cash? Sorry if this is an obvious question, I’ve never used WU before.

    Thanks again!

  33. Hi Chris, yes you could definitely wire her a transfer for her to pick up in Buenos Aires. You’d send it with your credit card (make sure you won’t be charged a big fee by them for this), debit card, or your bank account and she’ll pick up pesos. You can see the rate in the WU app. Make sure you put her name in exactly as it appears on her passport (including any middle names) to avoid her having any issues picking it up. They will ask her who sent it, etc, nothing crazy.

  34. Great info here – just visited Argentina a couple of months ago & oh, how I wish I’d known all this before I went — & phones are from another planet as well…

  35. Hey Erin. Loving your website, it seems we’re on a similar wavelength when it comes to the type of places we enjoy which has meant I’ve added a lot of your suggestions to my map to try out!

    I have to say I’ve read a lot about the Blue Dollar et al, including the recent changes with credit/debit cards. Your post is possibly the best, most clear and succinct round-up I’ve found – so thanks for taking the time.

    I had one question I’d appreciate help with. I believe your article said I would get the MEP rate on my visa/mastercard cards at ATM’s? I hadn’t heard this one before but it would be very useful if true. I understand the fees are high so I’m just thinking if there’s no WU in town and I can’t find a reliable cueva to use – would that work as a backup?

    Cheers for help & the whole blog – loving it! We head out to Argentina very soon so looking forward to the experience!

  36. Hiya, I’m travelling to Patagonia in early March. I’m flying from the UK, and stopping at Buenos Aires before my next domestic flight further south. Should I change over to US dollars/Euros before I travel, or can I get my Sterling exchanged over in Argentina? I’m staying in a much smaller rural area where it’s highly unlikely I’ll use my card much.

  37. Hi Thea, if you have the time in BA I’d go ahead and exchange your money here so you don’t have to bother with it later. If you can get dollars I’d do that, otherwise you can exchange pound but I do think the rate is a little lower.

  38. Booked flights on 5th January via the Aerolineas Argentinas website (BA > Mendoza > Salta > Iguazu > BA). Total came up on website as $196,000.

    Paid using a UK registered Mastercard and the charge came off my card at £950.75, equivalent $206/£.

    A same day statement credit was applied a few days later of £377.36, which reduced the equivalent to $342/£.

  39. Can you tell me how I can find crypto-cambio (DAI or USDT to ARS) in medium size cities like Mendoza, San Juan or San Rafael?
    There is no any useful information by request “cambio” on google maps in those cities..

  40. Thanks for the post. I am at Buenos Aires right now. We are able to get blue dollar exchange at western union. But when we use visa, we only get $185 peso per dollar. I first used fidelity Visa card. Then I used chase Visa card. Both cards charged dollars equivalent to $185 peso per dollar. I don’t know why. If you come to Argentina, I suggest you buy some cheap with your Visa card to do a test. Before you use your card to buy something expensive.

  41. It’s being weird, for the past few days it seems to initially post at the tourist rate, then revert to the official rate when pending, then when it’s confirmed it does do the more advantageous tourist rate (this happened to me twice Friday for both Cabify and MercadoLibre). It does seem to do the official rate (185) when it’s a non Argentine company converting the price to pesos, which is understandable. This is to be for Argentine companies who price in pesos.

    THAT SAID, things like this are always unreliable in Argentina. How long will it last? It’s always godo to have cash and exchange in a Cueva for the best, more reliable rate.

  42. Hey Sol,

    Great info on here, really appreciated! I am planning to take a ferry to Montevideo and back. I was thinking about waiting until I am in Argentina to buy the tickets day of with cash so I can buy it at the Blue rate as opposed to booking and paying online beforehand. One ferry site says the ferry may sell out however so I am wondering if you know how often it sells out if at all. I am going in early March.

    Thanks!

  43. People should take note that the biggest ARS bill is 1000 pesos now worth about U$D 2.50 and mostly it seems I get 500 peso notes..so $500 or a $1000 US is a huge wad of cash to carry around!

  44. Hello- such great information for first time travelers to Argentina. Our AirBnb host helped us get the blue rate- which was much higher than in the airport and so easy! What do you recommend if we’re nearing the end of our trip and have an excess of pesos? What is the best way to exchange pesos back to US dollars?
    Thank you!!

  45. Hi Erin, We just did Western Union transfer, and they only had $100 bills. So suffice to say, we have a big stack of bills. What do you recommend for changing these into larger bills? Would you recommend doing this in a bank? Thanks so much for all your amazing tips. They have been so helpful during our time here. – Carrie

  46. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to exchange them anywhere. You’ll just be paying for everything in 100 peso bills. It’s annoying but not impossible.

  47. If you have just a little bit leftover, most people just spend them at the Duty Free on the way out as prices are in dollars but convert at the official rate. It’s the best way to unload pesos at a smart rate.

  48. Hello Erin – Super helpful post, thank you!

    I am planning on arriving in BA on a Sunday; with most WUs closed on Sundays, are cuevas recommended by where I’ll be staying the best option to exchange USD for ARS on a Sunday?

  49. Hi!
    Thanks so much for the helpful blog and for the money info. I am still confused though! I am travelling from New Zealand and have a visa card. If I use this visa card to withdraw cash at the airport, will I get the blue rate?Should I choose a particular ATM? Is it better to use an ATM outside of the airport? Thank you!
    K.

  50. ATMs don’t give the favorable rate. Exchange cash or use Western Union to get cash, using a CREDIT card Visa or Mastercard will get you the MEP rate.

  51. Thanks for the information.
    I’m Canadian, therefore my currency is in Candian $ and so is my credit card. By using my credit card, do I still have MEP rate?
    If I transfer myself Canadian $ to Wester Union, will this be a problem. Will I still get a good rate?
    Thanks,
    S.

  52. Excellent Article,
    Do most Western Unions have large ARS bills 1,000 or 2,000? Are the lines long?
    I am debating whether to go exchange my bills or just use my VISA CC to check in at my hotel as they will require for payment or a credit card.

    Cheers

  53. Hi there.
    Does Western Union have a real office in B.A. ? ( as opposed to a 3rd party company that serves as an agent ) I will probably be staying near Plaza de Mayo. Here in the U.S. it is impossible to reach a live Western Union agent on the phone. You get some idiot from a foreign country who doesn’t know anything.
    I was told, ” we don’t know who is an agent in B.A. … you must research yourself ”
    The other thing, once you send money to an agent in B.A., do they charge a fee to give you your money ???

  54. Hi David, there ARE Western Union offices that aren’t just partners with local companies like Pago Facil. They are typically the best to go to, for example I go to one in Belgrano on La Pampa by Cabildo Ave. I’m sure there options closer to downtown, if you search online you’ll see the names are just Western Union vs Western Union/Pago Facil.
    They do not charge a fee to pick up your money, the fee is paid when do the transfer online.

  55. It can really be the luck of the draw. I’ve gone in and gotten lucky with 1,000 and 500 peso bills. This was before the 2,000 peso note existed (but there aren’t THAT many of that note circulating yet to be honest). I’ve also gone and gotten 100 and 200 peso bills which filled my backpack. If you get a bunch of small bills know that you’re stuck with them, it’s not like you can walk into any bank (since you’re not a client) and exchange them for big bills.

  56. Hi,
    I enjoy your pins on Argentina and have based a lot of my travel plans on that. Thanks a lot for that!
    I had a question regarding MEP rate.
    I wanted to know if I can get MEP rates if I try one of the following (from USA):
    1. Through skyscanner, book domestic flights but pay in ARS$. Using Visa will give MEP rate?
    2. Book through FlyBondi/JetSmart and pay in ARS$. Using Visa will give MEP rate?

  57. Hi there – fantastic article! Thank you for sharing.

    All very clear but wanted to check on your point about El Calafete having limits on withdrawals? Is that a concrete rule and are you aware of any other locations where they impose this? I am visiting BA, Mendoza, Bariloche and El Calafete but would like to avoid carrying huge amounts of cash from BA and throughout.

    I spoke with a Western Union operative in the UK who wasn’t aware of these restrictions but maybe he wasn’t familiar with local rules.

    Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Matt

  58. I’m going to be booking some rental cars and domestic flights while in Argentina. So, if I’m paying with my foreign Canadian VISA card, do I want the website I’m purchasing on to be displaying the price in ARG or CAD?

    I’m confused because I just used Visa’s converter here and they are showing the ‘official rate’ not the blue dollar rate and I thought the MEP was supposed to be the blue dollar rate?
    https://usa.visa.com/support/consumer/travel-support/exchange-rate-calculator.html

  59. Thank you Erin for the update of Dec. 15/2023

    You do not mention the dollar turista at 1300 to the dollar….yet it is on La Nacion newspaper and on the app Dolar Blue hoy that i downloaded…

    It seems too good to be true….1300 pesos per USD instead of Blue at 1000 and Official rate at 800…..please explain, much appreciated.
    BTW we have already booked a few tours directly from the link on your site.;)

  60. Since November 9th Mastercard does not have the refund system anymore. It is supposed to be handled like Visa, but unfortunately it is not. I am still waiting for my refund from Masterard.

  61. Hi there! Great article, seems like its very fluid at the moment however.

    Whats the situation with Euros? Are they accepted as widely as USD in the Cuevas?
    Thanks in advance

  62. Hi solsalute!
    Many thanks, very helpful indeed.
    However, I am still not clear on when a foreign tourist needs to pay VAT. I have read that if paying with foreign credit card the tax is not included where’s for payments in cash (ARS or any other currency) tax of 21% will be added. Can you bring some light into this and clarify? What’s the best approach?

    Thanks!

  63. The dolar turista is for Argentines using their credit cards on dollar purchases, so it is actually more of a penalty for them versus a benefit for you.

  64. Hi, great article it’s super informative. I’m from Australia and coming over in a week. I’m thinking of over using all 3 methods you mentioned but not sure what’s most preferable in this ever changing climate. Currently there dólar CCL (which I believe is closest to WU has the highest rate) so I guess I would use that. Do many places offer card payments? I’ll be there for 5 months and I was told to bring $1000-2000USD over as I won’t be able to get it over there. Is this true? Thanks for your help

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