Exchanging money in Argentina
Planning a trip to Argentina and unsure if you should exchange money into Argentine Pesos before you fly? It is understandable that you would like to have some local currency on you. Maybe you need to pay for a taxi or buy something small. In my opinion don`t bother to exchange money before you depart your home town. I am specifically referring to people who travel with US Dollars and Euros. You will be paying fees to the banks to have the money converted and in the end you will find that you have lost money in the process.
It is indeed interesting times in Argentina and the situation can change overnight. There are all sorts of restrictions for Argentinians and we cannot go to the bank and purchase US Dollars like we used to. I find this very alarming in a country where everybody is supposed to be free. My blog is not political and I don`t write about political issues. For now I will try to explain why it is better for you to enter Argentina with your local currency and exchange it there. Most importantly where to exchange it and what rates to expect.
When you walk in the “Micro Centro” or city center of Buenos Aires you will always hear people shout “Cambio”. We call them the “Arbolitos”. “Cambio” means “Exchange”. To be honest they drive me nuts when I go to the city. I guess mainly because I look like a foreigner and after 5 years in Argentina I will always be and look like a foreigner. They approach people and ask if you want to exchange money. Personally I would not change money with them. You never know if you will get counterfeit Pesos or where they want to exchange the money.
Money Exchange Offices in Buenos Aires
Money exchange offices or “Casa de Cambio” are all over the city. They are reputable and some have been in business for more than 30 years. You will identify them with signs that have written on “Money Exchange”. If in doubt ask at your Hotel or Hostel. They will point you in the right direction.
US Dollars and Euros are also widely accepted at most stores and supermarkets. Check the rate before you exchange. Many of them will give you the “Official rate” or “Bank rate” and you will be losing. Always check the rate. It is very important because you could lose up to 3 or 4 pesos per Dollar if you are not careful. Compare rates that you have been given and negotiate if need be.
Official Bank Buying rate: 1 USD = 5.15 (Buying)
Exchange: 1 USD = 8.4 (Buying)
What about the banks? You can exchange your Dollars and Euros at the banks but you cannot purchase foreign currency. This also changed since my first visit to Argentina in 2007. You will be given the official bank buying rate which is a lot lower than the rate that you will get at the “Cambio offices”.
A word of caution. There is a lot of fake money doing the rounds. Learn how to identify counterfeit money from the real thing. Don`t use the hawkers (Arbolitos) in the streets. Travel responsibly and enjoy Argentina!
*** Information correct at the time of publishing the article. Please familiarize yourself with the currency values before you travel to Argentina.