A practical foreign exchange and currency guide on sending money and travel to Argentina
What's in this Argentina currency guide?
Argentina is one of the most popular places to visit in South America – whether you are backpacking the continent or just on a short, budget holiday. From the café culture of Buenos Aires to the natural beauty of the Iguazu Waterfalls and the Perito Moreno glacier to the vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina has something to offer all visiters. From mighty Iguazú Falls in the subtropical north to the thunderous, crackling advance of the Glaciar Perito Moreno in the south, Argentina is home to a vast natural wonderland. Diversity is a big part of it. The country that boasts the Andes’ highest snowbound peaks is also home to rich wetlands, rust-hued desert, deep-blue lakes, lichen-clad Valdivian forests and Patagonia’s arid steppes.
Try to get some pesos as soon as you get to Argentina. Buses do not accept foreign currency. Taxis and shops might accept U.S. dollars, and they should give you a realistic exchange rate, but that can involve some negotiating. Though there are a lot a ATMs around the cities, at times they can run out of money especially around long weekends and holidays. It is standard to be charged a transaction fee of AR $60 (about 4 USD) each time you withdraw money. ATM’s also have a limit as to how much you can withdraw, that will depend on your debit / credit card, your bank and the country you’re from. It can go from as low as ARS1000 to as much as AR4000. Definitely talk to your bank and make sure your withdraw limit in Argentina is according to you needs.
Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and major shops and restaurants, but you may need to present photo ID to be able to use them. Bring a copy of your passport ID page to show shopkeepers, as it’s best to keep your passport locked in your hotel safe.
The country also has its fair share of illegal money changers, who operate on the street and claim to offer a more attractive exchange rate called the “blue dollar rate”. While the blue dollar rate may seem better than the one provided in official channels, it’s safer to use proper currency exchanges. Unlike most countries, where bringing lots of hard cash is not recommended or necessary, if travelling to Argentina it is suggested taking a decent amount of cash with you. Specifically US dollars and Euros, USD 100 or € 100 bills to be precise. USD and € currency are easily exchanged throughout the city (never exchange your money at the airport Ministro Pistarini Ezeiza or Aeroparque , they have the worst exchange rates). Don’t even bother to bring other types of currency since they are harder to get exchanged and often at terrible rates (perhaps with the exception of the British Pound, but not guarantee).
If you plan to travel extensively within Argentina, consider buying the Aerolineas Argentinas Visit Argentina Pass. It offers discounts for domestic travel in conjunction with your international Aerolíneas Argentinas ticket. For more information, contact the Aerolineas office in your home country or a travel agent like Borello Travel.
Once in Argentina, you’ll find it easy to get to most major cities by air, and to many more locations through an extensive and inexpensive bus network. Keep in mind that distances are much farther than they may seem. The main gateway for international visitors is Buenos Aires, the country’s capital. Its primary international airport is Ezeiza Ministro Pistarini, coded EZE, about 20 miles outside of Buenos Aires. It takes 45 minutes to an hour to drive to most parts of the capital from there. Domestic airlines and some international flights, including those to Uruguay and Brazil, use Jorge Newbery Airport, also called Aeroparque (AEP). It is as little as 15 minutes north from downtown on Rio de la Plata, and almost walkable from some northern districts.
A long list of international airlines serves the country, including Aerolineas Argentinas (the country’s flagship carrier), Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, Avianca, British Airways, Delta, LAN, Lufthansa, South African and United, among others. Domestically, Aerolineas Argentinas and its subsidiary Austral dominate, along with LAN, a Chilean company that often is more reliable. Flying is definitely the easiest way around the country, though airfares can be notably pricey, especially for popular routes like Buenos Aires to Mendoza.
Argentina is served by dozens of bus companies offering inexpensive and relatively comfortable travel, especially on long-distance routes. Overnight options for many routes include semi-cama, or partly reclinable seats, and cama, which are fully reclinable. All cities and sizeable towns have a bus station. In Buenos Aires, the Estacion Terminal de Omnibus, usually called the Retiro bus station, serves all long-distance buses. It’s sprawling and chaotic, but there is a hidden sense of order. A color-coded system determines what regions of the country are served by which bus lines.
Some of the world’s most dramatic scenery can be found here in the Patagonian Stepp, the Andes, and the lush Lake District. Take your time exploring this wonderful country – the vast landscape takes time to get around and is worth all the distractions you’ll find along the way.
There have been occasional Falklands-related protests against British interests in Argentina. You should avoid all protests and demonstrations. Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travel to some parts of the country. That said, Argentina is a modern country with good health and dental services. Sanitation and hygiene at restaurants is relatively high, and tap water is generally safe to drink throughout the country.
Tourists in Argentina usually realize that they need to be careful, but when you’re having fun it’s easy to forget to pay attention. When possible, try not to look like a foreigner. Obviously this is not always the easiest thing for a foreigner to do, but there are certain steps you can take. In a country where approximately 30% of the population lives below the poverty line, and the local currency is valued at less than one quarter of a US dollar and one-sixth of a Euro, it is a sad fact that certain people view foreigners as nothing more than a potential source of mone.
Train to the Clouds is cazily overpriced, but taking this train through the clouds and lush forest is so breathtaking. This is a 400 kilometer, 16 hour round trip into the Andes from the town of Salta. As the train climbs to 4200 meters, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular mountain, forests, and valleys. Operation is seasonal, so be sure to check before you decide to go. It costs 2,850 ARS ($104 USD).
Wildlife comes in spectacular variety, from penguins and flamingos to capybaras, giant anteaters, whales, guanaco herds and more. In this vast country, stunning sights abound and big adventure awaits.
The below comparison table makes it easy to find the best exchange rates and lowest fees when you want to make a Transfer or Spend Argentine peso.
The Argentine peso is subdivided into 100 centavos.
An important short-term driver of peso exchange rates is risk sentiment. As a riskier, emerging market currency, the peso will fall in value against the major currencies of the world (especially JPY, USD, CHF, GBP and EUR) during periods of economic uncertainty or when geopolitical risk is elevated.
It is fair to say about the currencies of Argentina (there have been four new currencies since 1970) that they are stuck in perpetual decline.
The current peso was introduced in 1992 after the former currency, the austral, had been rendered nearly worthless by hyperinflation. The new peso – exchanged for 10,000 australes – was to be pegged against the US dollar at a rate of 1:1, requiring the Central Bank of Argentina to hold in its reserves 1 dollar for every peso in circulation, which became impossible after the 1998-2001 financial crisis.
After the fixed exchange rate system was abandoned, the peso fell sharply. By the end of 2002, it had weakened to levels around 3 per dollar; by the end of 2010, to 4 pesos per dollar; by 2015, to 13 pesos; and entering 2018, to 20 pesos per dollar.
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