Changing Money

Argentine Pesos

Argentine Peso

The currency in Argentina is the Argentine Peso. The denominations come in $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. A single peso is a coin and there is also a $2 coin. The peso is divided into centavos (cents) but rarely do merchants change money lower than a peso. Due to Argentina's high inflation, the denomination you will have most is $100 bills. As of November 2012, the official exchange rate is 4.7 pesos per US dollar. However if you exchange in the "Blue Market" you can get 5.8 pesos per US dollar.

The "Blue Market"

The formation of the "Blue Market" occured when Argentina prevented the Argentine banks from exchanging Argentine Pesos to US Dollars for its clients. Since the devaluation of its currency in 2001 and the high inflation that Argentina had endured afterwards, Argentinos do not trust their currency. The result is that Argentines have been trading their pesos for US Dollars and storing stacks of $100 dollar bills in safes or safe deposit boxes. By doing this the Argentinos are actually worsening their inflation problem, so the government prevented the banks from exchanging pesos to dollars. To change their pesos to dollars the Argentinos have to rely on the tourists to get US dollars. So the Argentinos will change money for you at a higher rate to get those dollars (usually around 5.8 pesos/dollar). Since exchanging money with tourists is not exactly illegal, but against the wishes of the government, they call this the blue market. In the tourist street, Calle Florida, you will often hear people shouting "cambio" (change) and this is one place to exchange money. However, I would not recommend exchanging in the streets because there are a lot of counterfiters in Buenos Aires and they could be giving you counterfit bills. I would recommend that you ask your Tango instructors for a good place to exchange money. I myself used my Tango instructor to exchange money. It is always a good idea to exchange some money at the airport, even though they will give you a bad rate, just to have some money to buy subway tickets and some food when you first get into town.

Use of Credit Cards in Argentina

Many stores and restaurants do accept credit cards in Buenos Aires. However, taxi drivers, bus drivers, subways, and Milongas do not accept cards so it is necessary to have some cash. Also, many stores require you to purchase so many pesos in order to use a card or they will charge you more money for using a card than paying in cash. Another thing to keep in mind is that most credit card companies charge a foreign transaction fee for exchanging currencies (usually around 3%) and they will exchange at the official rate (currently 4.7 pesos/dollar) rather than the blue market rate. CapitalOne is the only credit card company that I know of that doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee so you may want to consider changing credit card companies before going on a trip.

Use of ATMs in Argentina

There are plenty of ATMs in Argentina if you would like to obtain cash that way. You will most likely be charged many fees for using the ATMs and the rate of exchange will be the official rate rather than the blue market rate.