Traveling to Argentina (my home country) has always been a mess regarding currencies. Sure, as a tourist you could use your credit and debit cards freely, but you would lose money. Like, a lot of money.
The reason is that there’s a parallel currency market for the US dollar (USD), which we call dolar blue, and the gap is quite large. The official exchange rate (1 USD to Argentinian Peso) given by the central bank, banks, and payment methods, is almost half of what you can get in the parallel market by selling USD on the street.
Yes, as a tourist, if you bring foreign currency with you (cash) and sell it on the street, you would get almost double the money, than if you use your credit or debit card.
Why? Because we as Argentineans cannot buy dollars freely, and there are a lot of taxes on top of transactions made in foreign currency when you use your credit card or debit card abroad. Therefore, people are willing to buy it in the parallel market for almost double the official price.
That changed today, finally! The government just announced a new tourist exchange rate. Tourists who do not live in Argentina or do not have an Argentinian credit or debit card will be able to access a rate similar to the Mercado Electrónico de Pagos (MEP dollar) exchange rate. This rate (MEP dollar) is nearly the same as the illegal dollar blue rate that you can get on the street. The new rate will apply to anything tourists are paying for on their credit cards and debit cards, including hotel rooms, restaurants, tours, attractions, cinema tickets, etc.
Example: Old vs New exchange rate when using a credit or debit card in Argentina
Let’s have a look at an example. Today’s exchange rate (November 7th, 2022) is the following:
- Official exchange rate (banks and cards): 1 USD = $157 ARS (Argentinean peso)
- Dolar Blue exchange rate (on the street, illegal): 1 USD = $289 ARS
- Dolar MEP (e.g. if you buy a bond): 1 USD = $287
Before. If a tourist spent $5000 ARS in the supermarket with their credit card, they would see a transaction for $31.84 USD on their statements (329 SEK). However, if they sold that $ 31.84 USD on the street, they would have received $9200 ARS instead. Paying for $5000 ARS then only becomes $17.30 USD, virtually duplicating your money.
Now. If a tourist spends $5000 ARS with their credit card or debit card, the new MEP exchange rate would be taken into account, and they would see a transaction for $17.42 USD (180 SEK), similar to what you would get on the street in the illegal market.
Wrap-up: Will the new tourist exchange rate in Argentina affect you?
The new tourist exchange rate in Argentina when using credit cards and debit cards is great news for anyone traveling or considering traveling soon. It makes it twice as cheap in a legal way, without the need to go to the parallel currency market on the street, which is illegal.
Argentina is a fantastic destination, with incredible nature and endless things to do. Buenos Aires feels very European in a way, so people coming from European cities like Madrid, Paris, and Rome will feel very much at home.
There are also great deals to the south and north if you want to explore nature. Have a look at Ushuaia (my hometown), which is the southernmost city in the world.
Is the new currency exchange rate in Argentina going to change your mind about traveling there? Will you consider it a destination soon? Let me know in the comments or send me a message on Instagram!