Welcome to Argentina! The home of the Argentinian Peso (ARS). The Argentinian currency is very unstable. Here I give you the best tips on how safe to exchange money in Buenos Aires, the best places to exchange money, and even sometimes make a profit!
I will talk about ATM withdrawals, Exchange Bureau’s, Calle Florida (black market), XOOM and Western Union, Creditcard and, and paying directly in Dollars or euros in stores.
TIP: don’t change your local (USD, EUR, …) money to Argentinian pesos in your home country. The Argentina currency fluctuates hard during days, so you probably lose value even in a couple of days.
The symbol for Argentinian Peso is familiar with the dollar sign: $. In Argentina, the shortcut for the US dollar is USD or U$S.
1. The best place to exchange money in Buenos Aires
In my app (iOS and Android), I give you updates on the best safe places to change your money in Buenos Aires. The app is free and available for iOS and Android. Disfruta! Download here and view the current exchange rate per office.
Important note: the currency controls in Argentina have also affected tourists. You can exchange dollars or euros for Argentine pesos without any problem or restriction, but the other way there is a restriction (ARS back to USD/EUR/…). Do you have Argentine pesos left after your stay? You can only exchange a maximum of 100 dollars worth of pesos back to dollars or euro. This is per person.
2. ATM Withdrawal
Don’t use an ATM!!! I caution against ATM withdrawals in Buenos Aires because it’s the least recommended option. The withdrawal commission can get up to USD 10, bad exchange rates, and sometimes no money in the ATM. So, there are better ways to get Argentinian pesos. Using the ATM is not the best way to exchange money in Buenos Aires! Don’t you have any other options? Go to the bank and take an ATM with the above sign “Cajero Automatico”. These ATMs are for everybody. An ATM with the above sign “Autoservicio” will not work for tourists.
3. Exchange office
If your local currency is US Dollar (USD) or Euro (EUR), then you are lucky. Also, currencies such as the British Pound (GBP), Swiss Francs (CHF), New Zealand dollar (NZD), and others are possible to exchange into the Argentina currency the peso.
There are enough exchange offices available in Buenos Aires. Always take your passport with you when you’re going to the exchange bureau. It’s used that the exchange bureau will only accept banknotes higher than 20 USD or 20 Euro. Changing coins is not possible. Withdrawing money here is not available. Read the article for the best exchange office: “The best places to change your money in Argentinian peso, Dollar and Euro”
Tips when you go to the exchange office (Casas de Cambio in Spanish)
- Don’t change immediately all your money. Are you staying longer than 3 weeks? Then change it by every 100 USD or EUR. In other Argentinian cities, you will find exchange bureaus.
- Don’t accept any extra fee or commission at the exchange bureaus. This is illegal by Argentinian law.
- A rate that is 20 ARS under the current rate is acceptable. For example, the actual interbank rate is 810 ARS for 1 US dollar. If you can get 790 ARS for 1 US dollar, that’s ok. Go to some different exchange bureaus and compare them. You get the best rate during bank office hours. Check the current interbank rates on xe.com. Here are the best places to change your money.
4. Calle Florida: The Dollar Blue
Not afraid of some negotiation? Then go to the pedestrian street “Calle Florida” near the president’s house (Casa Rosada or Pink House in English). When you walk down the street you will hear people saying “Cambio, cambio”. These people work for a bigger boss.
Exchanging dollars and euros is possible. Be in a strong position to negotiate. Don’t take the first one, but play them against each other. Once you accept a rate after negotiation they will guide you to a small office somewhere located near the street Florida.
It’s possible, that once you arrive in the office, they start to negotiate again. Keep with the rate that they said outside. If not, just go outside again.
Secret tip in Calle Florida: the Dollar Blue will give a better exchange rate for notes of USD 100 or €100. Because these banknotes are highly sought after.
UPDATE: October 20, 2023: Due to the upcoming Presidential Elections and financial instability in the country, there are more police controls in the areas of cash Dollar Blue / Black market exchange trading. For example, Calle Florida. Exchanging money on the street or at not official exchange office is illegal. Be careful!
5. Xoom and Western Union in Buenos Aires
Do you want to travel cashless to Argentina? Then there is XOOM and Western Union in Buenos Aires. You can send money to yourself in Argentina and pick it up on arrival at one of their offices in Buenos Aires.
Western Union and XOOM have several offices in the city. Western Union works together with PagoFacil and XOOM with Cobroexpress. You will have the option where you want to pick up your money. For Western Union, I suggest heading to the office in the street Montevideo 825 (not in Uruguay 😉 ).
The rate at Western Union in Buenos Aires is the best! Western Union almost offers better rates than the black market. The only thing that you need into account is the transaction fee. Both companies are around USD 25 per transaction per USD 500.
The waiting lines at the WU office can be long (up to 1 hour or more) but you make a lot of profit by exchange money in Buenos Aires with Western Union. That’s a free dinner for two! 🙂
Take a copy of your passport with you and the WU / XOOM code.
6. Exchange money in the hotel
Exchanging currency at your Buenos Aires hotel is convenient, but it doesn’t always offer the most favorable rates. Additionally, not all hotels in Buenos Aires provide currency exchange services. Therefore, before approaching the receptionist, it’s advisable to verify the current exchange rate in Argentina and compare it with the hotel’s offer.
This option is particularly useful for securing a small amount of cash to kickstart your trip and for those intending to convert USD, EUR, or other currencies into Argentine Pesos later during their stay.
7. Credit card
Paying with a credit card (Mastercard and Visa) is widely accepted in the city and safe to use. Restaurants, bars, and supermarkets mostly accept your credit card for any amount. By April 1st, 2018 all stores have to accept card payment by the law, but often small kiosks, the bakery or newspaper stores around the corner don’t.
Before going to a restaurant always ask if they accept your credit card or check the window for any signs.
Since December 2022, you can pay with your credit card at the tourist exchange rate which is close to the Dollar Blue rate that you get on Calle Florida. However, take into account that touristic activities such as tango shows, bike tours, … will charge you in USD or Argentine peso at the MEP rate. Most of those companies have an international payment terminal to charge you in USD. Because of course, companies want to have USD and not ARS. And then you don’t make any profit with that new rule.
8. Coto supermarket or other stores
A not very know way to change your Dollar or Euro to Argentinian peso is going to a Coto supermarket or other brand store (Havanna, Falabella, …). At the Coto supermarket go to the cashier lane and you will see a little announcement with the rate they will give you.
The system works as follows. You buy something small – for example, a little bottle of water. Thereafter, you go to the cashier and pay with your US Dollars or Euros. Use a note of 50 Euro/US Dollar or smaller notes. The cashier will give you Argentine peso for spare change. Coto supermarket often gives a higher rate than the actual rate.
9. Top-up credit card
There are debit Mastercard- or Visa cards available such as Revolut. It is a top-up debit card. Revolut, for example, uses the interbank rate that fluctuates during the day without any fee. A good way for travelers and residents without an Argentinian bank account. Check out more on their website.
Paying tours or other events
The difference between the official exchange rate and the black exchange rate is of course not unknown to tourist companies such as tours, shows, etc.
You can certainly pay in Argentine pesos at the cash register, but you will regularly be asked to pay this at the black exchange rate. For example a ticket will cost you $50. Initially, you would think that you have to pay 5,000 ARS. So 25 USD if you exchanged your money on the black market. But they will then ask to pay 10,000 ARS at the black exchange rate.
So you don’t actually make a profit on this.
You will make a profit on restaurant visits, government museums and local shops. I have noticed that gift shops have increased the prices in Argentine pesos so that you actually continue to pay the same in USD.
Have some cash with you. I mentioned that stores have to accept credit/debit card payments by law, however, not every store is happy with it. Also when a store accepts card payments, it’s common that they will make a difference between paying cash or with a card. They will put two prices on the price tag. One in cash (cheaper) and one for card payments.
Footnote: Secretsofbuenosaires.com is not responsible for any wrong information or problems that appear with payment by following one of these tips.