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Argentina’s New Tourist Exchange Rate Will Effectively Double Your Cash Back

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Traveling to Argentina has just become even more enticing with Argentina’s government just launching a new tourist exchange rate, which effectively doubles your cash as you make purchases. As of last Friday, 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 ‘Dolar MEP’ (Mercado Electrónico de Pagos) exchange rate, which almost equates to the illegal ‘Dolar Blue’ rate that tourists typically access for cash.  

Young hispanic businesswoman holding argentina pesos

Gone are the days of asking your local friends to exchange a big wad of cash for you, or meeting some sketchy character in an alley to do it for you. You’re now able to do it yourself, just by making the purchase on your credit card.

Last week, the Dolar MEP rate was around 292 pesos per dollar, while the official rate was at 158 pesos per dollar. Exchanging by the MEP rate gets you almost double the pesos for your dollar as opposed to the official rate that is applied to overseas payment methods.

“Effectively the measure introduces an exchange rate 90 percent superior to the official one applying to all tourist expenses in the country, including excursions, meals and tourist packages,” wrote The Buenos Aires Times.

Man buying a sandwich in Argentina

How Did The Exchange Rate Work Before?

If a tourist was paying for an expense on a credit or debit card, the cost of this would be converted to the official exchange rate, which was used by banks.

The Buenos Aires Times explains, if you were charged 10,000 pesos on your debit or credit card at the official exchange rate of 155 pesos, this would equate to US $64.30. Whereas if banks had access to the MEP exchange rate, this would be equivalent to US$34.24; saving you half of what you would have paid in US dollars.

This rate will apply to anything tourists are paying for on their credit cards, including hotel rooms, restaurants, tours, attractions, cinema tickets, etc.

Previously tourists in Argentina would be exchanging their money for cash at illegal and unofficial locations at the Dolar Blue rate to avoid the official exchange rate. The Dolar Blue rate is considered closer to the MEP exchange rate, so with Argentina’s introduction of an exchange rate closer to this; tourists will be able to stop carrying around so much cash and use their credit and debit cards without being penalized.

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Argentinian pesos

How Does The Exchange Rate Work Now?

The new process for exchange rates means that travelers can now pay in pesos on their cards and their money will be converted from dollars into a fixed exchange rate for tourists, instead of the official rate. Credit card companies will receive the dollars and will have five days to convert them using the MEP exchange rate via the financial markets, but credit cards can also gather a commission from the transaction. The new rules have already kicked in, so you can start exchanging at this more generous rate today.

Buenos Aires restaurants

Why Is Argentina Doing This Now?

Argentina has a spiderweb of different exchange rates, which can be confusing for tourists visiting the country for the first time. With unofficial exchange rates, such as the Dolar Blue, offering more lucrative deals for tourists exchanging their money, this has created a more cash-based tourism industry. According to Buenos Aires Times, around US $200 – 250 million is pumped through the country via tourism, but only $30 million of this comes through official channels.

Buenos Aires Argentina

As the country is headed towards 100% inflation rate, the government has been tasked to find a solution that will encourage tourists to put back money in Argentina’s financial system and assist in the post-pandemic recovery. Officials also believe this will provide more safety and efficiency to tourists coming to Argentina, while also formalizing the sector and putting pressure on the Dolar Blue.

Iguazu falls Argentina

“The measure was much awaited. Domestic tourism had been favoured by Previaje but incoming tourism has been lagging in its post-pandemic recovery and this will be a good booster,” said Gustavo Hani, president of the Argentine Chamber of Tourism. “It helps foreign tourists to encourage them to use their credit or debit cards; it makes things safer and more predictable for them.

Will this new exchange rate hack influence you to book a trip to Argentina this year? They removed all entry requirements back in April, plus they are expressing how much they want long-term digital nomads, so it might be the perfect country to stay for a while.

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Thomas Mitchell

Sunday 27th of November 2022

in Agentina Nov 27 used my VISA was given the official rate 165 peso per dollar did not receive the new double MEP rate similar to what cash is exchanged for on the blue market

this is not working yet

Mike L

Friday 2nd of December 2022

@Thomas Mitchell, I had the same problem -- I tested the my Chase Sapphire at Le Pain Q for a purchase at the official rate of $20, then called Chase to make sure they processed it at the new tourist rate, which should have been $10-11. They had no clue as to what I was referring to (2 individuals, level 1, and then a supervisor). It would be nice to hear how to get it to work because I'm back to using cash again, like some drug dealer.

Garry

Wednesday 23rd of November 2022

I just tried using US-issued VISA in Iguazu, and it was still converted at 167. Anyone had better luck?

Jmiek

Tuesday 15th of November 2022

In Argentina since Nov 10 and have used Visa card multiple times. Exchange rate always comes through at the official rate.

Lata

Friday 11th of November 2022

On November 10th still not working. VISA didn't update the new exchange rate for Argentina and that's where the problem is right now.

Jeffrey

Wednesday 9th of November 2022

I’m in Argentina right now. I’m a US citizen with US bank cards. I used a US based credit card last Friday and just now, Wednesday. In both cases the “official” rate was used va the new MEP rate. Given that the banks here are essentially run by the government it’s not surprising things aren’t working yet. Personally I’m curious if it ever gets fixed.

Lata

Friday 11th of November 2022

@Jeffrey, this has nothing to do with local banks. Neither the government banks nor private banks. The new exchange rate is ONLY for credit cards issued outside of Argentina. International credit card companies are the ones that needs to update the information and use the correct exchange rate that was available for them since last week. VISA already acknowledged that they will need a few days to adjust to this. Why? I dont know...

Joel

Thursday 10th of November 2022

@Jeffrey, Im here now and it’s still not working.