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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
“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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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Tuesday 7th of March 2023
We bought our local flights in January. According to Google rates we were supposed to have a rate of 0.13 CZK for 1 ARS (this is a Czech currency) but when we paid for the flights the actual money deducted was almost half (at 0.8 CZK for 1 ARS) as the article suggests.
Yesterday we booked a hike at 116,000 ARS which was supposed to be 15,382 CZK (654EUR) but again the money deducted was almost half the rate, so we only paid 7,760 CZK (330EUR).
According to the comments, not many people have the same experience, I am not sure what are the conditions or when exactly is this applied, but with my local bank and my Visa card, I had the above rate. Revolut also works with better rates, not that good but better than the official ones.
Note: some companies (such as Booking.com) have their rates pegged to USD even though the prices show in ARS, maybe that was the case for you, but who knows.
Note 2: I couldn't use the Visa card to pay for any of the national parks online.
Friday 10th of February 2023
Complete BS! I just paid with my Visa card for an airline ticket and got the bad (official) rate, this misinformation is criminal!
Saturday 14th of January 2023
Just arrived in Buenos Aires 2 days ago. Yesterday we received a rate of 319 pesos for several charges using Visa. We also used debit cards to get pesos from a BBVA ATM and received pasos at rate of 277. Couldn’t figure out what was going on until reading this article. It pretty much rocks !!!!
Friday 10th of February 2023
@todd johnston, why are you lying about this?
Wednesday 21st of December 2022
We are leaving this weekend for Argentina. Has anyone had any luck getting this rate while using a credit card or should plan on bringing USD and having them converted at the blue markets?
Monday 5th of December 2022
Currently in Argentina, unable to get this tourist rate, I have used Visa MasterCard debit plus cards going to the national bank. No one is honouring the tourist rate. The only way to exchange money is on the street or except a 50% lower rate by exchanging through official channels and banks, or credit cards
Tuesday 7th of February 2023
@Tom Michell, is absolutely correct. My hotel just did the reverse of what your article is suggesting. They charge me at the MEP rate when checking out which effectively doubled the bill from us $441 @183 exchange (83000 pesos) to $800 (155000 peso) , stating that Mastercard would refund the difference and I would end up paying $441, which is the official exchange rate. So even if this happens I will be no better off. It’s a con.