As you’ve been doing your research for traveling to Argentina, you may have encountered terms like “blue dollar”, “black market exchange rate”, and, more recently since the end of 2022, “MEP rate”.  

Here’s some orientation to get you started on some money basics for your travel to Argentina.  

Currency denomination

Argentina uses the $ sign to indicate the Argentine peso, so unless you see US$, the currency is indicated in Argentine pesos, not US dollars. 

Should I bring cash?

While our standard recommendation for traveling to Europe is to use the ATM to obtain cash and the best exchange rate this is not entirely true for Argentina. You may find it advantageous to bring extra US dollars with you and exchange them while there. Crisp and large bills only – read on to learn more and decide which is the best strategy for you! 

What’s the Blue Dollar?

This is the unofficial exchange rate in Argentina, running parallel to the official rate. It is more favorable when exchanging US dollars and avoids any governmental regulation or fees. While it may sound strange to turn to the “black market” to exchange money, it is a good option to get more bang for your buck. Read more information in this helpful article: 

You can exchange at an official exchange house but as you will see from the article above, that means you may lose ½ the value of the dollar compared to using the blue dollar rate.  

Any restriction on exchanging money? Quality bills only! 

No matter if you are using the official rate or the blue dollar rate: If you’d like to exchange dollars for pesos, be sure to use only fresh, undamaged bills. Bills under $100 will not be accepted. If you wish to tip your South American Tour Leaders in US dollars, the same considerations apply. Read more on tipping while traveling, and tipping your Tour Leaders here

Also, keep in mind that you may not be able to change pesos back to dollars at the end of your trip.   

Credit Card Payments – What’s the Tourist Rate?

Luckily, there seems to be a good alternative to cash these days, and a preferential rate may be available! This rate is also known as MEP, or Electronic Payment Market, and was introduced in late 2022. Here’s what we know so far: 

  • Credit card payments with Visa and Mastercard will apply this preferential exchange rate. The MEP rate is close to the blue dollar rate, i.e. about 4-10% lower than the blue dollar rate. Visa will apply the MEP rate automatically to payment, Mastercard will make a refund of the difference. AmEx does not currently honor the rate. 
  • This does not work for QR code payments and options like Apple Pay.  
  • However, this can be a good option and help avoid carrying so much cash around.  
  • Be sure to check with your credit card provider prior to your travel. 

We have found these articles on the topic helpful: 

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