Spending Gringo Money in Argentina

Thanks to the government of Argentina – buying and selling USD is practically illegal in Argentina. Pretty crap for the locals – no one wants their pesos!


Christina showing that she has no USD in her pockets.

You can sell USD officially at banks and at the airport etc, but they ask you to fill out a page of information, and require identification etc. It’s pretty crap and they give you the official exchange rate. You can also spend money via plastic – but again you get the official exchange rate.

So what is wrong the with official rate? – well it’s far far below the unofficial rates.

2 OCT 2013: Official rate: 5.80

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ARS declining against the USD.

Everyone believes that the Argentine peso will devalue further and they are willing to bet on it. Inflation is crazy here, and people want to get more stable US dollars in their hands. What has resulted? An unofficial – illegal money market.

The unofficial rate for money exchange in Argentina is called the blue dollar. It’s tracked in local newspapers and on http://dolarblue.net/

  US$1 % difference
Official 5.8
Exchange4free 8 137.93%
Blue 9 155.17%

Gringos can just bring US dollars and exchange them on the street. Big bills work best – like US$100 notes. They try and give you a less desirable rate with US$20 bills. You can ask around, local friends and family, restaurants etc may want to exchange with you, which may be more convenient and safer. I’ve had no problems exchanging US money on the street in Cordoba, Argentina (Bernardino Rivadavia and 9 de Julio)

If you don’t have USD notes, you may have heard about XOOM? You basically put some money in an account in the US and pick up ARS in Argentina. I don’t have an account in the US, and I don’t want to spend money transferring money from Australia to the US.

I have been using Exchange4free (now known as X4F) which is like XOOM but better! Why? They have accounts in Australia and other parts of the world, and they don’t have extra fees – they make there money by stooging you on the exchange rate. I did the maths and even though the exchange rate on XOOM looks better, if you adjust for the fees involved – it is about the same rate as X4F. I noticed that the X4F rate gets slightly better after 10,000 pesos.


not even a single Eva.

I’ve made a few collections using X4F and it has been successful. – Just don’t try and pick up money just before closing time. X4F and XOOM have collection points around the various Argentine cities. Both companies use the same places.

How does it work? – well you register an account on X4F – it takes a day or two as they manually check that the account is legit. Then you book a transfer on their site, and transfer your money into their account in your country via your bank. When they receive the money they will let you know when the collection is ready. It takes a two to three days. (X4F account is with Westpac in Australia)

So the rate is about 8 pesos to 1 USD. You’ll get 9 on the street, minus the convenience.

Be careful when picking up the cash! 

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