Back to my favorite topic again, how to get that extra 5% out of my travel money! Argentina is an interesting case when it comes to changing money. Last year they introduced currency controls and the government holds a crawling peg to the US dollar, meaning they let the value of the Argentine peso fall by a few per cent each year.
The currency controls were introduced to try and bring more people into the tax system. Since Argentines have little trust in their currency, they traditionally keep their savings in dollars and many exchange places, cambios, exist for this purpose. Now for an Argentine to change money, they must give proof of how they received this money and show ID to be able to change into dollars. You can see where I am going with this !
So a parallel market has developed where no ID or proof is required and of course with better rates (for US$ holders) than the government rates. Currently the official exchange rate is around 4.3 pesos to the dollar and I have been searching for a higher rate.
Worst place ever to change is at the airport, just don’t do it. You can pay taxi drivers in dollars to get you into town. If you want to use the bus then you will need some change (coins) so change $20 or so but no more. The next worst place to change is at the cambios in the tourist part of town, along Florida Street or in the fancy malls. There they offer 4.2 pesos to the dollar. Get out of the tourist zone and you will receive the official rate of 4.3 to the dollar. Banks also offer the official rate but you need an account at the bank in order to use them so take those off the list.
Now onto the unofficial cambios. These are not easy to find as I assume they are bending the law. They are normally hidden inside a shop in some way and without knowing where they are will be very hard to find. I found my first one in Palermo by asking in a bank and I was pointed to where it was, though I had to ask a 2nd bank again where it was. Even then I only found it in what looked like an art gallery by a woman standing at the back near a little window. At this place I was given 4.5 to the dollar.
After much posting to forums to find out what the real rate should be I heard as of the end of January 2012 it is 4.7 pesos to the dollar. I have been informed of a jewellery store in Recoleta which has a cambio inside that offers this rate, and I am about to debark to find it. I will keep you informed.
As an aside, many shops have an exchange rate on their door allowing you to purchase goods in the store in dollars, and often these rates will be in the area of 4.4 or 4.5 to the dollar, so worth considering. In fact, virtually every shop will accept dollars in payment but make sure you negotiate a good rate, and keep your dollar notes nice and shiny, no torn or written on notes.
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Ok, I am back from the Cambio, the exchange rate I received on $300 was 4.65 to the $. I did not try very hard for a higher rate. This cambio is on Rodriguez Peña Street in Recoleta, between Vicente Lopéz and Guido, next to a shoe store. The window says exchange on it and you need to ring a buzzer to get in from the street. Very efficient once inside.
Every peso counts, particularly for buying ice-cream, my next post !
Tags: Travel Money