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Travel money guide: Argentina

Credit cards are widely accepted in Argentina, but you may also need cash.

Whether you’re going on a wine-tasting tour in Mendoza, riding with gauchos or crossing the Patagonia to sightsee glaciers, you’ll want to carry cash, a debit and credit card to be prepared. Cash is more widely accepted in Argentina than other payment methods, so you’ll need some pesos on hand. However, you can pay with credit cards or even US dollars in many major stores, hotels and restaurants, especially if you’re sticking to large cities like Buenos Aires.

Slip a travel credit card in your wallet to pay where you can, and avoid the usual 3% foreign transaction fees that most cards charge. However, you’ll want to keep cash on hand at all times, given by ATMs in bank branches or by transferring money from your bank to Western Union cash pickup points.

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Comparing travel, debit and credit cards

Visa and Mastercard are most common in Argentina, with American Express coming in third. Discover cards are not as widely accepted. To save money using a credit card, make sure your card has no foreign transaction fees, which can cost 3% on every transaction.

If you own a Discover card, you might struggle to find an ATM that accepts them. Opt to use a debit card at ATMs to avoid expensive ATM fees, including credit card cash advance fees and high APRs.

These are your options for spending money in Argentina

Using a credit card

Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and supermarkets in Buenos Aires and other major cities. Some smaller establishments and shops in rural areas may accept only cash. When you can use a credit card, go with travel rewards credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees, as these fees can be high in Argentina. The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card doesn’t charge the usual 3% foreign transaction fee that most cards charge (Terms apply, see rates & fees).

Tips:

  • Avoid making ATM cash withdrawals and paying fees.
  • If asked, always pay in local currency and not in US dollars.
Pros
  • Credit line access
  • Rewards
  • May come with travel insurance and coverage
  • May come with concierge service
Cons
  • Cash advance fees on ATMs
  • Cash advance APR on ATMs

Using a debit card

In Argentina, ATMs can be expensive to use, costing up to $10 or $11 per transaction, according to forums. Aside from paying foreign transaction fees, you’ll pay local ATM fees, and you’ll be limited to how many pesos you can get per withdrawal. You’ll need to make multiple withdrawals, adding up the fees. Using a card like the Betterment Checking can save you big time since the account reimburses your international ATM fees within 24 hours of submitting.

  • Tip: Carry your debit card as a backup in case you run out of cash and need to make ATM withdrawals.
Pros
  • No cash advance fee
  • No cash advance APR
  • No overdraft
Cons
  • Weak or no rewards
  • No access to a credit line
  • Most debit cards have foreign transaction fees from 1% to 3%.

Using a prepaid travel card

Prepaid travel cards are usually an alternative to debit cards. However, in Argentina, they could cost you more than they’re worth. If you already have a Prepaid travel card, use it to make payments where accepted.

  • Tip: Avoid ATM cash withdrawals or use them as a last resort. Prepaid cards are already full of fees.
Pros
  • Can load multiple currencies
  • No cash advance APR
Cons
  • Many fees, including currency conversion fees
  • May take time to load
  • No rewards

Paying with cash in Argentina

Cash is popular in Argentina. Museums, taxis, smaller shops and restaurants may accept only cash. This leaves you with two options: carry some cash from the US or make a cash withdrawal. Since ATMs in Argentina have fees and daily withdrawal limitations, you should consider carrying enough cash to last for up to five days. Keep ATM withdrawals as a backup option.

  • Tip: Carry smaller banknotes and make sure they are in good condition. Larger banknotes with marking or slight wearing could be declined.
Pros
  • Payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • No need for ATMs
Cons
  • High risk of theft

Using traveler’s checks

Traveler’s checks are rarely accepted in Argentina. Some high-end shops in Buenos Aires might accept them, but you’ll likely have to find a bank to cash them. This could cost you additional time and fees, which makes traveler’s checks a poor cash alternative in Argentina.

  • Tip: Traveler’s checks can be a good choice if you carry a lot of cash. This will diversify your money and will lower the risk of theft.
Pros
  • Security
Cons
  • Not accepted everywhere
  • Fees for purchasing and cashing checks
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Where can I get the best exchange rate for Argentinian peso?

You’ll get the best exchange rates at the bank or airport — but always have your passport with you. Don’t expect to get the best rate at hotels. Some high-end hotels let you pay in US dollars, but you’ll save money by paying with the peso.

Live Rate

= ARS$ 905.7416

Refreshing in: 60s | Thu, Jun 20, 04:13PM GMT

Common Argentine peso banknotes:

5 Argentinian Peso Banknote10 Argentinian Peso Banknote20 Argentinian Peso Banknote
50 Argentinian Peso Banknote100 Argentinian Peso Banknote

The main banks in Argentina are:

  • Banco Credicoop
  • Banco de la Nación Argentina
  • Banco Hipotecario
  • Banco Itaú Argentina
  • Banco Macro
  • Banco Patagonia
  • Banco Santander Río
  • Bank of the Province of Buenos Aires
  • BBVA Argentina
  • Central Bank of Argentina
  • Citibank Argentina
  • Bank of the City of Buenos Aires
  • Grupo Financiero Galicia
  • HSBC Bank Argentina
  • ICBC

Using money transfers

Consider a money transfer service if you don’t want to carry a lot of cash. Worldremit, for example, gives you an excellent exchange rate and money transferred to your destination country.

You need to use an Argentinian phone number and local address to make the transfer. If you don’t have one, Worldremit recommends using the address and the phone number of the hotel or the place you’ll be staying so the company can contact you if necessary.

Verdict

Credit cards are widely accepted in Buenos Aires and other large cities in Argentina. If you’re planning to use a credit card in Argentina, compare credit cards without foreign transaction fees. But make sure to carry cash for smaller shops, family-owned restaurants, taxis and other incidentals.

ATM cash withdrawals is an option, but due to ATM withdrawal limitations and fees, it may be best to take some cash with you and use a debit card as a last resort.

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Written by

Kliment Dukovski

Kliment Dukovski was a personal finance writer at Finder, specializing in investments and cryptocurrency. He's written more than 700 articles to help readers compare the best trading platforms, understand complex investment terms and find the best credit cards for their needs. His expert commentary has been featured in such digital publications as Fox Business, MSN Money and MediaFeed. He’s also well-versed in money transfers, home loans and more — breaking down these topics into simple concepts anyone can understand. In another life, Kliment ghostwrote guides and articles on foreign exchange, stock market trading and cryptocurrencies. See full profile

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