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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.
- Avoid making ATM cash withdrawals and paying fees.
- If asked, always pay in local currency and not in US dollars.
- Credit line access
- May come with travel insurance and coverage
- May come with concierge service
- Cash advance fees on ATMs
- Cash advance APR on ATMs
Compare travel cards for Argentina
Explore top debit cards with no foreign transaction fees and travel credit cards by using the tabs to narrow down your options. Select Compare for up to four products to see their benefits side by side.
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.
- No cash advance fee
- No cash advance APR
- No overdraft
- 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.
- Can load multiple currencies
- No cash advance APR
- 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.
- Payment flexibility
- No need for ATMs
- 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.
- Not accepted everywhere
- Fees for purchasing and cashing checks
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.
Refreshing in: 60s | Sat, Dec 02, 12:11PM GMT
Common Argentine peso banknotes:
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
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.
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.Back to top
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