During our travels in Argentina, we gathered experiences around the relationship of the Argentinians with money. We would like to share these with you.
We travelled from Puerto Natales in Chile to El Calafate in Argentina by bus. As the cash machine is often the first contact with the new country, we headed on arrival to the first ATM. Usually, we get cash from the ATM with our DKB Visa Card without charges, worldwide. At the fourth try we gave up and agreed to pay the charge of ARS 94.20 (5.40 €) for a withdrawal of ARS 2’400 (138 €). This represents 4% charge per withdrawal. So why not withdraw ARS 10’000 at once and get charged only once. Well, it doesn’t really work like that. The ATM only delivers a maximum amount of ARS 2’400 per withdrawal. It is possible to make several withdrawals after another, but you will get charged at each withdrawal.
So, we decided then to always pay with the credit card, everywhere. Luckily, DKB reimburses the foreign charge on the use of our credit card. It appeared soon that many hotels and other service providers did not accept credit cards, some hotels even granted a 10% reduction when paid cash. But how to get that amount of cash without getting milked by the ATM?
Arrived in Buenos Aires, our host required us to pay cash in two weeks’ time. We had agreed on this procedure while in Chile not knowing the difficulty to get cash. He on the other hand thought that we were travelling from Europe and had enough cash in our suitcases. So now we had to organise ARS 15’000 cash. This represents 6.5 withdrawals and 36 € charges.
So, what to do?
After some research on the internet, we found a way to transfer money from Europe. Azimo is a new provider on the market which allows to transfer large amounts of money within hours. They charge 1% on the way. And, the first transaction is free! To check, which provider is the cheapest, you may want to check on www.monito.com. This platform compares all money transfer providers.
So, we transferred 1’500 €, representing approximately ARS 26’000 (back then). The downside was that this amount was paid out in notes of ARS 100. Nothing else to do than to crab a cab with two thick bunches of notes…
So that problem solved, we headed to the supermarket to purchase food for the coming two weeks. Even though our Credit Card has a PIN, the cashier asked us to provide the passport to prove our identity. The copy of the passport in a pdf format on the smartphone was not sufficient. So, we had to leave the goods at the cashier and walk home empty handed.
Having learned that, we noticed to our surprise, at the next purchase, that even with a Credit Card with a PIN, all the data of the card (number, validity and security code) were tipped in the cashier system, together with the passport number. To round it up, we needed to sign the receipt and once again write the passport number on the receipt manually.
What’s up? Are we so untrustworthy?
Not really. The locals also need to comply with these rules. Part of the explanation lies in the history and the current economic situation of the country.
The past hyperinflation and the governmental holdback on all savings lead to a massive loss of confidence of the Argentinians to their Peso. In 2016, the inflation rate was 27% and a similar level is expected for 2017. This leads to many trying to change their earned or saved money to Dollars or to Euros.
The cost of living has increased rapidly during the last years and therefore Argentina is surely not anymore, a cheap country to travel.
After all this hassle and getting to know the history of the country better, we got a good understanding for the people of Argentina and their relationship to money.
5 tips for traveling to Argentina
If possible, bring Euros or Dollars in cash
Only change at official spots or pay your hotel bill in cash, you can expect 10% rebate
Before booking, check if the hotel bill can be paid by credit card
Use a credit card without charge on foreign payments
Use Azimo to transfer large amounts of money
Always carry a passport or ID when paying with credit card
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*The recommended credit card DKB Visa is only available in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.