Argentina had a presidential election recently and chose a wild card to lead the country that promised to abolish the central bank and move from pesos to dollars (impossible), among other things.
The exchange rate system in Argentina has been quite complicated for tourists, with official and blue dollar rates + foreign credit card rates added fairly recently, which I most recently wrote about after my trip to Buenos Aires and Medoza this past April (read more here).
For most of the past 20 years, there has been a black market rate for dollars in Argentina that meant that you could save 30% to 50% of the displayed prices by not using your credit card or withdrawing cash from the ATM but instead bringing in crisp $100 bills and exchanging the cash in one of the many “cuevas” in the city.
This had changed for my most recent trip earlier this year when
you could get quite close to the Blue Rate by paying using a foreign-issued credit card.
You can check the current foreign card ARS – USD exchange rate by scanning the QR code above.
It is reasonably straightforward now for prices displayed in Argentinean pesos. You either exchange cash at one of the cuveas (1,000 pesos per USD) or pay using a foreign-issued credit card (900 pesos per USD).
Many of the hotels, however, have always displayed their prices in USD and then converted the rate to ARS using the official rate. Then, if you pay using a foreign-issued credit card, you are exempt from paying the VAT.
When the “official” rate was 50% off the Blue Dollar rate, you could save anywhere from 40% to 50% of the displayed rates when paying using a credit card, as the ARS to USD conversion was done using the official rate and you either paid using a foreign credit card and got close to the Blue Rate or $100 notes to ARS and used those to pay for stays (+ paid the VAT).
Now, this has all changed. The official rate was devalued by 50%, and it is now within 20% of the Blue Dollar rate.
You only save 10% if settling the stay using a foreign card, but you don’t need to pay the VAT.
The official rate hovers around 800 pesos to USD, the foreign credit card rate is 900 to USD, and the Blue Rate is 1,000 to USD.
Blue Dollar in 2023:
Dollar Blues In Argentina 2023 Version – Remember To Bring Crisp $100 Notes
Blue Dollar in 2022:
Dollar Blues In Argentina (Bring $100 Notes & Don’t Use Cards)
Our Earlier Argentina Blue Dollar Coverage:
There was a brief period in the 2010s when the Blue Rate temporarily disappeared, but it came roaring back a few years later.
Obviously, these hotels that are priced for foreign guests considered this exchange rate when setting the prices, and I would expect us to pay a bit more, but not 100%, as this exchange rate change would suggest (the Blue Dollar discount disappearing).
I remember when I was in Argentina for the first time, and the exchange rate from USD to ARS was 1:3, and now it is 1:1,000. It must be challenging for the Argentineans to live in a very high inflationary environment.
It would be easier for all of us if this Blue Dollar would go away, and we wouldn’t need to travel to the country with a stack of crisp $100 bills, but old habits die hard.
I am planning to return to Buenos Aires probably this coming May. Let’s see how the situation is then, and if I need to stock up on $100 bills. .