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  • Scott 240 posts

    I don’t know if they actually publish the special rate. Mastercard’s own site has an explanation: https://www.mastercard.com.ar/es-ar/consumidores/beneficios-para-extranjeros-english.html

    They do take their ‘cut’ so you don’t get full MEP, but still very favourable unless you want to deal in cash (and if so, I found the Western Union rate to be very good, better than the published Blue.)

    Matt 320 posts

    Thanks. Is there anywhere you can see what the Visa/Mastercard MEP rate for £ is?

    There is no Visa/Mastercard rate for the rebate that comes via the MEP, so the rate you get is not published – it is based on actual market transactions for electronic payments. You will get around 10% less than the published MEP rates – there are several different ones. You just have to be grateful for the huge discount you get, even on US$ hotel rates and if you don’t like the uncertainty, you need to pay cash exchanged at the blue rate which is oddly enough a much more standardised rate. However, if you pay cash for your hotel, you will pay and additional 21% VAT which you don’t pay if you use a foreign credit card. Quite a few restaurants offer discounts of 10-15% for cash.

    Thanks

    Don’t worry, I’ll be appropriately grateful next month when we go! We’ll quite happily take the hit on the rate for the benefit of not messing around with large quantities of cash.

    Vit 158 posts

    @JDB interesting point you made there about the hotel. I am looking at Hilton B. Aires but thinking of using point but you said there if I pay in USD (hotel currency) then I don’t pay the VAT? and will I get rebate similar to flight booking too? I assume not as it is in USD? Sorry for too many questions.

    Scott 240 posts

    @Vit, you don’t pay the hotel in USD, you pay in ARS. Hotels generally price in USD and convert at the official exchange rate on the day of payment. If you use a foreign-issued card then no VAT will be charged.

    Similarly in Uruguay, foreign visitors don’t pay VAT on hotels (not charged at source), nor gastronomy and hire cars (deducted from the bill.)

    JDB 4,339 posts

    @JDB interesting point you made there about the hotel. I am looking at Hilton B. Aires but thinking of using point but you said there if I pay in USD (hotel currency) then I don’t pay the VAT? and will I get rebate similar to flight booking too? I assume not as it is in USD? Sorry for too many questions.

    The twist with the hotel is that there is no VAT with a foreign card payment and the US$ sum is converted at the official rate on the day you pay, but then you will get the rebate, so it’s converted at the MEP rate, so you get a rate hugely better than the the $/£ rate.

    Vit 158 posts

    Thanks you both. Very good info indeed. @JDB if you can share based on your personal experience I guess we are talking about net “rebate” of at least 20-30% (MEP rate + no VAT) the listed price on the hotel website? Say, it is 300USD a night, realistically it can be as low as 200USD? Hope this question makes sense.

    JDB 4,339 posts

    @Vit yes, as things stand today, if your hotel rate is US$300 (before tax) you will end up paying the GBP equivalent of about $200 or less after the rebate. While the direction of travel for the ARS has only been one way for a while, I wouldn’t want to predict what will happen by next spring or even that the MEP continues to be offered to foreign cardholders. There are presidential elections next month. The key for foreigners to benefit is that the gap between the official and blue/MEP rates stays at least as wide as now, irrespective of the absolute rate.

    Scott 240 posts

    @Vit …There are presidential elections next month….

    Next Sunday actually, and from a tourist cost point of view, I don’t know if it’s better if Milei wins (pledged to scrap central back, introduce dollarization) or one of the traditional candidates (economy remains on the same downward path.)

    Vit 158 posts

    Thanks again @JDB @Scott I am a man of STEM but always have keen interest on finance and politics. Anyway I think I will get the flight book soon then keep an eye on the hotel rate. From what @JDB said above, it is really tempting to secure the rate but from what I understand is that I need to use my foreign (UK) credit card to pay upon arrival which I appreciate may change in the next 5 months.

    Scott 240 posts

    As another data point on Aerolíneas Argentinas, I booked flights this week on their own website with Halifax Clarity Mastercard and transaction went through OK (as per post up-thread, I entered my postcode without spaces just in case of any issues.)

    Getting the MEP rate resulted in an effective rebate of 57% against the official ARS-GBP rate. When I was there early this year the rebate was around 42%, so quite an improvement.

    Also noticed this time it’s gone through as a single transaction, rather than one transaction at official rate followed a few days later by a rebate. Transaction was made Wed night and by Fri night was showing as cleared at the ‘good’ rate.

    Di 1 post

    @JDB Hi, does every hotel in Argentina use ARS when using a credit card?

    JDB 4,339 posts

    @JDB Hi, does every hotel in Argentina use ARS when using a credit card?

    Yes, the law requires the hotel to bill your card in ARS, so even if the rate was quoted in US$ it will be converted to ARS on the day of payment at the official bank rate. You should then get a refund a few days later to reflect the more favourable MEP rate.

    The gap between the two rates is currently at an all time high of 50-60% but this could change after the presidential election run off on Sunday.

    Scott 240 posts

    @Di Just be aware that some lodgings, I’m particularly noticing this in the lake district, are converting their U$D price using the MEP rate, rather than the official rate, so they get the benefit instead of the customer.
    I’ve just had a place tell me that were they to convert at the official rate they would have to double their advertised U$S price in order to get the ARS amount they’re looking for. Well, duh. At least if they did the customer would know up front whether it was within their budget.
    You may spot this in the small print of their T&C page, or if the conversion method isn’t mentioned at all, it would be worth confirming before booking.

    Matt 320 posts

    I’ve been in Argentina for the last couple of weeks, paying with credit card where possible. There have been a few cash only occasions, so it’s still necessary to carry bundles of £2 notes around, but all big spending has been possible on card. I made the pleasant discovery that my Nationwide Debit card appears to process cash withdrawals at the MEP rate – my Santander one does not. Cash machines are very variable – charges range from 0 to >5000 pesos, and functionality from broken/empty (frequently) to limited withdrawal amounts (10k or 15k pesos) to working fine.

    The MEP rate is (I think) leading to an increase in prices in touristy areas (Bariloche, El Calafate) – meals would have been rather expensive at the official rate in some places. In places with more local business prices are generally very reasonable.

    All the hotels converted US$ prices to pesos at the standard rate, though our most recent B+B charged my card in US$ (can’t complain as the booking was denominated in $) and added a surprise 15% price increase as a card fee, which I will be taking up with Hotels.com on my return.

    3 out of 4 car hire places used the official rate (Alamo and 2xHertz), 1 (Hertz Bariloche) used a “different” exchange rate that would have been apparently plucked from thin air if I didn’t understand the MEP rate. On a side note, all 3 Hertz locations were appallingly slow to hand over the keys – would avoid at all costs in future.

    Overall the MEP rate makes things a lot more convenient, but I suspect the advantage will be eroded away in a lot of places over time as foreigner prices inflate. Definitely better than obtaining and hauling around bricks of notes.

    Thanks to JDB for the advice on booking via Despegar – all worked fine, even the Jetsmart flight.

    JDB 4,339 posts

    @Matt I hope you had a great time overall but it’s quite disappointing to hear hotels trying to squeeze the MEP rate or illegally charge you in US$. I hope people note this in reviews.

    I haven’t come across the problem yet – in fact I have just booked two hotels which charge in ARS but most of their guests will be Argentines. They are both on Booking.com where the price is about 35% higher which largely reflects the commission they have to pay plus apparently quite a delay in getting paid which isn’t good in an almost hyperinflationary environment.

    I booked a car with Hertz, also in ARS which seemed expensive but with the help of inflation/exchange rate now looks quite reasonable.

    kwho 62 posts

    @Vit …There are presidential elections next month….

    Next Sunday actually, and from a tourist cost point of view, I don’t know if it’s better if Milei wins (pledged to scrap central back, introduce dollarization) or one of the traditional candidates (economy remains on the same downward path.)

    If, as foreign tourist, I would partially pay the hotel bill with a credit card, say 10%, and the balance in cash, would they apply the VAT or not?

    JDB 4,339 posts

    @kwho well, I guess you must think Argentines are very thick! You will pay VAT on anything paid in cash towards a hotel bill. The removal of VAT and adding foreign cards into the pre-existing MEP system is the most incredibly generous offer for tourists in a country that’s already a bargain, so it seems really quite greedy to be trying to exploit the system further.

    The MEP rate isn’t as good as the blue rate, but it’s a whole lot easier and personally I hated carrying around bricks of cash to pay prior to the MEP rate being introduced for cards. Now it feels like a fair balance; I’m not getting the very best rate, but still a very favourable one and the country is getting the FX it desperate needs. The blue rate is only as high as it is because of the extra shortage of dollars caused by the MEP.

    kwho 62 posts

    @JDB I see your name on this forum quite often and I respect you for that as I don’t have the time to contribute too much. And this forum thrives because of people contribute us like yourself

    I do not think the Argentinians are thick. I did not mean disrespect. But also you don’t know the financial Hardship that I am going through and it’s a matter of telling the kids no holiday or holiday with certain limits.

    I am not trying to fool the Argentinians but I’m trying to make the best of what I have. Again this is a forum aimed at getting the best value of our travel budget, where we hopefully can ask questions without being judged. I respect your contributions to this Forum and thank you

    Kwho

    JDB 4,339 posts

    @kwho – understood. It’s quite difficult to budget with such a volatile exchange rate although it’s been a one way bet for a while. The gap between the official rate and the MEP (and it’s the gap rather than the absolute level which is the key for credit card payments) is particularly wide at the moment because the central bank, following a sharp adjustment in mid-August after the shuck primary results, hasn’t moved the rate presumably not wishing to be seen to act during an election period. They had previously followed a creeping devaluation policy of c.3% a month which kept the rates a bit closer. We will see what happens after today’s election.

    cin3 157 posts

    @Vit …There are presidential elections next month….

    Next Sunday actually, and from a tourist cost point of view, I don’t know if it’s better if Milei wins (pledged to scrap central back, introduce dollarization) or one of the traditional candidates (economy remains on the same downward path.)

    No possible good can come from this election result 🙁

    JDB 4,339 posts

    @cin3 – well Argentinian shares are up 20-30% and whatever Milei brings can’t be much worse than years of Peronist governments that have bankrupted the country!

    Scott 240 posts

    @JDB this seems to be what many of the Argentinians who voted for him are saying.

    However, how do any of ending public education, or restricting women’s access to abortion, or allowing people to carry firearms, or ceasing prosecutions for crimes against humanity help the economy?

    There were options other than Peronists, e.g. Bullrich in the first round. The only glimmer of hope is that he doesn’t have the support neither in Congress nor at a ferderal level to implement many of his hare-brained schemes.

    Edit to add: But from a totally selfish point of view, let’s hope the MEP rate for remains for a little while yet 🙂

    Matt 320 posts


    Yes, the law requires the hotel to bill your card in ARS, so even if the rate was quoted in US$ it will be converted to ARS on the day of payment at the official bank rate. You should then get a refund a few days later to reflect the more favourable MEP rate.

    Hi @JDB, is there a law in Argentina that says businesses must convert at the official rate? I’ve queried with Hertz and they have told me “If you decide to pay in pesos (either in cash or with a credit card), the tourist dollar must be taken to multiply it by the value of the reservation.”

    Thanks

    Matt 320 posts

    Hi @JDB, is there a law in Argentina that says businesses must convert at the official rate? I’ve queried with Hertz and they have told me “If you decide to pay in pesos (either in cash or with a credit card), the tourist dollar must be taken to multiply it by the value of the reservation.”

    Thanks

    JDB 4,339 posts

    @Scott – trouble is Patricia Bullrich has the charisma of Yvette Cooper and less well off people (ie the majority) know she definitely isn’t on their side so she performed very badly in the first round. She and Macri then had little choice but to lend their support to Milei as they could hardly support the Peronist dream.

    I think voters also realised that, as you say, his madder proposals were just rhetoric and unachievable. There’s little doubt though, that dramatic change is needed.

    Blue has fallen rather a lot this week! We are there for Feb/Mar but have been locking a bit in.

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