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  • corking 9 posts

    We are going to Buenos Aries towards the end of January. Have read about the blue dollar rate and had planned to take US bills to exchange.

    I understand you can now use this on foreign credit cards – with success being reported on Visa cards.

    Has anyone been able to use a UK based Mastercard – mine is Tesco. I have read of people saying it changes at the regular rate and then you get a credit – but from what i can find – only seen people confirming with US based cards.

    I understand Amex have not joined the party.

    Anyone know if it works with UK cards for sure?

    If i need to get a VISA card – anyone suggest the best one? Would literally only be using for the trip….

    Be nice to hear from real world experiences.

    JDB 4,519 posts

    This is still in its infancy and because the process behind tourists getting the MEP rate is complex, via the purchase and sale of government bonds, it won’t all happen in a continuous straight line. Hopefully it will be smoother for you by Jan, as I will be there in Feb. Even if this system does work, cash is still useful as you can only take out very small sums from ATMs and many shops and restaurants will give significant discounts for cash or insist on cash.

    GillyDee 93 posts

    I used a Santander Mastercard to buy tickets to the Cementerio in Recoleta, Buenos Aires on 2nd December. 5 days later about 50% was refunded to the card IN USD, then converted back to GBP.

    yonasl 971 posts

    From a friend that has spent months there: forget travelling with USD and instead use Western Union. It may be a pain at first but much safer than travelling around with cash, then having to go to streets where change is done by shady guys in order to get the Blue exchange.

    Instead, you just wire to the local western Union and they pay the dollar blue este (in her experience she was always getting above dollar blue).

    Google about dollar blue and WU.

    JDB 4,519 posts

    From a friend that has spent months there: forget travelling with USD and instead use Western Union. It may be a pain at first but much safer than travelling around with cash, then having to go to streets where change is done by shady guys in order to get the Blue exchange.

    Instead, you just wire to the local western Union and they pay the dollar blue este (in her experience she was always getting above dollar blue).

    Google about dollar blue and WU.

    You definitely don’t want to deal with people on the street. WU is good but there are also ‘cambio’ places everywhere in Buenos Aires and a fair number in smaller towns. The local pharmacy was good for exchange where we were earlier this year.

    JenT 155 posts

    I agree with JDB – the guys in the street weren’t convenient for me and I wasn’t confident using them, but there are so many cambios, we never had a problem in towns and cities. Euros, Sterling and US dollars were readily accepted. There are definitely some things you can’t do by card and ATMs are generally very expensive, so have plenty of cash with you. If you take Sterling and don’t use it, you can take it home!

    It’s difficult to change back into US dollars etc so only change as and when you need to.

    OpaWoody 5 posts

    Just left Buenos Aires. I used my Barclaycard Rewards VISA card and definitely got the “blue” rate. Bill for 2 with very large fillet steak, beer and sides was 13650 pesos which was charged as £37.50. We were there for 3 days and only used places which took credit card but there is a place to change money in Puerto Madeuro offering 300 pesos per $.
    Fantastic city with great food, beer and wine.

    YC 227 posts

    My summary on MEP rate:
    1. Chase MC – Works
    2. Revolut Visa – Nope
    3. Curve MC – Nope
    4. Barclay Visa – Works
    5. Visa slightly better rate & immediate MEP
    6. Lose c.10% on MEP vs changing usd (MEP < blue)
    7. Some restaurants (special events NY/Christmas) and tour operators charge in USD and ARS conversion is at MEP/blue so clarify prices upfront if in usd
    8. Hotels while quoting usd upfront, they tend to convert close to official rate. This also means (I think/yet to get points posted) that hotel loyalty points ‘rebate’ is c.60% more.
    9. In short – optimal to pay visa card for hotels (avoids 21% vat) and rest in cash (but there is ofcourse convenience factor of not going to WU/cambio)

    GillianWilson 11 posts

    Hi we were there in November and used our Halifax clarity but got the bottom rate. It was not long after the announcement but that one didn’t work.

    GillyDee 93 posts

    Hi we were there in November and used our Halifax clarity but got the bottom rate. It was not long after the announcement but that one didn’t work.

    It didn’t kick in until the 1st week in December……………

    corking 9 posts

    Just a brief update from my trip – Tesco Mastercard charged at the regular rate and then refunds hit my account about 3-5 days later for about 45% of the total. Hotel quoted in dollars – but at check out multiplied what i was quoted by the official rate and took off 21% as paying by card. Worked in hotels, restaurants, shops, boat trips, etc Just waiting for final hotel to confirm it worked for everything. I also used cash by exchanging dollars i had to pay for day to day stuff.

    Scott 245 posts

    Good to hear.

    I read that Visa temporarily suspended the MEP rate for a few days last week when they discovered folk abusing it (I think it was something like purchasing Apple products in Europe, but getting billed in ARG to get the preferential rate – sounds like the sort of scam that plenty on here would be proud of pulling off) but I believe it is now back in operation on the same basis as MasterCard, i.e. billed at official rate up-front, with a refund later.

    JDB 4,519 posts

    My son and I have done a few peso transactions in the last ten days ahead of our trip to Argentina so can confirm both HSBC WE and Virgin Reward MCs provide the MEP rate by refunding the difference between the official rate about 4-6 days after the initial transaction. The FX fees are also refunded pro-rata. My most recent transaction was initially charged at 230.3298b/£ last Wednesday evening and today, with the refund the rate is 412.12/£ vs the blue rate of 445/£ so cash is still the best deal except for hotels where the 21% VAT is chargeable for cash payments, but foreigners paying hotels with foreign cards are exempt from VAT. Haven’t tried Curve in case that messes up the system as FX fees make little difference and we wanted s75 here anyway.

    Michael C 674 posts

    My son and I have done a few peso transactions in the last ten days ahead of our trip to Argentina so can confirm both HSBC WE and Virgin Reward MCs provide the MEP rate by refunding the difference between the official rate about 4-6 days after the initial transaction. The FX fees are also refunded pro-rata. My most recent transaction was initially charged at 230.3298b/£ last Wednesday evening and today, with the refund the rate is 412.12/£ vs the blue rate of 445/£ so cash is still the best deal except for hotels where the 21% VAT is chargeable for cash payments, but foreigners paying hotels with foreign cards are exempt from VAT. Haven’t tried Curve in case that messes up the system as FX fees make little difference and we wanted s75 here anyway.

    Hope you have a great time, @JDB and look forward to your reports on the latest steak&Malbec hotspots! I used to go 3-4 times a year and even took out residence to move there at one point…another life / sliding doors, etc.!

    John 1,012 posts

    I read that Visa temporarily suspended the MEP rate for a few days last week when they discovered folk abusing it (I think it was something like purchasing Apple products in Europe, but getting billed in ARG to get the preferential rate – sounds like the sort of scam that plenty on here would be proud of pulling off)

    I don’t see the following as a scam – but before covid, on Norwegian flights it was possible to choose which currency to pay in on their website by changing your country/language, and their exchange rates often didn’t match interbank rates. Paying in SEK was often up to 10% cheaper than the GBP, EUR or NOK price for the same flight (regardless of which countries the flights were to/from). I haven’t looked since covid so not sure if it still works.

    They had an option to pay in ARS too. One time I noticed the ARS price was about 50% cheaper than the GBP price for a London to Scandinavia flight, and this was at the official ARS rate too – perhaps they mistakenly thought the blue rate was the official rate. The GBP price was only around £50, so I booked it in ARS which charged my card £25 or so, and flew it without any problems. Later on the discrepancy got fixed.

    JDB 4,519 posts

    Further minor update. Curve now tested for a small sum – difference between official and MEP refunded after three days but in the form of Curve Cash, so save the FX fees on top of the MEP bonanza, but only in funny money.

    Scott 245 posts

    As a further data point, on 10th Feb I made small online purchases in ARS using both Halifax Clarity and Barclaycard Avios.

    Both transactions cleared on Mon 13th, at the Master card official rate of 229 ARS/GBP, albeit Barclaycard applied the standard 2.99% foreign transaction fee.

    Today, I’ve received the partial refunds. On both cards these were processed in USD, and for the Halifax Clarity, it gave an effective rate of 398 ARS/GBP, compared with blue rate of 455.

    The calculation with Barclaycard is less straightforward – I’ve been charged a foreign transaction fee on the refunds, meaning the fee for the net billed amount is in the region of 7%, giving an effective exchange of 370 ARS/GBP.

    Unlike @JDB the FX fees have not been refunded pro-rata, instead I’ve been stung twice. Ouch!

    Anyone have any experience of how foreign transaction refunds are generally treated by card providers, with respect to FX fees?

    JDB 4,519 posts

    @Scott this sounds like a mistake by Barclaycard, potentially because they haven’t tied the refund to the original transaction but that’s unlikely. Just checking you are sure they have double charged as on Barclaycard credits show as a minus figure (and the outstanding balance owed as a positive) whereas on HSBC credits show as a positive number and outstanding balance with a minus in front (assuming you owe them).

    It’s a shame but not surprising that the gap between the card rate and the blue has widened further.

    Scott 245 posts

    @JDB, I’ve double-checked the figures, and even drilling into the transactions Barclaycard show foreign transaction amount, their fee, GBP amount debited/credited to account, and effective exchange rate – for the latter they show 1.25 USD to GBP, whereas the actual rate is only around 1.20 to 1.21.

    I wonder if the fact the refund is in USD is what has prevented their systems from considering it related to the ARS transaction, although clearly other card providers are able to manage this.

    As long as it doesn’t get declined, I’d intend using the Clarity card anyway (+ cash from WU for day-to-day stuff), so probably won’t bother pursuing this as it’s a very small amount.

    JDB 4,519 posts

    @Scott as you say, it’s because they haven’t matched the refund to the original that they have charged a fee and Curve has the same issue which is why the refund comes in the form of Curve cash. For what it’s worth, I spoke to someone at Amex in Argentina – they have no idea if/when they will offer MEP.

    JDB 4,519 posts

    As an update on the Argentina MEP/credit card rate, it still seems to work smoothly although the refund (of the difference between the official and MEP rates) appears to have got a bit slower for some transactions with both Visa and MasterCard which has led to spurious stories that it no longer applies.

    Curve has proved quicker than HSBC WE, although with Curve the refund goes to Curve cash which may not be ideal but means you keep your points on the original transaction sum. Also, MC/VI now appear to be taking more out of the transaction for their efforts, so while today the MEP is at about ARS428, the actual rate one gets on a card is about ARS408 which compares with the ‘blue’ at about ARS445, Western Union ARS441. Also seeing far more places vs last year offering 10-15% discounts for cash.

    Scott 245 posts

    @jdb, although I found WU good for my first cash transfer as it was fee-free, they wanted to charge £5.90 for another £100, which made the rate something like 415 ARS to the £. Given this isn’t much better than the card rate, I made sure I kept enough cash for taxis etc, and used my card for convenience on everything else. Although as you say, I noticed plenty of shops offering cash discounts.
    Crossed the río now and prices are somewhat different!

    FarAway 38 posts

    Argentina trip coming up soon – can someone share “today”‘s MEP rate and whether BC Avios+ is using this? For reference Western Union right now is 440/£

    JDB 4,519 posts

    Argentina trip coming up soon – can someone share “today”‘s MEP rate and whether BC Avios+ is using this? For reference Western Union right now is 440/£

    Yesterday’s official MEP rate was 366.97 to US$ so about 435 to £. However, bear in mind that it takes about a week for the refund on Visa/MasterCard so today’s rate is irrelevant and that they take quite a bit out of the transaction for their troubles, so for transactions last Wednesday, refunded today, I have got 405. You will get about 435 on the blue rate. Bear in mind that if you pay a hotel in cash you will have to add VAT at 21%.

    FarAway 38 posts

    Thanks for sharing! So you are worse off by 7% compared to blue dollar rate?

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