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  • Scott 245 posts

    @FarAway see my comment a few posts back about how Barclaycard Avios handled the refund of the difference between official rate and ‘foreign tourist MEP’ rate.

    FarAway 38 posts

    It’s not straight forward as I see.. So I guess for a few days in BA, WU is still the way forward..

    JDB 4,519 posts

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

    Yes, but frankly compared to queuing to get money and carrying around bricks, it’s still such an incredible deal paying by card. The added bonus of cash is 10-15% discounts in some restaurants. On your later post, a lot of things in Argentina are complicated, but it’s remains a totally wonderful country, here for another ten days and planning next year’s trip.

    FarAway 38 posts

    Chin Chin to another glass of Malbec. Do you need to carry dollars with you just in case you need to exchange on the spot or they accept pounds as well at “exchange bureaus”? And additionally, for 3 days days in BA, are £150 enough for restaurants, souvenirs etc. (hotels & activities are prepaid) for a family of four or it might be too much? I am trying to figure out what’s the right amount to wire via WU.

    JDB 4,519 posts

    Chin Chin to another glass of Malbec. Do you need to carry dollars with you just in case you need to exchange on the spot or they accept pounds as well at “exchange bureaus”? And additionally, for 3 days days in BA, are £150 enough for restaurants, souvenirs etc. (hotels & activities are prepaid) for a family of four or it might be too much? I am trying to figure out what’s the right amount to wire via WU.

    I have never tried to exchange GBP at cambios, but should be fine. For US$ you will usually only get the top rate for clean $100 / €50 bills, maybe 5-10 pesos less for smaller notes. Re how much you need, it depends what type of place you are eating at; food isn’t so so cheap, but wine is very cheap. A taxi Recoleta to Palermo or Puerto Madero is under 1000 pesos. I think you will need more pesos or just use a card. You can just do WU transactions as you go along and at worst if you have some pesos left over spend them in the duty free. WU is much easier than last year because of the card rate, so fewer tourists queuing.

    JDB 4,519 posts

    As an update to this topic, it appears that Amex does now offer the refund adjustment to the MEP rate. Check before committing any big sums; I unintentionally tested three small charges which each took a week to come through, so slower than Curve which is the fastest.

    One thing which quite a few tourists in Argentina didn’t seem to have worked out is that the special rate works even if, as usual, your hotel is priced in US$ as you are ultimately billed in pesos. The net effect we experienced is that the US$ rate is converted at almost 1.70 which is already a great deal but when added to the already low prices makes it extraordinary.

    slidey 294 posts

    If Hilton Buenos Aires is showing as being $287 on the Hilton site, does that mean Id actually be billed $287 or does it get charged differently?

    Similarly, if google flights shows a flight to Rio at $980 (most flights for Argentina seem to be crazy high), is that not the price that would be charged?

    If the prices differ, is there a way to know how much things actually cost?

    JDB 4,519 posts

    If Hilton Buenos Aires is showing as being $287 on the Hilton site, does that mean Id actually be billed $287 or does it get charged differently?

    Similarly, if google flights shows a flight to Rio at $980 (most flights for Argentina seem to be crazy high), is that not the price that would be charged?

    If the prices differ, is there a way to know how much things actually cost?

    On the day you are billed, the merchant will convert the US$287 at the official buying rate (today 262 pesos/£1) and you won’t pay the 21% VAT as paying with a foreign card. Within a week you will receive a US$ credit based on MEP exchange rate of 466 pesos/£1; providers seem to take a fair chunk for their efforts [there is no ‘official’ Visa or MasterCard published rate for this] so probably about 430. Thus you get US$287 x 262 = ARS75,194 ÷ 430 = c. £175 (so today about 1.64)

    JDB 4,519 posts

    @slidey re the flights, for international flights, you may actually get billed in US$ by an overseas branch of the airline; you need to be careful. If the price is still in US$ at the billing page, you will be charged in US$. Beware that Argentina also uses the $ symbol for its own currency. Domestic flights definitely billed in ARS as long as you book on the .com.ar website where the prices are not only cheaper but in ARS for the alchemy to work.

    AFKAE 142 posts

    2 caipirinhas, 2 main course, 2 coffees, bottle of Malbec, total £26 of which a portion was a big tip.

    Brilliant.

    Edit to add this was cash rate using converted USD, probably could have done even better.

    Scott 245 posts

    As a tourist it was very pleasant how inexpensive things were, but it would be pretty crass to tell locals how cheap their country is (not saying anyone has done this, btw!) when inflation is 100% and they have to negotiate a wage rise evey 3 months.
    Elections this year, and there’s a hope things will change.

    JDB 4,519 posts

    As a tourist it was very pleasant how inexpensive things were, but it would be pretty crass to tell locals how cheap their country is (not saying anyone has done this, btw!) when inflation is 100% and they have to negotiate a wage rise evey 3 months.
    Elections this year, and there’s a hope things will change.

    Yes, having been there for a month and talked to lots of people it’s very, very tough for most of them. A formerly very rich country impoverished by successive governments. However, you don’t get that impression in Buenos Aires with all the best restaurants packed with locals – difficult to get bookings, lots of new restaurants and super expensive boutiques opening, plenty of new cars etc. This is mostly from Argentines who have money abroad, good government jobs, professionals or work for foreign employers. Below that, it’s rather different even though they still have hugely subsidised utilities. Those who are doing OK too well long ago gave up on the government to help them and have adapted their lives and finances to operate very effectively in the 100% inflation environment.

    kai 77 posts

    If Hilton Buenos Aires is showing as being $287 on the Hilton site, does that mean Id actually be billed $287 or does it get charged differently?

    Similarly, if google flights shows a flight to Rio at $980 (most flights for Argentina seem to be crazy high), is that not the price that would be charged?

    If the prices differ, is there a way to know how much things actually cost?

    On the day you are billed, the merchant will convert the US$287 at the official buying rate (today 262 pesos/£1) and you won’t pay the 21% VAT as paying with a foreign card. Within a week you will receive a US$ credit based on MEP exchange rate of 466 pesos/£1; providers seem to take a fair chunk for their efforts [there is no ‘official’ Visa or MasterCard published rate for this] so probably about 430. Thus you get US$287 x 262 = ARS75,194 ÷ 430 = c. £175 (so today about 1.64)

    That’s very helpful, thanks

    FarAway 38 posts

    If I use Apple Pay (with MasterCard loaded on it) will I be charged MEP or the official rate?

    JDB 4,519 posts

    If I use Apple Pay (with MasterCard loaded on it) will I be charged MEP or the official rate?

    Yes, contactless and Apple Pay still provide you with the MEP rate as tested earlier this month.

    AFKAE 142 posts

    Got two Chase refunds today. Six days after transaction. Initial rate of 251 became 427 after refund.

    FarAway 38 posts

    Sharing recent experience from Buenos Aires… Unless you stay in Argentina for a long time or you are planning to spend huge amounts of money, don’t bother going down Western Union route. I have tried withdrawing my WU transfer quite a few times and either a) they did not have enough pesos b) the system was down c) the queues were more than 3 hours long.

    Paying by credit card/Apple Pay was straight forward and at the end charge rate was 420-425 ARS/£ which was surely lower than WU’s 480/£ rate but you had peace of mind and, in the grand scheme of things, you were only worse by a 12% compared to WU.

    Worth mentioning that in case you do want to use a taxi, a few pesos in cash will be needed so it is advisable to withdraw a small amount (5000-10000 ARS) from an ATM, at the official rate [260 ARS/£] unfortunately.

    Matt 338 posts

    How long does Curve currently take to credit the partial refund?

    Interestingly I seem to have been charged the MEP rate straight away on my MBNA card, although at the cost of getting a new card because “VISA flagged the card as compromised”

    JDB 4,519 posts

    How long does Curve currently take to credit the partial refund?

    Interestingly I seem to have been charged the MEP rate straight away on my MBNA card, although at the cost of getting a new card because “VISA flagged the card as compromised”

    It depends the day of the week! Having spent a month there in Feb/Mar when I probably did 100 Curve transactions – the worst case is five working days (there are bond market transactions behind this arrangement, so weekends/bank holidays delay it). It’s usually four working days and I generally found Curve to be quicker than HSBC WE. Curve usually, but not always, sends a refund email.

    It’s interesting what you say re Visa as when this rate started, they alone paid the rate straight away but then stopped because of scammers in India buying iPads via PayPal on Visa and changing the currency to ARS. From what you say they have fixed the issue – Visa advertises all over the airports about offering the rate.

    Matt 338 posts

    In answer to my own question, transaction on Sunday, refund to Curve Cash on Thursday. The rate (excluding Curve’s weekend fee) was approx 451/£. For my MBNA visa card the rate was approx 461/£

    Mandy 43 posts

    Please can someone help explain the best options to me about what to do about currency in Argentina. Going to be in iguazzu falls for 2 nights and Buenos Aires for 4 nights.
    I have hotel in iguazzu falls still to pay and in gneneral, taxis and eating out for 3 people.
    How much would you recommend to take in cash (Sterling?) and is Clarity/Chase/Virgin best to use?
    From what I gather from previous posts, should I take cash for hotel and use a card the rest of the time?

    JDB 4,519 posts

    Please can someone help explain the best options to me about what to do about currency in Argentina. Going to be in iguazzu falls for 2 nights and Buenos Aires for 4 nights.
    I have hotel in iguazzu falls still to pay and in gneneral, taxis and eating out for 3 people.
    How much would you recommend to take in cash (Sterling?) and is Clarity/Chase/Virgin best to use?
    From what I gather from previous posts, should I take cash for hotel and use a card the rest of the time?

    Any card (now including Amex) will give you the MEP rate which is about 5% below the best ‘blue’ rate (which is currently about double the official rate) but a lot easier than handling large amounts of cash. A Western Union transfer will give a rate very close to the ‘blue’. Not sure when you are going but there are elections in October/November lots could change. You need cash for taxis which are very cheap, and some restaurants give discounts for cash, but with the MEP you may not squeeze every last bit, but it’s a lot easier, particularly to pay hotels.

    Reeferman 38 posts

    Am heading down to Argentina in a couple of weeks – staying in Palermo for a few nights (before going on a cruise up to Brazil).

    The hotel is booked – to be paid on arrival – at a cost of about US$1,200. Does anyone have any update on the latest rate that may be charged to my CC? Is a subsequent refund close to the Blue rate still a thing?

    Haven’t made any restaurant reservations as yet – but plan to pay using a CC

    Will take some US$ with me – is it worth changing-up any to Pesos (taxi fares etc) or is everyone currently more-than–happy to take US$?

    Appreciate any latest advice please
    TIA

    JDB 4,519 posts

    @Reeferman – the situation remains much the same. I use Ámbito to check the rates:-

    https://www.ambito.com/contenidos/dolar.html

    and the only three rates (all vs US$ rather than £) that matter to you are:-

    Blue – the rate you will get exchanging clean US$ bills for pesos

    Oficial – the rate the US$ hotel price will be converted into pesos initially

    MEP – the rate at which the above peso sum will ultimately be converted to GBP with a refund to your card, BUT you won’t get the advertised rate – I conservatively estimate 10% less and it’s most unlikely to be worse. As the MEP transaction usually takes place a few days later it’s difficult to gauge.

    You still want to have some peso cash for taxis (although Uber works well there), smaller purchases and tips etc. Some restaurants have special cheap menus for cash only or offer 10-15% discount for cash.

    I also send myself money by Western Union – the rate they are using today is 1570 to the £ before their fees for which there are usually promo codes.

    Finally, if you are thinking of eating anywhere nice, you really need to book and most places have online booking (via Mitre) or on WhatsApp. Although the country is bust, good restaurants are heaving and it is difficult to get tables at dinner. The quality of many good restaurants surpasses London but costs a fraction if the price and top wines are a real bargain with small markups.

    Biki 117 posts

    Am heading down to Argentina in a couple of weeks – staying in Palermo for a few nights (before going on a cruise up to Brazil).

    The hotel is booked – to be paid on arrival – at a cost of about US$1,200. Does anyone have any update on the latest rate that may be charged to my CC? Is a subsequent refund close to the Blue rate still a thing?

    Haven’t made any restaurant reservations as yet – but plan to pay using a CC

    Will take some US$ with me – is it worth changing-up any to Pesos (taxi fares etc) or is everyone currently more-than–happy to take US$?

    Appreciate any latest advice please
    TIA

    current USD$ to Peso is 831, and on Chase it looks around 1,350/£. so US$1,200 would be about £739. But it might be a bit different depending if the above includes tax, which i think will be removed first (or was iwhen we went).

    We used Chase in most places and seemed an ok rate (around 1,165/£ at the time), it doesn’t refund the difference, it just charges the tourist rate straight away, whereas amex does the refund to adjust afterwards.

    We were getting about 1,220/£ by sending ourselves pesos through Western Union. I found that once i downloaded the app and played around with it a few times, but not actually completed a transaction that it offered to waive the fees on the first transaction. so perhaps do this and send yourself a few hundred quid’s worth to use for taxi’s, tips and things that cost less, then put more expensive things on Card.

    We also changed some USD to pesos and it was about 93,000 for US$100. Note that we could only seem to do this in BsAs at a decent rate. in Bariloche and Mendoza, Western Union places wouldn’t exchange US$ cash and the limited places that would were really bad exchanges rates. That’s why we transfered pesos to ourselves instead.

    ATM’s have limited withdrawal amounts and the transaction fees are quite high, so weren’t worthwile.

    Final tip… If you like ice cream and or chocolate, there is a great shop in Bariloche and also in BsAs called Rapanui.

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