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Argentina Doubles Fee for Overstaying Tourist Visa

Argentina Overstay Visa Fee DoublesAs of March 1, 2015, Argentina has doubled the fee for overstaying your tourist visa for non-Mercosur residents from $300 pesos to $600 pesos. This also applies to extending your tourist visa by 90-days.

Considering that it was last changed almost 6 years ago, this was long overdue, and with the rate of inflation here, it’s still quite a bargain. In 2009, the fee was sextupled from $50 to $300, so doubling is almost nothing. Looking at this in dollar prices, the $300 fee in 2009 equated to U$S 81 while $600 pesos in 2015 equates to U$S 47 on the blue market.

You can pay this overstay fee at Ezeiza, Aeroparque and the Retiro bus terminal, but for other ports of exit you must pay the fee online in advance.

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Getting My Argentine Wife a US Credit Card… While Living in Argentina

As I’ve often written about on this blog, I do as much as I can to earn miles and points so that our family can travel for as close to free as possible. Most often, this takes the form of earning large signup points bonuses for new credit cards. In fact, I’m now up to about 18 active credit card accounts and continue to apply for new ones about every six months. (And yes, my credit score is pretty high and continues to stay that way even with this many cards.)

Of course, I’m always looking to earn more points and one easy way to do this is to get your spouse or partner to also sign up for credit card bonuses. Unfortunately, we live in Argentina and my Argentine wife had absolutely no credit history in the United States. That meant she’d have zero chance of getting approved for any credit cards

I started to work on building her credit history about two years ago. I first added her as an authorized user on all my credit cards that allowed additional users for free – American Express, Chase, etc. Luckily, she already had a social security number from previously being employed by a multinational firm and working in the US. That made this simple, but she could also have applied for an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITN). I’d be responsible for any of her charges, but she’d start to build a credit history.

Building a Credit HistoryIt seems this strategy worked!

She just recently received a credit card application from American Express in the mail. (We have a US mailing address that we use.) We applied online and she was instantly approved! This was a solid offer for the American Express Gold card with a 50,000 point sign up bonus after spending $1000 in three months and first year fee waived. Not too shabby…

Now, with one credit card under her name, we’ll keep building her credit and apply for another round of credit cards in about 3-6 months and see how we do.

So, to recap, how can you build a credit history for a foreign partner?

If they have or can get a social security number, do that. If not, get them an ITN. ( This thread on Flyertalk has several reports of which banks approve credit cards with only an ITN, including Bank of America, Citibank, Discover, Chase, and Amex.)

Now, add them as an authorized user on your credit card accounts and use that card. Over time, they will build a credit card history and should start to get pre-approved offer letters.

That was all we had to do and now we can start building more miles and points!

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Lost Argentina Reciprocity Fee Receipt

Argentina Reciprocity FeeUPDATE: As of March 24, 2016, the reciprocity fee is no longer required for US passport holders. This fee still applies for Canadians and Australians.

I recently had some blog readers who paid their Argentina entrance fee but then lost the copy of their receipt! They asked what they could do about it and luckily we were able to track down some suggestions.

First, you should be able to login to the Provincial Pagos website and get a copy to print from there.

If this does not work, you can email [email protected] with the following information:

  • Full name (as it appears on your passport)
  • Date of birth
  • Passport Number

Anyone with knowledge of Argentine bureaucracy may assume this would have little chance of succeeding, but guess what? It worked perfectly. The embassy sent them a copy of their reciprocity fee payment and they were all set to go.

Hope this helps someone else!

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Using An Award Booking Service

If you follow my blog at all, you’ll know that I’m a miles and points junkie. I’ve written numerous times about how our family uses points and miles to get expensive flights and hotels for very little money out of pocket.

As a points and miles junkie, I’m pretty familiar with how to book awards and travel. I’ve always been able to find flights for our family of four to go back and forth to the US, but it helps that we tend to have a lot of flexibility with our schedule. When you’re looking for very specific dates, it can sometimes be harder to use your miles to book award travel.

This is when an award booking service can come in extremely handy. What they do is take a look at all the miles and points that you have and then piece together a complex itinerary to get you where you want to go for the miles you want to spend. For this, they take a booking fee that usually ranges from about $125 – $200. If they cannot find flights or you are not happy with the schedule, you owe nothing.

In my case, I had to book a flight to the United States on short notice and with relatively specific dates. I went to all the airline sites to check for direct flight options in business class (how I prefer to spend my miles for the better value) and nothing came up for the dates I wanted. The return flight was the most problematic with no seats in business or even coach for the dates I needed. After spending the better part of a day searching, I turned to the MileValue Award booking service whom I had read about before.

Award Booking ServiceI filled out their online form – specifying my date ranges, preferred travel class, points balances and other preferences. I also specified that I preferred to use some of my 600,000+ US Airways miles over the lower balance miles I had on other airlines and that the bookings should be at the low-level award requirements. Within 8 hours I had a response and by the next morning I had an itinerary:

Departure:

  1. Buenos Aires to  Miami: first class on American Airlines (my first international first class!)
  2. Miami to Charlotte: first class on US Airways
  3. Charlotte to Boston: first class on US Airways

Return:

  1. Boston to Washington: first class on US Airways
  2. Washington to Miami: first class on US Airways
  3. Miami to São Paulo: business class on TAM
  4. São Paulo to Buenos Aires: business class on Qatar

Tariq at MileValue confirmed that the dates worked, let me know about an 8 hour layover in São Paulo and asked for my approval to book. I confirmed and by that evening I had my tickets! I then sent my payment for their services via PayPal.

That is an itinerary that I would never have been able to piece together myself! And, the best part is it only cost 125,000 US Airways miles plus $255 in taxes and fees (including a $75 fee for booking less than 21 days in advance).

I’d estimate that this is a $6,000 – $7,000 flight that I got for 125,000 miles and $380. That gives me a value of almost 5 cents per mile – an extremely high redemption value considering I only paid 1.13 cents for the miles during a US Airways share miles promotion.

I could not have been happier with their service, and I’d highly recommend them!

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