Tag Archives | exchange rate

Send Money To Argentina And Get The Best Rate

UPDATE (12/17/15): The government has allowed the peso to float and everyone can now buy dollars. This has devalued the peso and caused the blue dollar rate to shrink to only about a 5% difference from the official rate. At this time, exchanging on the blue rate probably does not make sense.

Quick Summary: If you have a US bank account, use Xoom to send money to Argentina and get the blue rate. If you have a UK bank account, use Azimo to get the blue rate. Read our summary on the dollar blue rate in Argentina for more info, as well as our complete list of money transfer services to Argentina.

UPDATE: Xoom’s rates vary daily. This post was updated with their rate of $11.81 on 2/3/15. The difference between the official rate and the unofficial rate has gone as high as 100%! Using your ATM card or credit card in Argentina is like throwing away money.

Most U.S. expats in Buenos Aires have Charles Schwab bank accounts. This had consistently proven to be the best way to get money from U.S. accounts while in Argentina. Schwab gives you the standard day’s exchange rate for all withdrawals, charges no international fees and also refunds all ATM service charges (about $17 pesos per withdrawal). I was routinely getting over U$S 100 per month refunded to me. With all these great benefits, this next statement might sound weird…

stopped using my Schwab ATM card and all my US credit cards in Argentina as of May 2012.

I have found a better option – Xoom. (If you have a UK account, use Azimo.)

Xoom is an international money transfer service (like Western Union, but with much lower fees). You can send up to U$S 2,000 per transaction and up to U$S 6000 in a 30 day period. Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to their website, create an account and choose the amount you want to send
  2. Pay via direct debit from your bank account or choose to pay with debit/credit card (higher fees)
  3. Pickup the money from a More Money Transfers location or have it deposited into any Argentine bank account. If you choose to pick up the money, it will be ready within 15 minutes at most locations. Deposits to bank accounts take a couple of business days.

So, why is this better than using an ATM or foreign credit card? Because even with the Xoom fees taken into account, their exchange rate is so good that you’ll actually be getting more pesos on every transaction. For example, today’s official rate is $8.66 pesos per dollar. Xoom’s rate is $11.81. Here’s a quick breakdown of how that works out with an ATM withdrawal:

SendATM / Credit CardXoomSavings
Amount (USD)Official RatePesos ReceivedXoom RateXoom Fee (USD)Effective RatePesos ReceivedDifference (Pesos)Difference (USD)% Saved

How much you save depends on how much you typically withdraw in a month, but you can see that at U$S 2000, you’re saving almost 30%. Now you can see why I no longer use my ATM or credit cards, and send money with Xoom to my Argentine bank account and withdraw pesos from there. This also works great for tourists visiting the country – make a Xoom transfer before you come and then pick up your pesos at the More Money location in Buenos Aires when you get here.

You can also choose to use your credit card to transfer money to Xoom, but this has slightly higher fees and your bank will probably charge a cash advance fee as well as interest.

Want to give it a try? If you use any of my links to sign up, we’ll both get a $25 Amazon gift card from Xoom. This is pretty much free money too, because all you have to do is transfer $25 in order to get the gift card. So, if you only send $25, you’ll have $25 transferred plus an extra $25 on your bonus gift card for $0.29 more than a Schwab withdrawal would have cost you. Give it a try – there’s nothing to lose!

Some notes:

  • The Xoom website lists that you can pick up the money in pesos or dollars, but that is not correct. You can only get pesos.
  • I have transferred money to my bank account successfully and picked up money at More Money Transfers’ location.
  • There is several More Money locations in Capital Federal (Buenos Aires central) to pick up the money at. The main location is at Libertad 1057 between Santa Fe and Marcelo T. de Alvear.
  • If you have an ATM or credit card that charges fees, you can save even more money!
  • This works because Xoom is offering a rate is very close to the official ‘dolar blue‘ rate.
  • Xoom only works with US bank accounts or credit cards. You can use Azimo if you have a UK bank account.

Let me know if you were able to take advantage of this through our contact form and I’ll track that we both get the $25 Amazon gift card!


Currency Exchanges and Rates

Now that I’m here, I’ve been taking a look at what the best way to pay for things is – cash or credit?  I’ve found that:

  • using my Citibank Visa, I’m getting AR $2.9517 to the U.S. dollar after fees are calculated.
  • using my Schwab ATM card I’m getting AR $3.0436 to the U.S. dollar with no ATM fees.
  • when changing U.S. cash to pesos, I got AR $3.00 to the U.S. dollar near the Palermo Alto mall.
  • the Carrefour grocery store near me pays AR $2.95 to the U.S. dollar and some stores pay AR $3.00 to the U.S. dollar.

The official rate today was AR $3.0540 to the U.S. dollar. So, it definitely makes the most sense to take out cash from my Schwab account when I can as those extra cents can really add up over time.

If you’re looking to exchange cash for pesos, DolarHoy.com is a great site which lists the daily exchange rate for buying and selling at various cambios and banks. The best deal for today was Cambio America at $3.045. The Argentina Private message board has a good post with more details on this and their favorite places to exchange currency, including some tips on negotiating a few cents more than the bulk rate at DolarHoy.com. Like many places in BsAs, they’re closed weekends and a few hours in the afternoon, so be sure to call for their hours first.


Big Mac: More Expensive in Argentina Than in the U.S.

The Argentine Post has an interesting story discussing The Economist’s Big Mac Index which compares prices on McDonald’s Big Mac across the world as a way to measure purchasing power.

As they explain:

…The average cost of a Big Mac in Argentina now totals U.S. $3.64, compared with $3.57 in the U.S., according to the index.

In 2003 a Big Mac in Argentina cost just $1.18 (ah, the Golden Days) while in the U.S. it cost $2.65. Inflation has pushed costs up just about everywhere. The average Big Mac in Argentina now costs a whopping 36% more than a year ago…

I’d suggest reading the whole article as they make a number of interesting points about this being only one measure of purchasing power and how many other goods and services are still inexpensive. There is also an interesting discussion about this on the BAExpats.com site.

Luckily, I don’t eat Big Macs. 🙂 However, one of the reasons for my move was the exchange rate and the relative strength of the U.S. dollar. Coming from NYC, I expect things to still seem inexpensive, but I’ll definitely be posting more about my experiences as I explore and buy.