Money and Tipping

Argentina’s unit of currency is the peso, which has held steady for a few years at about four to one against the US dollar (but this rate could change quickly). Notes come in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos. One peso equals 100 centavos. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos, and 1 peso. The $ sign in front of a price is usually used to signify pesos, so this should be the case unless otherwise marked. 

For the latest exchange rate info, see www.xe.com

Don’t be dismayed if you receive dirty and hopelessly tattered banknotes; they will still be accepted everywhere. Some banks refuse worn or defaced US dollars, however, so make sure you arrive in Buenos Aires with pristine bills. In a pinch, American Express will probably change your older or written-on bills, and you don’t have to be a member (but you will have to wait in line).


Cambios (foreign-exchange offices) are common in the city center; but much less common elsewhere around town. Banks generally do NOT offer exchange services and, when they do, have longer lines and more limited opening hours.

For international transfers Western Union has many branches in BA, including an office near Retiro (0800-800-3030; www.westernunion.com; Av Córdoba 975; 9am-8pm Mon-Fri, till 2pm Sat). Please note, however, that the service fee is extremely high (some 20% of each transaction).

Counterfeiting of both local and US bills has become something of a problem in recent years, and merchants are very careful when accepting large denominations. You should be, too; look for a clear watermark or running thread on the largest bills, and be especially careful when receiving change in dark nightclubs or taxis.

Keep a stash of change with you, both in small bills and coins: when you need those 120 centavos (or 1.2 pesos) for the bus you’ll find it may become a hefty task to get hold of them.

While most merchants will require payment in Argentinean pesos, the larger more-tourist oriented establishments may, on occasion, accept U.S. dollars. They RARELY accept Euros or other foreign currency.
  


ATMs

ATMs (cajeros automáticos) are a bit more scarce in Buenos Aires than you might be used to, and they have low limits on withdrawals, so you may have to keep doing multiple transactions. Be wary of the fees. 

 ATMs dispense only Argentine pesos and can be used for cash advances on major credit cards. There’s often an English translation option if you don’t read Spanish. Widely used systems include Cirrus, Plus and Link.


Credit cards

Credit cards are not as widely accepted in Argentina as you may be used to, and some businesses add a recargo (surcharge) of up to 10% to credit-card purchases; ask ahead of time if this is the case. Many lower-end hotels and private businesses will not accept credit cards, and tips can’t usually be added to credit-card bills at restaurants.

The following local representatives can help you replace lost or stolen cards:

American Express (4310-3000; Arenales 707)

MasterCard (4348-7070; Perú 151)

Visa (4379-3400; Av Corrientes 1437, basement)


Tipping


In restaurants it’s customary to tip about 10% of the bill. Some Argentines just leave leftover change, but generally if you can afford to eat out you can afford to tip. Note that tips can’t be added to credit-card bills, so carry cash for this purpose.

Taxi drivers don’t expect tips, but it’s usual to round up to the nearest peso if the difference isn’t much.
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