(CNN Spanish) — If you are preparing a trip to Argentina, you have probably wondered what is the best way to manage your money. Where can dollars be exchanged? Is there a cap? Should I use a card? Here, a guide to guide you in the midst of the economic crisis that the South American country is going through.
About 1.5 million tourists have visited the country so far this year, according to official figures released by the state agency Télam, mainly from Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and the United States. While tourism recovers, the economic situation deteriorates, a factor that foreigners visiting the country must take into account when planning their trip.
One coin, at least three changes
In Argentina there are multiple quotes for the dollar that depend on the type of market and consumer in which the exchange operation is going to be carried out. Tourists basically tend to take two into account: the official retail dollar that you can get in a regulated exchange and the informal or blue dollar that is traded on the street.
The Argentine exchange market is currently marked by the disparity that exists between these two prices, which is called the exchange rate gap and which has accelerated in the last month. In other words, the difference between the amount of pesos that they give you per dollar in an official exchange with the amount that they give you in the informal market.
If you arrive in the country with dollars, this is the range of options that exists to change them into pesos.
1. The formal market
In the exchange houses of the formal market you can sell your dollars at the price of the official price. Due to the exchange gap, which exceeded 150% this month (that is, the dollar in the informal market was worth more than double that in the formal market), many tourists rule out this possibility outright.
2. The informal market
In the informal market – which operates on the street (in the “caves” or “little trees” of Florida, for example), but also in many hostels and hotels that exchange their greenbacks for tourists – foreign visitors get the price known as “blue dollar”, which in the current economic situation is significantly higher than the official dollar. This is an illegal operation, but widespread among visitors to the country.
(Uruguayan media have precisely highlighted the influx of tourists to Argentina to take advantage of this price that favors them. “Argentina is cheap and Uruguayans know it: 160,000 traveled on vacation in July,” the newspaper El Observador recently headlined in this regard).
3. The new commitment of the Government: the formal market with a more favorable price
The Central Bank announced on July 21 that foreign tourists will be able to exchange up to a maximum of US$5,000 dollars on the regulated market at a more convenient rate than the official retail dollar but not necessarily better than the blue dollar: the of the dollar bag or MEP. This dollar is the one obtained by buying public securities in pesos and then trading them according to their price in dollars. So that tourists can carry out the operation, the institutions will use a reference price that is available at the time of the dollar sale operation.
In order to make this change in the regulated market, the authorized entities will have to request a valid document from the tourist and confirm that they are not on certain lists established by the Central Bank. In addition, as a tourist you will have to present a sworn statement in which you guarantee that you are precisely as a tourist in the country and that your exchange operations have not exceeded US$ 5,000 in the last 30 consecutive days and in all the institutions in which You have exchanged dollars.
In case you go with a currency that is not a dollar, for example euros, reais, Chilean or Uruguayan pesos, you can do the same operation and the equivalent amount in dollars will be taken as a result of an arbitration, explains the official Télam agency.
And the cards?
Another option you have is to pay with a debit or credit card. However, many tourists avoid this alternative because when converting the purchase to dollars, they will take the official price as a reference, that is, the least convenient for foreigners.
With information from Emiliano Giménez, Germán Padinger and Sebastián Jiménez Valencia.