The Argentine unit of currency is the peso (AR$)Prices are quoted in Argentine pesos unless otherwise noted. The value of the peso has decreased in relation to the US$ since the economic crash of 2002. At the time of this writing the official exchange rate was $17.50 AR$ to US$1. It has changed more quickly in recent years and the current economy is experiencing a high rate of inflation. The current state of the currency strongly favors foreign travelers. You should check exchange rates before your arrival to be certain.
It is a good idea to bring some US$ spending cash to exchange, as well as an ATM card and credit card.
You may find that cash goes a bit further than the official exchange rate on a credit card transaction. We recommend that you wear a money belt if you are going to spend time in Buenos Aires. It is not necessary in Patagonia.
CashPaper money comes in denominations of two, five, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos. One peso equals 100 centavos; coins come in denominations of one (rare), five, 10, 25, and 50 centavos, and one peso. At present US dollars are accepted by many tourist-oriented businesses, but you should always carry some pesos.
Counterfeiting of both local and US bills, has become 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.
Changing large denomination bills can be a problem throughout the country. It is useful to break your AR$100 bills into smaller bills to be able to pay closer to exact change for taxis, kiosks, and small stores.
Cajeros automaticos (ATMs) are found in nearly every city and town in Argentina. They're the best way to get cash if you're running low, and nearly all of them have instructions in English. Almost all ATMs use Cirrus, Plus or Link systems. The downside to ATMs is that most machines only allow a maximum withdrawal of AR$2000 per transaction, and sometimes have withdrawal fees. Be sure to check with your bank about fees to avoid surprises later on.
The most widely accepted credit cards are Visa and MasterCard, though American Express and a few others are also valid in many establishments. Before you leave home, warn your credit-card company that you'll be using it abroad or it may put a hold on the card thinking it was lost.
Some businesses add a recargo (surcharge) of 5% to 10% toward credit-card purchases. Also, the actual amount you'll eventually pay depends upon the exchange rate not at the time of sale, but when the purchase is posted to an overseas account, sometimes weeks later.
If you use a credit card to pay for restaurant bills, be aware that tips can't usually be added to the bill. Some lower-end hotels and private tour companies will not accept credit cards. Holders of MasterCard and Visa can get cash advances at Argentine banks and most ATMs.
Very high commissions are levied on traveler's checks, which are difficult to cash anywhere and specifically not recommended for travel in Argentina. Stores will not accept traveler's checks, and outside Buenos Aires it's even harder to change them.
US Dollars are easily exchanged into Argentine Pesos in Buenos Aires and Patagonia. ATM machines dispense Argentine Pesos from your credit or debit card for personal shopping (There are several ATM's in Esquel). It is recommended that you take enough US Dollars for gratuities and any additional fees.
Taxes & Refunds for Argentine Purchases
Under limited circumstances, foreign visitors may obtain refunds of the impuesto al valor agregado (IVA; value-added tax) on purchases of Argentine products upon their departure from the country. A 'Tax Free' (in English) window decal identifies merchants participating in this program. Hang on to your invoice and you can obtain refunds in Buenos Aires at Ezeiza, Aeroparque Jorge Newbery and the Buquebus terminal at Darsena Norte.