What to do about Money in Argentina
Argentina's official currency is the Argentine Peso (pronunced "pay-so") and unlike in some other South American countries, you won't officially find the US dollar used in day-to-day life, although many Argentines have dollar-denominated savings accounts to protect against inflation.
In fact, inflation is a thorny subject in Argentina, with the official rate hovering around 7% but with most independent observers reckoning that the actual rate is significantly higher than that. However, since the change of government early in 2016, the Peso now floats freely against the US dollar and inflation looks like it is coming under control.
This has meant an effective end to the semi-illegal "blue dollar" exchange rate which was a fact of life for many years in Argentina, and means that holidays in Argentina are now much simpler in terms of dealing with cash, using cards, and all the other money issues you might have to worry about.
Using Cash and Cashpoints in Argentina
Some bureaux de change in the UK are now carrying Argentine Pesos, and you can also order them online. However, you could take US dollars with you and then change them into Pesos in Argentina, where you'll get a good exchange rate.
Exchanging money this way is just a fact of life for most Argentinians, and not something you should be worried about, but just ask us if you have any queries or concerns. Dollars are definitely the major currency of exchange, although you can exchange Euros almost everywhere as well.
Using Cash and Cashpoints in Argentina
Rather than bringing either dollars or Pesos to Argentina with you, you could always just bring a small amount of cash so you have some on arrival, and then just use cash machines once you are in Argentina. You'll find them just about everywhere, and they take all UK bank cards, although there will usually be a small cash machine fee charged. You can also use a pre-paid currency card if you prefer not to bring your usual card - dollar-denominated ones are the best choice.
Travellers Cheques and Credit Cards in Argentina
Paying on your card is very common in Argentina, particularly in the larger cities so although at times you'll need cash, you can manage quite well without it so long as you're not going off the beaten track and don't mind paying at the official exchange rates.
If you plan to use your card either in cash machines or to pay directly for something, we'd recommend contacting your bank before travel so that they know you will be overseas, and when.
Haggling and Tipping in Argentina
No drivers or guides in Argentina will expect tips so please don't feel you have to tip them unless you think they've really done more than you could reasonably expect. In general Argentina is similar to the UK or Europe in its tipping culture, so meals are usually tipped at 10%, but a few coins for a coffee or a beer will be fine.
The main exceptions to this rule are hotel porters, who expect a small gratuity for carrying your bags up to your room. This is obviously discretionary and you don't have to do this, but they tend to receive next to no wages, so the tips are effectively their salary. A tip of $5-10 is reasonable, but more like $20 if you're at a 5-star hotel.
Argentina is emphatically NOT a haggling society, and it's generally seen as a little uncouth to try and get a discount on anything. The exception would be street markets like the 'hippy' market in Buenos Aires, where a more laid-back vibe is the order of the day.
Setting a budget for your holiday in Argentina
While inflation isn't in dangerous territory, we have seen prices for basics increasing noticeably every year in Argentina, so setting a budget for your Argentina holiday is a little trickier than a few years ago. The table below should give you some idea of how much day-to-day expenses are likely to set you back.
|Lunch (set menu - mid-range)
|Lunch/Dinner (a la carte - mid-range)
|Lunch/Dinner (a la carte - high-end)
|Bottle of water
|Bottle of beer
||£1.50 (Quilmes) / £3 (Heineken)
|Glass of wine
|Coffee / Tea
One thing to bear in mind is that even though Argentina isn't the cheapest country in South America, what you will always get is quality, so even in a cheap restaurant your food will be really good; if you order a coffee it might set you back more than it would in, say, Peru, but it will be GOOD coffee - you get the picture!