April 4 – D – DOLLARS
Coming to Argentina meant coming with dollars – US DOLLARS – a valuable currency in this world of pesos. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that we couldn’t just use our credit cards or withdraw money when need be. Well we could, but we wouldn’t be getting our full value opportunity as there is a black market here that buys dollars for more than the “official” exchange rate. But I am an honest citizen, so this terrified me. However, this crazy world of Argentina actually publishes both the “öfficial” rate and the “blue” rate – which is the black market difference. Here’s the Buenos Aires Herald main page of the internet today – notice on the right – the exchange rates:
So, if I have $1000 USD – I can go to a bank and get 7960$ Pesos for it, or I can go Black Market and get 10,600$ Pesos for my 1000 green Americans. That is a lot of money in Argentinian pesos (i.e. a 15 minute cab costs about 50 pesos).
The strange part of it all is how open this black market truly is. There are people – men and women – on the streets calling out to buy and sell these dollars. There are also completely reputable broker houses, shop owners, and generally anyone who has a few extra pesos lying around who are eager to get their hands on our dollars by paying us at competitive black market prices.
It is crazy, but that is how to make your money work for you while visiting Argentina. Essentially, this is driven by the government preventing Argentinians to go out and buy American dollars on their own – in an attempt to control the economy in a land where inflation rates escalate at rates incomprehensible to any Canadian. I’m not the expert on it, but this article THE HOW AND WHY OF ARGENTINA’S CURRENCY BLACK MARKET is a must read to understand. And, like a normal Argentinian, I’ve gotten over my Canadian Polly-Anna concerns and enjoyed the advantage of this infamous black market way.