American Airlines Restricts Ticket Sales in Argentina

I haven’t even been back in Argentina a full day and the dollar blue hits a record high of $15! That’s immediately followed by American Airlines announcing that they are restricting ticket sales in Argentina. Ahh, financial uncertainty how I’ve missed you.

american airlines argentina 300x225 American Airlines Restricts Ticket Sales in Argentina

We used to be so happy together.

American Airlines will no longer sell tickets to or from Argentina for purchase in pesos for more than 90 days out. Want to fly from Buenos Aires to New York after December 18? Sorry, you’ll have to choose a different airline (while you can).

American is implementing this measure because of the widening gap between the official exchange rate ($8.43) and the blue rate ($15.00). Without knowing where this will end up, they do not want to get stuck holding pesos that become more and more worthless everyday.

So, here’s why American Airlines is not happy (and how you can benefit)…

Assume I want to go from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Miami (MIA) for a week in October. If I”m on the American Airlines website in the United States, the fare comes out to U$S 1213. Switching my country to Argentina, I find the same flight for U$S 1688 (higher due to the 35% Argentine tax on travel). Which one do I book?

Well, paying for that U$S 1688 flight on my Argentine credit card, I’d get billed at the official exchange rate, and end up with a charge of ARS $14,230. Now, if I convert my dollars at the blue rate to pay off the credit card, I’d only owe U$S 949. That’s a savings of almost 25% off the flight for me!

The 35% travel tax implemented by the government last December was designed to make this practice less attractive, but since the gap between the official rate and blue rate keeps widening, this is once again an attractive option for booking tickets.

Only time will tell what happens next…

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Things I Miss About Argentina

bidet argentina 300x225 Things I Miss About ArgentinaWe’ve now been in the United States for the last two and a half months and are quickly approaching the time of our return to Buenos Aires, so I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on some of the things that I miss most about Argentina…

  1. Our nanny
    We had only recently found our part-time nanny Maria, and she has been great! With two kids, she gives us the perfect reprieve from having to give them constant attention. Unfortunately, here in Vermont nannies are few and far between. (And a lot more expensive too.) It will be so great to get back and have her help – plus, the kids miss her a lot.
  2. Our dogs
    While I know they are in the good care of my brother-in-law, its hard to leave behind these furry members of the family. Still, I am quite happy that he was the one who had to walk them all winter, and I’ll get to take over as the spring arrives. Thanks, Andy!
  3. Our housekeeper
    Ok, so domestic help is a lot more common in Argentina than in the United States, but yes, I’m tired of cleaning up after myself. Our housekeeper is a life saver – she cleans, does laundry/ironing and even leaves the fridge stocked with home cooked meals for the week!
  4. The “dolar blue”
    When we left Buenos Aires, the dolar blue was at $11.95. It’s now $14.25! This is great, but the real question (as always) is how much inflation will take a bite out of this increase, and of course, where the country will end up with their recent “technical” default. It’s always fun to leave Argentina for a few months and see how much prices have gone up.
  5. Great restaurants
    Ok, so maybe we’re a bit sheltered here in Vermont and our dining experiences have mostly consisted of chains like Friendly’s and Applebee’s, but I cannot wait to get back to Buenos Aires for some fine dining! Even at the chain restaurants in the US, with a family of four, we cannot get out of there for under forty bucks. I’m still hoping that $570 pesos (U$S 40) in BA gets us an amazing meal at a top restaurant.
  6. Ice cream
    We toured the Ben and Jerry’s Factory in Vermont and let me say, “Argentine ice cream has spoiled me.” I do not think good ole Ben and Jerry’s stands up to Freddo, Volta or Persicco at all. It was actually a disappointment because I used to think Ben & Jerry’s was the best.
  7. The bidet
    Ok, it took me several years of living in Buenos Aires before I got comfortable with the bidet, but now that I have, I cannot imagine life without it. Is this TMI? If I ever move back to the US full time, a bidet installation will definitely be on the “to do” list for any house we live in. I’m not going to expand on this one anymore.
  8. The city
    Country living has been great, but I’m looking forward to getting back to the vibrant city that is Buenos Aires, especially now that our youngest is a year old and much less of a headache. Hopefully we can actually get out of our apartment and do some more exploring now! I’m sure that going from sleeping in complete silence to sleeping in the city will take a bit of getting used to.

That’s my list.

I’m sure that after a few weeks back in BA, I’ll be posting “Things I miss about the US ” and, for some reason, I’m still pretty sure it will be quite a bit longer…

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Is Ria Money Transfer Better Than Xoom For Sending Money To Argentina?

ria money transfer Is Ria Money Transfer Better Than Xoom For Sending Money To Argentina?We’ve been big fans of using Xoom to transfer money from the United States to Argentina at near the blue rate, but now it looks like competitor Ria Money Transfer may be giving Xoom a run for its money!

We’ve been hearing rumors that Ria pays a higher exchange rate, and looking at the numbers today it appears to be true. While Xoom is paying ARS $11.36, Ria ia paying ARS $11.84. However, sending from Xoom has a transaction fee while using Ria and a checking account does not. (They do have fees for paying with debit card or credit card.)

Taking a sample transaction of U$S 1000, with Xoom you’d get a rate of $11.03 after fees, while with Ria the rate is still $11.84.

While Ria works the same as Xoom (send money from a US account to be picked up in Argentina or deposited to an Argentine bank account), there are a couple of tricks to using Ria that you need to be aware of:

  1. You need to connect from the United States to use it (not just have a US account). If you’re in Argentina, you will need a VPN service that spoofs your IP address to make it look like you’re in the US.
  2. You cannot send money to yourself. You’ll need to send from a friend or family member or vice-versa and receive to a friend or family member.

If you’ve been relying on Xoom for getting close to the blue rate in Argentina, Ria may make sense for getting a better rate. If you use our link, you’ll also get a $10 Amazon gift card on your first transfer.

Let us know how it goes.

 

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Getting a Local Argentine Phone Number (with Vonage)

vonage Getting a Local Argentine Phone Number (with Vonage)We’re heading back to the US for a 3-month visit and during this time we need to be able to keep in touch with family and friends in Buenos Aires. Rather than the hassle of the old days where we had to use expensive international dialing and calling cards, now we simply get a local Argentine phone number from Vonage to take with us.

I’ve been a huge fan of Vonage for many years due to their excellent quality and reliability. I use it in Argentina and the call quality is crystal clear, plus I can forward calls to my mobile phone for a low rate when I’m out. (This has proven to be better than any iPhone apps due to the spotty 3G coverage here.)

Their “virtual phone number” feature allows you to get a local number in any of the 21 countries they support. So, for an additional $9.99/month, we’re able to get a local Argentine number that we can give to everyone while we’re away. Convenient and simple. We just take the Vonage router back to the US with us and plug it in there. Plus, we do not have to worry about whether family and friends have a smartphone with the right app – they simply call a local number.

While we’re using this local number for traveling, this could also be an option for those who need a local Argentine number and do not have a DNI. As our local phone bill is only U$S3/month, that’s the better option for us, so we’ll simply cancel this virtual number when we get back to Argentina.

 

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