Tag Archives | cash

Send Money To Argentina And Get The Best Rate

UPDATE (12/17/15): The government has allowed the peso to float and everyone can now buy dollars. This has devalued the peso and caused the blue dollar rate to shrink to only about a 5% difference from the official rate. At this time, exchanging on the blue rate probably does not make sense.

Quick Summary: If you have a US bank account, use Xoom to send money to Argentina and get the blue rate. If you have a UK bank account, use Azimo to get the blue rate. Read our summary on the dollar blue rate in Argentina for more info, as well as our complete list of money transfer services to Argentina.

UPDATE: Xoom’s rates vary daily. This post was updated with their rate of $11.81 on 2/3/15. The difference between the official rate and the unofficial rate has gone as high as 100%! Using your ATM card or credit card in Argentina is like throwing away money.
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Most U.S. expats in Buenos Aires have Charles Schwab bank accounts. This had consistently proven to be the best way to get money from U.S. accounts while in Argentina. Schwab gives you the standard day’s exchange rate for all withdrawals, charges no international fees and also refunds all ATM service charges (about $17 pesos per withdrawal). I was routinely getting over U$S 100 per month refunded to me. With all these great benefits, this next statement might sound weird…

stopped using my Schwab ATM card and all my US credit cards in Argentina as of May 2012.

I have found a better option – Xoom. (If you have a UK account, use Azimo.)

Xoom is an international money transfer service (like Western Union, but with much lower fees). You can send up to U$S 2,000 per transaction and up to U$S 6000 in a 30 day period. Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to their website, create an account and choose the amount you want to send
  2. Pay via direct debit from your bank account or choose to pay with debit/credit card (higher fees)
  3. Pickup the money from a More Money Transfers location or have it deposited into any Argentine bank account. If you choose to pick up the money, it will be ready within 15 minutes at most locations. Deposits to bank accounts take a couple of business days.

So, why is this better than using an ATM or foreign credit card? Because even with the Xoom fees taken into account, their exchange rate is so good that you’ll actually be getting more pesos on every transaction. For example, today’s official rate is $8.66 pesos per dollar. Xoom’s rate is $11.81. Here’s a quick breakdown of how that works out with an ATM withdrawal:

SendATM / Credit CardXoomSavings
Amount (USD)Official RatePesos ReceivedXoom RateXoom Fee (USD)Effective RatePesos ReceivedDifference (Pesos)Difference (USD)% Saved
$25$8.66$216.50$11.81$2.99$10.54$263.50$20.00$2.3119.58%
$100$8.66$866.00$11.81$3.75$11.38$1138.00$272.00$31.4127.15%
$500$8.66$4330.00$11.81$15.75$11.44$5720.00$1390.00$160.5127.66%
$1000$8.66$8660.00$11.81$30.00$11.46$11460.00$2800.00$323.3227.83%
$2000$8.66$17320.00$11.81$30.00$11.63$23260.00$5940.00$685.9129.28%

How much you save depends on how much you typically withdraw in a month, but you can see that at U$S 2000, you’re saving almost 30%. Now you can see why I no longer use my ATM or credit cards, and send money with Xoom to my Argentine bank account and withdraw pesos from there. This also works great for tourists visiting the country – make a Xoom transfer before you come and then pick up your pesos at the More Money location in Buenos Aires when you get here.

You can also choose to use your credit card to transfer money to Xoom, but this has slightly higher fees and your bank will probably charge a cash advance fee as well as interest.

Want to give it a try? If you use any of my links to sign up, we’ll both get a $25 Amazon gift card from Xoom. This is pretty much free money too, because all you have to do is transfer $25 in order to get the gift card. So, if you only send $25, you’ll have $25 transferred plus an extra $25 on your bonus gift card for $0.29 more than a Schwab withdrawal would have cost you. Give it a try – there’s nothing to lose!

Some notes:

  • The Xoom website lists that you can pick up the money in pesos or dollars, but that is not correct. You can only get pesos.
  • I have transferred money to my bank account successfully and picked up money at More Money Transfers’ location.
  • There is several More Money locations in Capital Federal (Buenos Aires central) to pick up the money at. The main location is at Libertad 1057 between Santa Fe and Marcelo T. de Alvear.
  • If you have an ATM or credit card that charges fees, you can save even more money!
  • This works because Xoom is offering a rate is very close to the official ‘dolar blue‘ rate.
  • Xoom only works with US bank accounts or credit cards. You can use Azimo if you have a UK bank account.

Let me know if you were able to take advantage of this through our contact form and I’ll track that we both get the $25 Amazon gift card!

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Buenos Aires News: Edition 7

Buenos Aires News25% Increase in Subway, Bus and Train Fares (english) [La Nacion]
Bus and subway fares will rise from $0.90 to $1.10 and train fares will rise by about 25% across the board.  The governemt is hoping to save $800 million on subsidies that it provides. Fares may be increased as soon as this Saturday.

Honda Delays Start-Up Of Argentine Car Plant [Wall Street Journal]
Honda Motor Co. said it will put off opening a $100 million car plant in Argentina by about six months, adding its name to the growing number of Japanese auto makers lining up production and job cuts amid falling demand. While Honda had planned to start production at the factory located in the province of Buenos Aires in the second half of this year, it now aims to open it in mid-2010, said a company spokeswoman.

Despite slowdown, polo is big business in Argentina [Reuters]
Polo tourism in Argentina is up and multi-million dollar polo complexes are under development despite the rest of the world’s financial woes.

Argentina Is Short of Cash – Literally [Wall Street Journal]
Another article on the coin shortage in Argentina and a possible, though not likely, solutuion.

Call it CSI: Cows [LA Times]
Cattle-rustling is an age-old problem on Argentina’s legendary Pampas plains, but genetic testing is helping police crack down on thieves. Plans are underway to expand a pioneering database of genetic samples from 10,000 cattle that has helped police solve 270 cases of cattle-rustling since it was established in Buenos Aires province seven years ago.

Teenage model once rummaged through bins for food [Telegraph]
Daniela Cott, 16, is tipped for superstardom after being signed up by the world´s biggest modelling agency Elite.  Daniela, who stands 5ft 10ins tall and has emerald green eyes, was spotted two years ago as she sifted through rubbish on the streets of Buenos Aires.  Last year Daniela beat 1,000 other hopefuls to win Argentina´s Elite Model Look final.

At least 2 die during climb on Argentine peak [Sioux City Journal]
An Italian climber and an Argentine guide both died when a storm trapped five mountaineers just below the summit of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas. Three other climberss survived.

Argentine Corn, Soybeans Reduced by Hot, Dry Weather [Bloomberg]
A hot, dry spell in Argentina has damaged corn crops and delayed farmers’ plans to sow soybeans, lowering potential yields. Corn was damaged this week when temperatures soared to more than 93 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels plunged.

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Buenos Aires News: Edition 5

Fires Burn Over 1,200 Acres In Argentina [LAHT]
A state of emergency has been declared in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province, where more than 500 hectares (1,234 acres) of forest have been scorched by several fires, forcing the evacuation of dozens of people, officials said Sunday.

Argentine automakers to sell at cost, protect jobs [Reuters]
Argentine automakers will sell basic models at cost through state-subsidized loans in a plan to protect jobs in Latin America’s third-biggest economy from the global economic slowdown. Local plants of Renault SA, General Motors, Peugeot, Ford Motor Co. and other automakers will participate in the government’s plan to protect 150,000 auto industry jobs and to keep production from falling steeply next year.  Now this is an interesting idea!

Argentine Unions Want Floor for Peso Devaluation [Bloomberg]
Argentina’s union leaders want the government to put a limit on the peso’s devaluation, claiming that a softer currency will fuel inflation and undermine workers’ buying power.

Madge blows $1 million in hotel bill [The Times of India]
Madonna reportedly shelled out a million dollars on the Four Seasons hotel in Buenos Aires after she and her crew checked out from its posh premises. The megastar blew an alleged 9,000 dollars per night to stay at the hotel’s private mansion while her 200 backing dancers, singers, make-up artists, choreographers, managers and security checked into another 110 rooms – costing at least 600 dollars each.  Now, I know where at least part of my ticket money went!

Argentina Gun Swap Wildly Successful [IPS]
As a disarmament campaign launched 17 months ago in Argentina nears its end, the government and civil society groups involved in the initiative announced that it has far exceeded even the most optimistic projections, despite the lack of publicity.  The Interior Ministry reported that the programme, in which people voluntarily swap their firearms for cash, has so far collected over 102,000 guns and 721,000 munitions, all of which were destroyed.

Why Have So Many Restaurants Closed in Buenos Aires?  (english version) [La Nacion]
An interesting read, about the closure and pending closures of almost 300 restaurants in Buenos Aires due to the economic crisis. Many of these restaurants had relied on the tourist market and thus increased prices so significantly that they lost the locals. It will be intersting to see if the new visa tax that goes into effect on January 1 will cause a further decline in tourism and what the fallout will be.

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Banking and Credit Card Fees

UPDATE (12/18/15): After not using my Schwab account for over 4 years due to getting a much better deal with the blue dollar rate, I am now able to use the ATMs in Argentina again and I’ll only lose about 5% compared to the blue rate. (This used to be a 50% difference!) Things always change in this country! Check out our guide to using the ATM in Argentina for the most recent updates.

UPDATE (4/6/12): The Charles Schwab High Yield Checking Account is still the absolute best way to get access to money in Argentina. While the interest rate is no longer 2%, they give you the day’s exchange rate and refund all ATM fees. I routinely get over $100 refunded every month. The limit for withdrawals is $2900 pesos per day which must be withdrawn as $1000, $1000 and $900 amounts in separate transactions. This seems to be a limit in Argentina as my daily withdrawal limit from Schwab is higher.

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I’m not planning on opening bank accounts in Argentina and I’m going to bring my U.S. issued credit cards with me, so there were a few things I really needed to consider:

  • Access to cash
  • ATM and credit card fees
  • Depositing checks in the U.S.

Access to Cash
While researching how to best get cash and pay bills when there, I found a lot of discussion on ATMs in Argentina starting to restrict access to cash. After some research, it seems that the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires sent this as part of a newsletter to expats living there:

9. Update on ATM Withdrawal Limits

Last July [2007], Visa debit- and credit-card holders got a surprise when ATM machines restricted withdrawal limits to about USD $100. MasterCard cardholders got the same surprise in late March. ACS has contacted card companies, banks and Argentine government officials to determine the cause of the restriction. So far, no clear reason for the change has emerged and no party is willing to take credit for this inconvenience to clients.

The good news, however, is that in response to receiving hundreds of complaints both Visa and MasterCard have doubled their withdrawal limits to USD $200. Both companies also explain that cardholders are free to make multiple successive withdrawals at the same machine up to their bank’s daily withdrawal limit. ACS continues to research the issue to determine the exact cause for the restriction on international ATM withdrawals and learn how much international cardholders pay in ATM fees as the teller machines do not normally provide this information.

So the good news is that you should still be able to access the cash you need even if you have to make multiple withdrawals. The bad news is that your fees could be increased for making multiple withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Card Fees
SchawbI decided that the best thing for me would be to reduce the fees I would pay by as much as possible.  Luckily, the Flyerguide Wiki has a complete guide to foreign credit card and ATM fees. After reviewing the list, I decided to open the Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account. Signing up was easy, and they provide online banking, mail-in deposit envelopes and free checks.  The account currently pays a 2.01% APY and also provides unlimited ATM fee rebates. According to the Flyerguide Wiki:

[Schwab] reimburses unlimited ATM-owner fees and many users report 0% forex fees applied by Schwab and customer service reports the same. Will not refund additional fees, on top of the transaction fees, applied by bank or atm you are withdrawing from. Confirmed on phone July 2008.

I also opened up an online savings account at Countrywide Bank because they were paying the highest interest rate (3.55%) and simply linked that to Schwab. The nice thing about Countrywide is that you can link up to five accounts which means you can use them as a middle-man to transfer money between your accounts if you have more than one.  I’m using this to transfer money between my personal and business accounts when needed (business account -> Countrywide -> Schwab account). Transfers are free but take one business day to complete. After this, you can close any other accounts that you do not need.

Depositing Checks in the U.S.
I was also waiting on some checks that didn’t quite make it before I left. Since I’m using Earth Class Mail (ECM), I know the checks will be forwarded to my online mail box, but since ECM does not yet have electronic check deposit (coming this year) I’ll have to have ECM forward those checks to my mom to mail in for me. I found out that checks do not need a signature to be deposited, just the words “FOR DEPOSIT ONLY” and the account number on the back, so while this is a bit inconvenient, it should work.

That pretty much sums it up.

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