Shivani talks about all things money in this week's post. She shares what you need to consider and be prepared for, such as currency exchange, credit card transaction fees, drawing out cash overseas and convenience charges, and more. Ensure a smooth time studying abroad in Buenos Aires by reading these tips!
Something I wish was emphasized more was the different ways to take out money in Buenos Aires. Most individuals I spoke to wished they knew more about the money exchange policies as well.
Firstly, pesos are very convenient to use in comparison to credit cards. For taxis and some restaurants or shops, people will only accept your cash and you will not have the option to swipe a credit card or do another type of transaction. I have noticed that in places that do allow credit cards, it takes much longer to pay. Many times at restaurants and bars I have noticed that people who pay with credit hold up the line a bit and in general it does create a slower transaction.
With that being said, it is nice to have a credit card to pay for bigger expenses and I know many people who paid most of their purchases with a card. Although I preferred cash because of the reasons above, this does not mean others had any trouble whatsoever. Another note to keep in mind is that depending on the company, the card may have an international fee of for example 3% on every purchase. These fees are pretty small but could add a chunk of unnecessary money to the bill if the bill is large.
American dollars and Argentinian pesos.
In terms of exchanging money, I noticed that many local residents would exchange their pesos to U.S. dollars in order to keep their cash in a stable currency. Since the value of the peso has been changing quite frequently recently, it has been more beneficial to keep most money in U.S. dollars and some pocket change in pesos.
Something many students did not realize at all until they were already in Buenos Aires was how high the ATM transaction fees are for certain American cards. Many times, each time a student wanted to withdraw money, the maximum amount would be about $50 but the fee to withdraw would be about $10. Therefore, to take out a sum of money it was about a 10% minimum, which added up VERY quickly. I would suggest either investing in a credit card that does not have international fees or bringing more U.S. dollars on your trip.
Money exchange places are all over the city; they exist on almost every other block. This makes it extremely easy to exchange dollars to pesos or other currencies if needed. So are ATMs if needed as well.
Overall, my advice to you is that you should check with your card company to inform yourself on international fees and/or get a new credit card that’s designed for travelers with good exchange rates and no international transactions fees. Along with this, I suggest you bring cash with you and be prepared to use cash a lot more than you do now. Hope this helps!
Shivani Pandya is an alumnus of the spring 2019 CAPA Buenos Aires program, where she shared her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. She is currently a Bioinformatics major at University of Pittsburgh.
See more of Shivani's journey in Buenos Aires, Argentina.