Money in Argentina

Financial transactions in Buenos Aires are odd. If you use a credit card, cashiers don’t seem to like it. Once they realize you’ve given them a credit card, they ask if you could please use your debit card instead. I always say I don’t carry one (although I do). Using a debit card for minor transactions seems dodgy to me.

Pesos here are a bit long and thin. They’re also a bit grimy.

They’ve always accepted the credit card. If they were to refuse, I’d be happy to walk out. The process of running a credit card takes forever and the line of people builds up behind you. I think the financial crisis in Argentina is affecting the country in bad ways.

The Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is their equivalent to the U.S. White House. Eva “Evita” Perón made speeches from the balcony behind me.

U.S. dollars reign supreme here. People will LOVE you if you pay in dollars. I never have. I feel it’s much better to pay in local currency. I have heard that as soon as people get paid here, they exchange every peso into dollars if they can. That way they keep what little savings they have. Saving pesos over time is a losing proposition.

The flag of Argentina. The “Sun of May” is in the center of the flag. This refers to the May revolution when Argentina claimed independence from Spain in 1810. This flag pole is in front of the Casa Rosada in the Plaza de Mayo.

It’s extremely difficult to find an ATM that’s in working condition here. Many of them simply don’t function at all. When you do find one that works, nine out of ten will not function with your foreign debit card. When you do finally find one that works and accepts your card, it will only give you about forty bucks. Woohoo! $40.00! Now I can really party! 🙂

Here you can see the tall metal fences that surround the Casa Rosada. There are areas you can walk through the fences, but in an emergency, they can close all the entrances. It creates about a two-block cordon around the building in all directions.

To be fair, $40.00 really does go far here. I almost forgot, the ATMs that do function for me always ask if I want pesos or U.S. dollars. That’s weird. But again, people here love having their cash in greenbacks, not pesos. In areas where there is a lot of retail shopping going on, every five paces you find someone screaming, “Dólares! Cambio!” These are money changers. If people have pesos, they might consider going to these guys to get dollars asap.

Another view of the fences

I tip quite a bit in my travels, even if there isn’t an obvious tip jar; Starbucks, Subway, doormen, laundry attendants, whatever. Everybody gets a tip. Today the Chinese lady at the laundry service was completely confused when I tipped her 100 pesos ($2.21). She tried to give it back. I refused. A girl who made my sandwich at Subway really lit up when I handed her a tip. She acted like it had never happened before. Maybe it hadn’t.

I always tip. You never know when it might come back to help you some day 🙂

A group of five soldiers I ran into while walking around downtown. Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.