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Cash on road trip

Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
323 posts
11 reviews
Cash on road trip

Good morning

We are coming to Argentina in October and starting to plan the finer details, like money!

We will be doing a road trip around Salta and then on to Mendoza. We are very excited - it looks like a wonderful area.

Can you please tell me the best way to plan our money for this area. Credit card, debit card, pesos bought here before we leave, US dollars brought with us to use or change, withdrawing pesos from ATM machines? What is the best option?

We are visiting BA before this but understand that US dollars might be the way to go there.

We fly into Salta so we could withdraw Pesos there?

I need to order Pesos or US dollars here in Australia before we leave.

Thank you for your help - it is very confusing!

7 replies to this topic
Blackpool, United...
Level Contributor
3,174 posts
5 reviews
1. Re: Cash on road trip

I suggest you either get a small amount of pesos before arrival (around US$100-worth) or exchange for pesos at Banco de la Nacion at the airport (fair rate). Take the bulk of your travel funds in crisp US$100 bills, and exchange them as needed. Ask your accommodation provider in BsAs the best place to get your pesos (unofficial exchange offices called cuevas). In Salta, it's very easy to change US$ in the centre. There are men shouting 'Cambio!' in the cathedral square, or there is a proper exchange office nearby - turn right coming out of the cathedral and follow the street for about 100 metres. It's on your right. You need your passport as ID. I found their rate to be better than at banks. It will be quite difficult to exchange money outside of Salta and in smaller places. Not many banks change money and have limited opening hours. The same goes for fuel stations - fill up when you see one.

Credit cards are fairly widely used, esp for hotels and high-end restaurants, larger shops etc. You always need your passport - there is no chip and pin.

I'd only use ATM as the last resort. There is a hefty withdrawal fee of around $10 and low withdrawal limit (around $100), there is often a long line, and if there is no line, chances are the ATM has run out of money.

Edited: 01 September 2018, 00:15
Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
323 posts
11 reviews
2. Re: Cash on road trip

Thank you for your very quick and detailed reply! I'm looking forward to seeing the exchange men in cathedral square. We would not see that in Australia!

Can you tell me if the petrol stations will take credit cards? And outside of Salta?

I am wary of carrying cash. We have never done this on other trips. But I guess I need to resign myself to doing that this time - it seems the only way to go.

Again, thank you.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
1,481 posts
35 reviews
3. Re: Cash on road trip

Open an ING account here in Australia before you go. You get all atm and foreign transaction fees refunded, we got over $260 in fees refunded from 6 weeks in Argentina and Ecuador this year. Then just use that card to get money out from whatever atm you want or pay using eftpos. You do need to transfer $1000 per month into the account to get fees refunded but I just set up an automatic transfer from another bank. They also have Apple Pay. I used to use a velocity card but we just used it as backup this time. Hold off paying for anything now as the peso is changing daily, I feel so sorry for my Argentinan relatives at the moment. When we were there in May it was 15-1 now it’s 28-1 (Aussie). And yes atm fees can be really high, our biggest one was $18 but it was refunded within 24 hours with ING. Don’t carry too much cash unless your travel insurance covers you for it.

Edited: 01 September 2018, 03:39
Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
323 posts
11 reviews
4. Re: Cash on road trip

I have a Citibank card that I have used in a number of countries with no ATM or transaction fees. I just need to know that between Salta and Mendoza I'll be able to find ATMs that accept it. There seem to be so many stories of people having difficulties with getting cash.

Was your experience in using EFTPOS in Northern Argentina?

I am happy to carry more cash than usual but not heaps!


Destination Expert
for Salta
Level Contributor
4,137 posts
297 reviews
5. Re: Cash on road trip

Given the current (latest) argentine currency crisis, I would be inclined to take cash in USD as hard currency may well get you discounts at. The peso dropped dramatically a couple of days ago but seems to have settled. at least temporarily. Anyone’s guess as to what will happened from now on with interest rat3s hiked to 60%, the already rampant inflation is likely to accelerate and sooner rather than later. Change as little as possible as and when you can.

Debit/credit cards have usually been ok in bigger restaurants and petrol stations but I would always have cash as a back up. IME ATMs have been problematic to use and expensive with high fees and low max withdrawals. In 2008 we spent a lot of time searching for ATMs that had cash because the guys that filled them were on strike. In 2013, they worked only sporadically. In 2016 they would work at all for our (U.K.) cards. We were really glad we took a healthy supply of USDs!

I would consider booking accommodation now on a fully cancellable basis and see what happens to room rates over the next couple of months and rebook if cheaper.Try and find out if they are pricing in peso or USD.

Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
323 posts
11 reviews
6. Re: Cash on road trip

Thank you for all your help.

Level Contributor
294 posts
183 reviews
7. Re: Cash on road trip

We have just arrived from your trip to Argentina and during our two weeks peso dropped a couple of times again. We have been trying to pay by credit card in hotels and restaurants but after 10 days my bank announced me it was misused in some way and since then we paid mainly in dollars. I would suggest to pay in USD wherever you can, it is widely accepted but the echange rates differ from one place to another dramatically. You will need some pesos to move around, but as said 100 USD worth should be sufficient. If you want to save some money please note that in some places the rates are different in dollars and pesos (for the Hop On bus in Buenos Aires you pay 20% more for the ticket if you pay in USD)... Anyway, enjoy Argentina, it is incredibly beaufiful....

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