What to know about pesos and tipping
If you're travelling to Argentina, you're going to need the Argentine peso. So what's the best way to access your cash and how can you get the best deal?
Currency: Argentine Peso (ARS/$). The peso is subdivided into centavos, worth 1/100 of a peso.
ATMs, credit cards and travellers' cheques.
ATMs are widely available in Argentina. Be aware that some ATMs may have (quite low) withdrawal limits, meaning you may find yourself racking up foreign ATM charges with your bank. Shop around at a few different banks' ATMs to find one with a higher limit if you need more cash.
Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and major shops and restaurants, but you may need to present photo ID to be able to use them. Bring a copy of your passport ID page to show shopkeepers, as it's best to keep your passport locked in your hotel safe.
In smaller shops and taxis, credit cards are less ubiquitous, so you should carry some cash with you.
Travellers' cheques aren't widely accepted in Argentina.
NB: Argentina's government has previously restricted the purchase of foreign currency in the country, which can make life difficult for travellers. While these restrictions were removed a few years ago, you should keep up to date with the news in case the situation changes.
Top tip: Tell your bank about your travel before you leave to ensure it doesn't flag your card as stolen while you're using it in Argentina.
- You can exchange Australian dollars for Argentine pesos before you leave for your trip in some banks. Rates vary between banks, so it can pay to shop around. But be aware that not every bank will buy your pesos back if you return with surplus cash, so think about how much money you'll need to ensure you're not stuck with leftovers.
- You can also change your money once you arrive in Argentina at casas de cambio – currency exchanges – and at some banks. You'll need to bring your ID.
- The country also has its fair share of illegal money changers, who operate on the street and claim to offer a more attractive exchange rate called the "blue dollar rate". While the blue dollar rate may seem better than the one provided in official channels, it's safer to use proper currency exchanges.
Tipping in Argentina is optional. If you receive good service in a restaurant, you can add a gratuity of around 10% on top of the bill. Taxi drivers don't require tips, but you may round up if you wish. Porters at hotels may also be tipped.
The cubierto charge
Many restaurants in Argentina charge a cubierto or cover charge. It is the charge you pay for cutlery, water and bread. The cubierto is not a tip and is not optional.