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The Blue Dollar, Explained.

Argentina. The country I was most nervous about when making our way south through Latin America. It's not that I thought it would be particularly dangerous or anything. It just intimidated me for some reason. Maybe because of the sheer size of the country or perhaps the fact that it is the furthest south I've traveled in the Americas up until that point. Argentina also had the most travel requirements to enter the country as a tourist that we had encountered (proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the flight, proof of COVID travel insurance, and a health affidavit).

One emotion countered these nerves, though – thrill. Yes, this country is unknown. Yes, it's intimidating. Yes, the Argentinians we met in Costa Rica were a bit standoffish. But, you know what, we were about to experience it all for ourselves. That excitement quickly outweighed all of my fears.

Leading up to our month in Argentina, we had traveled through a few Latin countries, most of which are considerably cheaper than the U.S. So, when we arrived in Buenos Aires and went out for lunch the first day, we expected the same low prices. Boy, were we wrong.

Our lunch was $40! Wait, didn't our friend from the brewery in Cusco rave about the cheap steak dinners and wine in Buenos Aires? Did things suddenly change? Were we eating at the most expensive place in town?

Not exactly. Anyone could go to that same restaurant, order the same food we did, and pay half the price.

Why did we pay double? Because I paid with my card.

Paying with a card will get you the official exchange rate in Argentina, which is highly inflated and fluctuates daily. 1 Argentine peso was worth .0099 of 1 US dollar when we were there. For example, if we ordered a hamburger that cost ARS 1,000 (Argentine Peso), it would cost us USD 9.90.

However, due to incessant inflation, an alternative, unofficial, yet very legitimate rate has popped up in the country. It's referred to locally as the Blue Dollar and doubles the number of pesos you would get compared to the official rate.

Essentially, if you go to an official bank to withdraw pesos, you will get one price, but if you go to an unofficial exchange and get the "Blue" rate, you will receive double the pesos for the same amount of USD.

Let's get into a bit of the history of how this happened, shall we?

The Blue Dollar sprang up as a response to currency controls implemented by the Cristina Kirchner administration in 2011, limiting Argentinians' ability to exchange pesos for foreign, more stable currencies. And again, in 2019, the Central Bank of the Argentine Republic decided to limit the amount of USD that an individual could buy to $200 per month (as a means to protect their reserves). This reinforced the need for the 'black market' rate, the Blue Rate, which parallels the official rate.

You can visit Argentine news websites, like Cronista, for daily reports on the rates.

Argentina exchange rates from April 17, 2022 on the Cronista website.
These are the rates posted on the Cronista website from April 17, 2022.

So, at this point, you're probably wondering, Where can I get the Blue Dollar rate? And, Is it safe to go to an unofficial place to exchange my USD for pesos?

We found three options when trying to obtain the Blue Dollar in Buenos Aires (listed below).

1. Western Union

Western Union is a global money transfer company. They let you transfer funds from your bank account in the U.S. to any Western Union location in the world. All you have to do is create an account, initiate a transfer from your bank, and take the transfer ID # along with your passport and a photocopy of your passport to any Western Union location to pick up the cash (in pesos, of course).

The great thing about Western Union is that they give you the "Blue" rate. So, when we transferred $500, we picked up around 100,000 pesos. If we went to a bank and tried to pull out $500 in pesos, we would have received 50,000. Yes, our money was instantly doubled.

This was how we got our pesos during the month we spent in Buenos Aires, mainly because we didn't have any cash USD on us by that point in the trip.


  • Very safe

  • Lots of locations around the city


  • It can be time-consuming. Sometimes a location might not have enough pesos to complete your transfer, so you have to try another location or ask when they will get more pesos in and come back later.

But if you're traveling directly to Argentina from the U.S., you may want to consider this next option...

2. Cash Exchange on Calle Florida

This is a well-known option for travelers looking to exchange their cold hard cash for Blue Dollar pesos. We did not exchange this way because, as I just mentioned, we did not have cash in USD. But you can go to this shopping area and find someone advertising "Cambio" to get your Blue rate exchange.

Two things to note with this option:

  1. It's been reported that some traders will give out counterfeits, so be sure to know what to look for. These two guides might help: How to Spot Fake Argentine Pesos and BA Basics Counterfeit Money.

  2. You may need to negotiate your price, so make sure you know the current exchange rate before you bargain. Check out Cronista for reporting on daily rates.

3. Ask Around

Our Airbnb host told us to let her know if we needed to exchange USD for the Blue Dollar, and she could link us up with a friend that would give us the Blue rate. Again, we didn't have any US cash, so this wasn't an option for us. But, I'm willing to bet that quite a few people offer such service around BA. So, when you get into your hotel or Airbnb, try asking your host if they can get you the Blue rate or know anyone that can.

Disclaimer: I am not a financial professional. I have no formal financial education. I am not a financial advisor or associated to the Argentinian government in any official capacity. This is not financial advice, investing advice, or tax advice. The information on this website is for informational and recreational purposes only. Do your own due diligence. What worked for me, may not work for you.



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My boyfriend and I started our digital nomad journey in December 2021. We're just starting out and want to share all the ups and downs with you!

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