The currency in Argentina is the Argentine Peso, which is written as “AR$100”. The exchange rate changes daily, but AR$100 is somewhere around USD $6.25. We think in terms of pesos into dollars (and are almost at the point of not needing to think of it in dollars), but most people at home are probably wondering what a dollar is to a peso. One US dollar is about AR$16. To give you a sense of some of the costs:
- AR$1000: a budget private double room with a shared bathroom & breakfast (about $63)
- AR$25: an empanada – kind’ve like a small calzone filled with meat or other filling (about $1.60)
- AR$70-150: a mid to low end bottle of wine (about $9.70)
- AR$610: a somewhat splurge nice dinner for 2 that includes wine & tip (about $40)
While things are a bit more expensive than we thought they’d be, they are still cheaper than the US, for the most part. But definitely a lot more expensive than Southeast Asia.
The commons bills for Argentine pesos we’ve had are 5s, 10s, 20s, 50s, 100s, and some 500s. There are 1 peso coins, and there are cent coins (under 1 peso), but basically nobody wants to use them because they are more a nuisance than useful (kind’ve like pennies in the US). If your grocery bill comes to AR$247.67, they generally just drop the cents part and charge you to the whole pesos amount (so AR$247). Many things are priced in 5 peso increments to avoid coins at all/keep it easy.
Argentina’s currency has had some very challenging years in the past and has averaged near a 30% inflation rate, which is a little insane. Not very many places accept credit cards and most only work in cash and the prices are always changing. It is really tough for the Argentine people because salary increases have not at all caught up with the increase in the cost of living.
Having to do mostly everything in cash has been challenging because the most we’re able to get at an ATM is AR$2400/US$155 (twice in one visit). For a while, we could only find ATMs that would give out only 100 peso bills – so we’d leave after one visit with 48 bills – or 96 if we both withdrew to the max.
We currently have over 100 AR $100 bills (so AR $10,000), which is only $644. It’s pretty insane because we have wads and wads and wads of bills!
At one point, the guidebook said of the next place we were going: “the ATM runs out of money, so be sure to bring enough cash with you”. Then when we looked to the next place we were going after that, it said “bring enough cash from your last place because the ATM doesn’t always work/runs out of money”.
So we’ve developed an ATM bingeing/money hording problem and feel obligated to go an ATM every time we see one. We literally took the max withdrawal out twice per day for a week straight. We’re happy to report that it paid off and we made it through the remote areas with our crazy stockpile of pesos without ever having to go back to an ATM.
We did find that sometimes if you bought something and didn’t have the correct peso amount, they would give you your change (less than AR$5) in candy.