When you travel, you should have some of the local currency. Because credit cards aren’t used as often in other countries as they are in the US. And sometimes you’ll get a better bargain for your travel dollar when you pay in local currency.
Getting Foreign Currency
You can get foreign currency from your bank before you leave. Or you can withdraw money from an ATM at your destination. If you’re withdrawing money, the best card is the Charles Schwab debit card because there are no ATM withdrawal fees, anytime, anywhere, period.
You can also buy currency at the airport or in town. However, you won’t get the best exchange rate at the airport or currency counter. But if you need money to ride the bus, take the train or a taxi, it’s cheaper to get it in the country you’re visiting than to buy it in advance at home.
Especially in some countries like Argentina, Egypt, Iran, and Venezuela that have a black market currency. In these countries, you can buy currency at unofficial rates through the black market. Black market currencies exist because of factors such as high inflation and currency controls.
And you can get a better exchange rate in countries, like Argentina, when you buy currency from underground or black market exchange houses.
In Argentina, you can get an official exchange rate of 1 US dollars for 9 pesos. But if you go to a dolar blue (blue dollar) cambio (currency exchange), you can get 15 pesos for 1 US dollar. That’s 1.5 times better than the official rate. So when we went to Iguazu Falls we bought blue dollars.
Where to Buy Argentina Blue Dollars in Puerto Iguazu
Instead of exchanging our US dollars for Argentine pesos at a rate of 9 pesos for every $1, we sought out a cambio.
We had read other blogs that referenced having their taxi drive them to a cambio, but everything was vague and no one gave any real directions. So after crossing the Brazil/Argentina border, we asked about a cambio and were referred to the Casino Iguazu.
But at the casino, when we asked about cambio, not only were we firmly told no, they didn’t even let us into the building. Too many tourists looking for Argentina blue dollars? Or it wasn’t worth it to let us in. After all, our only goal was getting the dolar blue rate. We weren’t planning on spending any money in the casino. So it wasn’t worth it to let us in. So scratch off getting blue dollars at the casino unless you gamble first and then ask about cambio.
We drove into Puerto Iguazu, stopped at a hostel and got the location of a cambio where we could buy the dolar blue in Argentina.
At the Puerto Iguazu bus station they directed us to the shop that sold Argentina blue dollars. This is a well-known location in the area. Because selling and buying blue dollars is illegal and I don’t want to cause any harm to the owner, I’m masking it in a reference. (And that’s why you had to read all the way to the bottom of this post to find out the location.)
You can buy dolar blue from the shop that is the same number as Tony Gwynn’s jersey plus the number of fingers on one hand at the Puerto Iguazu bus terminal.
If you can’t figure out the answer, leave a comment on this post or send me an email.
We were given a rate of 15 Argentina pesos per $1 based on exchanging $100 bills. So if you exchange smaller denominations, such as a $20 bill, you might get less of an exchange rate. So, bring larger bills for the best exchange rate.
You should have local currency when you travel especially if you plan to use public transportation or a cab from the airport. In most countries, the best way is to withdraw money from the ATM. And if you use the Charles Schwab card you avoid ATM fees.
But in some countries like Argentina, you’ll get a better exchange rate buying currency from the black market. The official exchange rate in Argentina is 9 pesos for $1. However, you’ll get 15 pesos for $1 going through a cambio.
If you’re visiting Iguazu Falls, stop by the Puerto Iguazu bus terminal and look for the shop with the same number as Tony Gwynn’s jersey plus the number of digits on a hand.
Where have you bought blue dollars in Argentina?
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Friday 15th of January 2016
Hi Debra, due to the last changes made by the new government there is no need in exchanging money using this method (blue market). Travellers can now go to a bank or a currency exchange office and do it at a fair rate as the difference between the blue and official rate is minimal.
Tuesday 10th of November 2015
What great tips!! Now I want to plan a trip to Argentina!