How to take advantage of the blue dollar rate in Argentina | Western Union how to guide
Updated: Feb 26
Brief history of Argentina’s economic problems
Argentina’s economy has had a bit of a rollercoaster ride over the last 100 years. Back in the early 20th the French came up with a saying “as rich as an Argentine”! Back then they enjoyed one of the highest wealth per capita in the world & they stayed one of the top ten richest countries until the 1950’s, times were good!
However, since then a few bad decisions from different governments, along with some bad luck has meant their economy is in a bit of a mess at the moment (a bit may be a slight understatement). Due to this current mess the government has decided to introduce an “Official Exchange Rate” to stop Argentines transferring their ARS to USD which is not the same as what the currency is actually trading at on the international market, which is known as the “Blue Rate”. The difference in these 2 rates at the time of writing this blog is that the blue rate is around double the official rate, this still hasn’t daunted the Argentines who still turn out in their masses to the Western Union to change their money every month (although there a $200 per month limit on this).
This disparity means that it is extremely expensive for an Argentinian to travel abroad (there is even a cap on how much USD a resident can purchase each month) as the Pesos they are earning are only worth 50% outside the country.
What this means for a tourist…There has never been a better time to visit Argentina than now. Not only is it dirt cheap compared to years gone by you will also be doing the Argentinian economy a favour, as the more tourists who bring money into the country has surely got to help the economy!
I am not an economist & this above is my understanding of how things are at the moment.
How you can use Western Union in Argentina
I’ve decided to write this article mainly because we were a little nervous before our trip to Argentina, so to put your mind at rest & show you how easy it is!
Download the Western Union App
Click Sign in/Sign up
Fill in first name, surname, email & create a password. Click re T&Cs then "Sign up"
Add the amount of money you wish to send & the "Next" at the bottom
Select “Cash pickup”
Select which option you wish to pay by.
Fill out the Receivers information
This is your details as you are sending yourself the money.
Note – on phone number it wanted an Argentinian number – I simply put my UK number starting 44797… & no problems at all.
Fill out your details again as the sender & click continue.
Apple Pay or card will ask you to complete payment now. If you choose to pay by bank transfer you will be emailed Western Union’s bank details & a payment reference to use. I’ve used this way a few times, the only thing to note is that your bank may not allow you to enter the full payment reference which they expect. I simply added the reference which is a couple of letters then XYZ numbers but put DJackson rather than what they said to put EB12345678 DAVID JACKSON AR & no problems at all.
***Money saving idea!!***
Western Union offer 1 free transfer when you set up an account but charge thereafter. Pro tip, the account is simply based on your email address not your personal details so once you’ve used the free transfer set up a new account on a different email…Happy days!!
Planning your withdrawals
Whilst cities and larger towns in Argentina will have at least one Western Union branch, if you are heading down into Patagonia you will need to think about how much cash you will need for your trip and where Western Union branches are.
We withdrew a large amount in Bariloche, choosing to risk carrying cash than run out and be forced to use our cards. We were lucky but we also heard horror stories about tourists queuing for 3 hours + at WU branches so you will need to factor time to withdraw into your plans too.
Further south of Bariloche we don't believe a WU branch exists until you get to El Calafate but when we were there there was a 60,000 pesos withdrawal limit and a very long queue.
Obviously, carrying large amounts of cash comes with it's own risks and it is wise to ensure you have a good travel insurance in place should something go wrong. See our Travel Tips page for our recommendations of companies.