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Think again about Argentinian pesos in Buenos Aires

We reached Buenos Aires by ferry from Uruguay and were very happy as supposedly this place was cheaper than Montevideo. Our centrally located, beautiful Airbnb studio on the 14th floor of an apartment building was waiting for us. And we arrived just in time to witness a stunning sunset. Read more to find out how much we struggled to find Argentinian pesos in this beautiful city.

And then we got hungry

But as it was already 8 PM we started to feel quite hungry. Therefore, we decided to take a stroll through the city and find a place to eat. The streets looked quite dangerous at night and it took us a while to find an area with restaurants. 

We found a great place where we had an amazing meal at a TEX MEX restaurant named Aqui me Quedo. I had the Creamy Chicken with Green Mash and Chris had the Aqui me Quedo Beef. This was one of the best meals we’ve had since we started our journey.

We just wanted to get water and some breakfast stuff

After we left the restaurant we wanted to get some stuff for breakfast. We had a little kitchenette in our Airbnb, so there was no need to eat out. We didn’t have any Argentinian pesos but we never thought it would be an issue as we have been able to pay by card everywhere so far. And Buenos Aires is supposedly the most developed city in South America.

But no. We couldn’t have been more wrong. It was nearly impossible to find a place where to pay by card – it took us more than one hour. In the end, we found a supermarket owned by some Asian people and we managed to pay by card. However, they used a very strange process for card payments. Basically, they would input the card details manually and then introduce the card in a tiny device where they also needed the security code. It was like an online payment, but physical.

Oh well. We blamed it on the exhaustion and were happy to have some food for breakfast for the next morning.

cannot pay by card

Buenos Aires day two

The second day was beautiful, we had breakfast, then got some work done. In the afternoon we decided to go to the supermarket around the corner to get some steaks and cook an Argentinian steak.

Easier said than done. 

The supermarket downstairs didn’t have meat as it was too small – only drinks and frozen food. They told us there is another one that has meat two blocks away. 

So we went there, took a trolley and got veggies and meat for our steak and salad meal. But when we got to the cashier we were told we cannot pay by card as their machine is not functioning. We got frustrated as we spent like half an hour picking the meat and veggies.

But as we were getting hungrier, we found another supermarket 4 blocks away. So we did the same there – but now we asked from the start if we can pay by card. They said yes, so we spent another half an hour picking the meat and veggies. However, once again we got to the cashier and our card didn’t go through.

Again, we didn’t have any cash. However, we decided to try to get some money out from an ATM so that we can finally get some food. This was also a challenge as on Sundays not all ATMs are open as most are located inside banks. But we found some on Google Maps. And so we tried to take money out from each and every one of them. We were even willing to accept their huge commissions just to withdraw some cash but we received an error every time. We were starving and frustrated that we wanted to buy food and couldn’t!

In the end, we returned to the supermarket next to our building. We got some frozen burgers as it was the only place we could pay with our cards.

pay by card - frozen burgers only

Buenos Aires day three

On the third day, we woke up thinking it’s gonna be a good day as it is Monday so we should find a place to take out Argentinian pesos. I did my homework before we left the house so I found a big Carrefour Market about 6 blocks away. We went for a walk and then went to the supermarket. This one was supposed to have everything and allow us to pay by card. But once we got there and asked if we can pay by card they told us we can only if we have our passports.

What traveler in the world carries their passport with them in a pretty dangerous city when they go for a walk or to buy food?!

So once again we failed to buy food. We found an empanada place that accepted card payments so we got one empanada each. 

We kept trying the ATMs but with no luck – we kept receiving error after error at several banks. It was so frustrating!

Buenos Aires day four

We finally made it. We managed to get the passport and card and went back to Carrefour. That evening we finally managed to make steak and salad!

We also found an Asian supermarket where we were able to exchange some US dollars for Argentinian pesos. Hallelujah!

Some advice for travelers in Buenos Aires

  • Try to get Argentinian pesos before arriving in Buenos Aires
  • Do not rely on withdrawing cash at ATMs – for us, it never worked
  • Some places accept US dollars
  • Banks, some shops and restaurants, currency exchanges are closed on Sundays
  • If you want to use your card, make sure you have both a MasterCard and a VISA and your passport with you when you go shopping.
  • pay by card atm

    Well, we asked around and understood that due to COVID-19 a lot of banks imposed more restrictions on card payments, so maybe we were just there at the wrong time.

    Planning a trip to Buenos Aires? Read our article to find out the best things to do.

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