Argentine Peso - ARS
The peso is the currency used in Argentina. When you see an amount written down in this currency, you’ll see the amount is prefixed by the dollar symbol, $. This can be confusing if you’re not used to the currency or how it works.
The currency is divided into centavos and you can find out more about the specific coins and notes in use in the next section.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
Peso coins come in both centavo denominations and peso denominations, although there are more of the former than the latter. There are five centavo value coins in total, which are the 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavo coins. You will also see the 1 and 2 peso coins in use.
There are also seven banknotes, the smallest being one peso in value and the largest being 100 pesos in value. You will also see 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 peso notes in circulation. They are all distinguishable from each other because they are made in slightly different colours. The denomination amount is also clearly visible. As is common with many other countries around the world, Argentina has also released a significant number of commemorative issues of coins and notes over time.
From past to present – the history of the peso
We need to go right back to 1826 to witness the birth of the peso. There were two types of banknotes that were brought in, each of which had a different name. These were the peso Fuerte and the peso Moneda Corriente. The first was a convertible currency whereas the second was a non-convertible currency. Both were in use until 1881 when they were replaced by one currency, the peso Moneda Nacional. This was the currency used in Argentina throughout the remainder of the 19th century and well into the 20th century, until 1969.
As you can see the humble peso has gone through a big number of changes since the currency was first brought in back in 1826. It would go through a few more between 1969 and the present day as well. The currency in place now throughout Argentina is known as the peso convertible. This was brought in back in 1992, replacing a currency known as the austral. This hit a period of dire hyperinflation that had many adverse knock-on effects in the country.
How to get hold of Argentine pesos
You can buy Argentine pesos relatively easily. You can do this prior to departing your home country for Argentina as well as getting them once you are in the country. The exchange rate for the peso can be notoriously up and down because of financial instability around the currency. This means it is well worth searching for the best price you can find.
You should compare the rates from online currency providers as well as those in local bureaux de changes and at airports to find the best prices. Remember the situation with the currency is a little dicey to say the least, with both hyperinflation and devaluation being experienced on a large scale in the past.
Once you are in the country you can use the network of cash machines that are in place in various towns and cities. However it is worth noting bigger cities will have more cash machines: smaller towns may not have any at all. Try not to be without anything at all just in case you can’t find a cash point where you are going to be.
It is also worth using smaller bills if you possibly can. Some Argentine outlets will not exchange the 100 peso bill, so it’s worth making sure you have lower denominations wherever possible. You can also find out more about the country here - http://www.argentine-embassy-uk.org.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Argentine peso
Go online and use a currency converter to get the latest exchange rate. The rate you will be offered by a bureau de change will be slightly different from this to account for their commission, so bear this in mind.
Travelling safely with Argentine pesos
Tourists have a habit of standing out wherever they go in the world. This is just as true in Argentina as it is anywhere else. The country has been through more than its fair share of financial woes in recent times, and these have led to a rise in petty crimes. Of course the word ‘petty’ would not feel accurate from your point of view if you were robbed of your wallet or purse while on holiday or on business in the country.
The best course of action is to be casual while walking around enjoying the sights, and not to look like a tourist. This might sound odd but there is a lot to be said for such a basic step. All pickpockets like to go for easy targets, and this is just as true in this country as it is anywhere else. Keep your money, purse and wallet safely tucked away out of sight.
Another point to bear in mind is not to accept anything from anyone in the street. There are instances where someone will try and give you something but they will expect money in return. Make sure you never take anything in the first place and carry on about your business. It might seem rude but they will be persistent and yes, also rude, if you don’t give them any money.
Where to spend your pesos in Argentina – and what to spend them on
The best thing about visiting Argentina is the value of the peso. You generally get a really good exchange rate when compared to your own currency. Indeed you may be surprised how cheap some things are to buy when compared to the things you know and buy back home.
If you are used to eating out and shopping at UK prices, you might be surprised and tempted to make the most of the much cheaper prices you will find in Argentina. Their cuisine is very tasty and is resplendent with lots of beef dishes. The country is known for having plenty of livestock and they certainly like to make the most of it in their cooking. Lots of people are capable of producing basic dishes at the very least, and many will prepare far more than this for their families and friends. Grilled meat is very popular and while beef is probably the favourite dish, lamb and pork also make frequent appearances. Ribs and chorizo will also pop up on your journey around the country.
If you think all the food is meat related you’d be wrong. Salad is frequently eaten and you will find lots of familiar Italian dishes on your travels too. If you love pizza and many different pasta dishes you will feel right at home here.
In terms of places to visit there are many possibilities to consider. Buenos Aires is probably the best known city in Argentina as far as many people are concerned. It is the capital and is visited by lots of tourists every year. There are many famous streets to watch out for here, including the wide and appealing 9 de Julio Avenue and Florida Street. Buenos Aires can be very colourful and some of the buildings are very striking.
Make sure you don’t miss sights such as Parque Tres de Febrero, a park which allows you to escape the rush and excitement of the city. Elsewhere you will find the zoo and the Obelisk. The city also welcomes eager shoppers to enjoy the likes of Abasto de Buenos Aires and Patio Bullrich. These are huge shopping centres that provide you with a chance to spend some of those pesos you have with you during your trip.
Don’t be tempted to spend all your time in the city though. The rest of the country has plenty of great sights to share with you as well. Take Iguazu Falls for example. These are quite spectacular and there are more than two hundred falls here to see. In terms of natural sights you may also want to see the Andes, a mountain range that stretches along the western side of the country. Whether you are tempted to see the Perito Moreno Glacier or Tierra del Fuego, you will never run short of amazing things to see and do in Argentina.
The uncertainty and fluctuations seen in the Argentine peso may not go away anytime soon. However you will enjoy the ability you have to make your money go further when you pay the country a welcome visit. Argentina is full of surprises and if you want to enjoy a holiday there, or perhaps go on a business trip, you will not be disappointed.
Just remember you should focus on the natural and beautiful sights as well as the manmade cities and towns. This will truly give you the best of both worlds when you venture into the country to see what you can find.