The official currency of Argentina is the Argentine peso (ARS), which has been in circulation since 1992. The Argentine peso is subdivided into 100 centavos, and you’ll find coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 centavos, as well as 1 and 2 peso coins. Banknotes come in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 pesos.
Argentina’s currency has a long and tumultuous history, dating back to the early 19th century. The first currency used in Argentina was the Real, which was introduced during the Spanish colonial period. After gaining independence in 1816, Argentina introduced its currency, the Peso, which has been the country’s official currency ever since.
This article delves into the history and currency usage of the Argentine Peso (ARS). It will provide an overview of the currency’s denominations, including coins and banknotes, and trace its evolution from the early 19th century when the Real was used during the Spanish colonial period.
Historical Journey of Argentine Peso
The Argentine peso, known as the peso convertible, has been the currency of Argentina since 1992. It’s often symbolized as “$” and is divided into 100 centavos. However, due to high inflation, coins valued under one peso are seldom used. The peso replaced the austral currency at a rate of 10,000 australes to one peso.
Argentina’s currency has suffered from severe inflation and even hyperinflation since the mid-20th century. This has led to several instances where the currency was replaced with a new version, with conversion rates ranging from 100:1 to 10,000:1. For example, when the new peso was introduced in 1992, it was worth ten trillion of the old pesos.
In recent times, particularly in the early 21st century, the peso has continued to experience significant inflation. By October 2023, the inflation rate had reached 142.7% year-on-year, which was the highest since the peso’s introduction in 1991.
Originally, when the peso convertible was introduced in 1992, it was pegged at an equal value to the US dollar. This 1:1 exchange rate was maintained until early 2002. Over the years, the value of the peso against the US dollar declined significantly, going from a 3:1 exchange rate in 2003 to 250:1 in early 2023. By September 2023, the official government exchange rate was 350 pesos to one US dollar, while the unregulated market rate was 768 pesos per US dollar.
In December 2023, following the election of President Javier Milei, the economy minister Luis Caputo changed the official exchange rate to 800 pesos per dollar, which was a devaluation of over 50%. This change was planned to be followed by a monthly devaluation target of 2%. At that time, the unofficial exchange rate was around 1000 pesos per dollar.
History of Coins
The Argentine Peso has undergone numerous changes and denominations since its initial introduction. Early on, the peso was symbolized by a “$” sign, often accompanied by specific symbols to denote the particular type of peso in circulation. For example, “m$n100” indicated pesos moneda nacional. Since the introduction of the current peso in 1992, commonly known as the peso convertible until 2002, it is simply represented by the “$” sign.
Historically, the peso’s journey began with the silver Spanish eight-real coin, known as the peso, used during Argentina’s Spanish colonial period. After Argentina gained independence in 1816, it started issuing its currency, including silver eight-real coins, still referred to as pesos.
From 1826 to 1881, Argentina introduced the peso fuerte and the peso moneda corriente. The peso fuerte was a convertible currency, tied to the gold standard, while the peso moneda corriente was a non-convertible everyday currency that depreciated over time. In 1881, these were replaced by the peso moneda nacional at a rate of 25 to 1.
Between 1881 and 1970, Argentina used gold and silver pesos, following international standards set by the European Congress of Economists. The currency system was then reformed to use the peso oro sellado and the silver peso, with specific weights and purities defined by law.
In 1970, the peso ley replaced the previous currency at a rate of 1 to 100. The peso argentino was introduced in 1983, replacing the peso ley at a rate of 1 to 10,000. This was followed by the austral in 1985, which replaced the peso argentino during a period of hyperinflation.
The current peso convertible was introduced in 1992, replacing the austral at a rate of 1 peso to 10,000 australes. Initially pegged to the US dollar at a 1:1 ratio, this peg was abandoned in 2002, leading to significant devaluation.
Coins in Argentina have varied over time, with the introduction of different denominations, such as 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 centavos, and 1 and 2 peso coins. Commemorative coins have also been issued for various historical events and figures.
Throughout its history, the Argentine Peso has been marked by periods of significant inflation and devaluation, impacting its international exchange rate and domestic buying power. The currency’s journey reflects Argentina’s complex economic history and challenges.
History of Bills
In 1992, Argentina introduced banknotes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos. Initially, these notes had the phrase “Convertibles de curso legal,” indicating their value was fixed to the US dollar. The 1-peso note was later replaced by a coin in 1994. Currently, it’s rare to find convertible notes, except in the 100-peso denomination. All these bills are of the same size.
The design of these banknotes features important Argentine figures and landmarks, each with a unique color and watermark. For example, the 2-peso note features Bartolomé Mitre and the Museo Mitre, while the 5-peso note depicts José de San Martín and the Monument to the Army of the Andes. Other denominations include Manuel Belgrano on the 10-peso note, Juan Manuel de Rosas on the 20-peso note, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento on the 50-peso note, and Julio Argentino Roca and Eva Perón on different versions of the 100-peso note.
In 2016, a new series of banknotes was introduced, adding 200- and 500-peso denominations. These new notes feature Argentine fauna, such as the guanaco on the 20-peso note and the Andean condor on the 50-peso note. The 100-, 200-, and 500-peso notes depict the Taruca, Southern right whale, and Jaguar, respectively. A 1,000-peso note featuring the Hornero was also introduced.
A concept design for a 5,000-peso note was revealed in 2020 but wasn’t issued. Instead, a 2,000-peso note was released in 2023, featuring the Instituto Malbrán and doctors Cecilia Grierson and Ramón Carrillo, without a security thread.
In May 2022, Argentina announced another series of 100-, 200-, 500-, and 1,000-peso notes, replacing animal motifs with images of historical figures and events. These designs include Eva Perón, Martín Miguel de Güemes and Juana Azurduy, Manuel Belgrano and María Remedios del Valle, and José de San Martín. As of May 2023, these designs have not been put into circulation. However, the new 2,000-peso note featuring Ramón Carrillo and Cecilia Grierson was released in March 2023 and circulated in May 2023.
Inflation and Buying Power of the Argentina Currency
Argentina has been struggling with high inflation rates for decades, which has had a significant impact on the country’s economy and the buying power of its currency. In this section, we will explore the causes of inflation in Argentina and its effects on the buying power of the Argentina currency.
Argentina experienced significant inflation fluctuations, with a rate of 54% in 2019, decreasing to 42% in 2020. The country’s economic challenges largely stem from the impact of the 1998-2002 economic depression and a history of poor fiscal discipline. While there’s a data gap from 2014 to 2016, Argentina’s inflation has been one of the highest globally in recent years. From 1980 to 2022, the inflation rate ranged between -1.2% and 3,079.8%, with an average annual inflation rate of 206.2%. This led to a staggering price increase of 902.38 billion percent over this period. By early 2023, an item costing 100 pesos in 1980 would cost 902.38 billion pesos. As of October 2023, the year-over-year inflation rate reached 142.7%.
The Argentine government has implemented various measures to combat inflation, including price controls and subsidies, but these measures have often been ineffective. One of the main causes of inflation in Argentina is the government’s tendency to print more money to pay off its debts, which leads to an increase in the money supply and a decrease in the value of the Argentina currency.
The high inflation rates in Argentina have also led to a phenomenon known as “dollarization,” where consumers prefer to use US dollars instead of the Argentina currency to protect their purchasing power. As a result, the US dollar has become a de facto second currency in Argentina, and many businesses now accept US dollars in addition to the Argentina currency.
High inflation rates in Argentina have had a significant impact on the buying power of the Argentina currency. The government’s tendency to print more money and the resulting increase in the money supply have led to a decrease in the value of the Argentina currency, making it more expensive for consumers to purchase goods and services. Additionally, the phenomenon of “dollarization” has further eroded the buying power of the Argentina currency, with many consumers preferring to use US dollars instead.
In May 2022, the Central Bank of Argentina announced a fifth series of banknotes in denominations of 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 pesos. These new notes replaced the animal motifs from the 2016 series with images of Argentine historical figures and significant events while keeping the same color scheme.
The 100-peso note is violet and features Eva Perón on the obverse, commemorating the extension of voting rights to women in Argentina in 1947.
The 200-peso note, in blue, shows Martín Miguel de Güemes and Juana Azurduy, depicting scenes from the Gaucho war.
The 500-peso note is green and portrays Manuel Belgrano and María Remedios del Valle, with an image of soldiers pledging allegiance to the Argentine flag in 1812.
The 1,000-peso note is orange and features José de San Martín, illustrating the Crossing of the Andes.
In March 2023, a new 2,000-peso note was issued. This note features the Instituto Malbrán and doctors Cecilia Grierson and Ramón Carrillo, known for their pioneering work in medicine. The design of this note was initially intended for a proposed 5,000-peso note. Notably, the 2,000-peso note does not include a security thread. It was officially put into circulation on May 22, 2023.
Currency Usage in Argentina
In Argentina, the official currency is the Argentine Peso (ARS). However, it’s not uncommon for businesses to accept US dollars or euros. It is advisable to carry some cash in pesos when traveling around the country, especially when visiting smaller towns and rural areas where credit cards may not be accepted.
It is also recommended to have small bills and coins on hand as some businesses may not have change for larger bills. Be aware that the exchange rate may not be as favorable as if you were to exchange your money for pesos.
Additionally, some businesses may only accept cash payments in pesos, so it’s always a good idea to have some local currency on hand. Having a basic understanding of the Argentine peso and exchange rates can help you navigate your travels in Argentina with ease.
Is USD Accepted in Argentina?
While the Argentine Peso is the official currency, many businesses, particularly in tourist areas, may accept US dollars (USD) as payment. However, it is important to note that the exchange rate offered for USD may not be favorable, and you may end up paying more than if you had paid in pesos.
Exchanging Currency in Argentina
If you are planning a trip to Argentina, it’s important to know how to exchange your currency. The official currency of Argentina is the Argentine peso (ARS), and it is widely accepted throughout the country. However, it is always a good idea to have some cash on hand, especially if you plan to travel to more remote areas.
To exchange your currency, you can visit a bank or a currency exchange office. Banks usually offer better exchange rates, but they may have longer lines and more paperwork. Currency exchange offices are more convenient, but they may charge higher fees.
Where Can I Exchange Argentina Currency?
Currency exchange offices can be found throughout Argentina, especially in tourist areas. You can also exchange your currency at the airport, but the rates may not be as favorable. It’s always a good idea to shop around and compare rates before exchanging your currency.
If you need to exchange money outside of business hours, many hotels and hostels offer currency exchange services. However, they may charge higher fees than banks or currency exchange offices.
What to Know Before Exchanging Currency in Argentina
Before exchanging your currency, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure to bring your passport or a valid ID. You will need to show this to exchange your currency.
Second, be aware of the current exchange rate. You can check the current exchange rate online or at a currency exchange office. This will help you determine if you are getting a fair rate.
Finally, be aware of any fees or commissions. Banks and currency exchange offices may charge fees or commissions for exchanging your currency. Make sure to ask about these fees before exchanging your currency.
By following these tips, you can exchange your currency with confidence and avoid any unnecessary fees or charges.
Choosing Between USD and Argentina Currency
When it comes to choosing between using USD or pesos, it is recommended to use pesos whenever possible. This is because many businesses may not accept USD or may offer unfavorable exchange rates. Additionally, using pesos helps support the local economy and small businesses.
Overall, it is best to carry a mix of both pesos and USD when traveling in Argentina. Use pesos for everyday purchases and USD for larger expenses such as hotel bills or tours. By following these tips, you can navigate currency usage in Argentina with ease and confidence.
To get the official exchange rate, you can visit a bank, or exchange office, or use an ATM. However, keep in mind that some ATMs may charge high fees, so it’s essential to check with your bank beforehand.
If you do need to exchange USD for pesos, it is recommended to do so at an authorized exchange office or bank to ensure you receive a fair exchange rate. Avoid exchanging money on the street or with unauthorized money changers as this can be risky.
When exchanging money, it’s important to consider convenience. Banks and exchange offices may have long lines and limited hours, while ATMs are available 24/7. However, some ATMs may have withdrawal limits, so it’s important to plan accordingly.
When exchanging money, you may encounter fees. Banks and exchange offices may charge a commission, while ATMs may charge a withdrawal fee. Additionally, some credit cards may charge foreign transaction fees. To avoid unnecessary fees, it’s important to research and compare different options beforehand.
To handle currency exchange in Argentina effectively, it’s advisable to use recognized exchange offices or ATMs. Steer clear of black market exchanges. Before using ATMs, it’s important to check with your bank regarding any associated fees or withdrawal restrictions. Comparing different exchange services can help you avoid extra costs. Additionally, carrying some cash is useful for emergencies, ensuring a smoother experience with currency exchange in the country.
Cost of Living in Argentina
If you are planning to move to Argentina, it is important to consider the cost of living. According to Expatistan, the estimated monthly cost of living for a single person in Argentina is around USD 1,182 (ARS $430,622). Keep in mind that these estimates are based on a small amount of data and may not be completely reliable.
The cost of living in Argentina depends on various factors such as location, lifestyle, and personal preferences. For example, living in Buenos Aires will be more expensive than living in smaller cities or rural areas. Additionally, eating out in restaurants and buying imported goods will be more costly than cooking at home and buying locally produced items.
One of the biggest factors affecting the cost of living in Argentina is inflation. According to NPR, the annual inflation rate in Argentina is over 120%. This means that the prices of goods and services can increase rapidly, making it difficult to budget and plan for expenses.
Despite the high inflation rate, Argentina still offers affordable options for those on a budget. For example, public transportation is relatively cheap, and many cultural activities such as museums and concerts offer free admission. Additionally, the cost of healthcare is significantly lower in Argentina compared to other countries.
In conclusion, the cost of living in Argentina can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle and location. It is important to research and budget accordingly to ensure that you can live comfortably within your means.
Don’t Get Scammed Tips
When traveling to Argentina, it is important to be aware of the potential for currency scams. Here are some tips to help you avoid being scammed:
- Use reputable exchange offices: Only use exchange offices that are reputable and have a good reputation. Avoid using street vendors or anyone who approaches you on the street offering to exchange money. It is important to check the official exchange rate before making any transactions.
- Check the bills: Always check the bills you receive to ensure they are not counterfeit. Counterfeit bills are a common scam in Argentina, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between real and fake bills. Look for security features such as watermarks, security threads, and holograms.
- Be careful with ATMs: Be cautious when using ATMs, as they can be targeted by thieves. Use ATMs located inside banks or other secure areas, and avoid using them at night or in isolated areas. Always cover the keypad when entering your PIN, and be aware of your surroundings.
- Use credit cards: Using credit cards can be a safer option than carrying cash. However, be aware of any fees or charges associated with using your card abroad. It is also important to notify your bank before traveling to avoid any issues with your card being blocked.
- Be aware of common scams: Be aware of common scams such as the “shortchange” scam, where a vendor will give you change for a lower amount than you gave them. Always count your change carefully, and make sure you know the value of the bills you are receiving.
By following these tips, you can help protect yourself from currency scams while traveling in Argentina. Remember to always be aware of your surroundings and use common sense when making transactions.