We arrived to Buenos Aires somewhat clueless of the rapid inflation and high prices. I had always thought people were exaggerating about how quickly the prices of everyday products increase, but now, the reality of 20-30% inflation is real to us too.
I’m no expert on parallel currency markets, but because of the economic situation here in Argentina, there are two dollar-to-peso exchange markets: official and blue/informal. The difference between the official and blue rates is significant. At the time of this writing, the official rate is US $1.00 to AR $4.88 and the blue rate is US $1.00 to AR $6.53. Check out today’s rate here.
Thankfully, we found out about Xoom.com, an online money transfer services that allows you send money from your U.S. bank account to yourself (or someone else) in Buenos Aires for cash pick-up or bank deposit.
The advantage of Xoom to cash withdrawals from an ATM is that Xoom offers close to the informal exchange rate, while banks operate with the official rate.
So far the process has been fairly smooth. We follow some basic guidelines we’ve learned from others’ experiences posted at BAexpats.org. Namely:
- Send money from a checking account NOT credit card, as credit cards will most likely categorize the expense as a cash advance.
- Make sure to use recipient’s full legal name on ID, no nicknames, etc. (If you are sending to someone else, verify this information.)
- Don’t send more than $2999.99 (we never reach that!) for a transaction or it could really slow down the process.
- Send money at least one day in advance so there’s time for it to process through XOOM and MMT.
- Take your Passport (no DNI needed) and just the transaction number (no need to print the full email).
Last time I went in to pick-up cash, the local business here in Buenos Aires that handles the transaction, called MORE Money Transfers (MMT), handed out some information that I found very helpful. So, I’m posting that here:
Under present Argentine Authority’s regulations — A.F.I.P., Anit-Money-Laundering Law Nr. 25.246 and Financial Information Unit (UIF) Resolution 66/2012 — in accordance with F.A.T.F (Financial Action Task Force) rules, MORE MONEY TRANSFERS SERVICE is compelled to request from all its clients (those ordering or receiving money remittances) the following data:
- Full name
- Passport or MERCOSUR ID
- Marital Status
- Address in Argentina
- Telephone number (in Argentina)
- What links you to the sender?
- Activity or purpose of your stay in Argentina
- Purpose or destination of the money of this transaction
- CUIT, CUIL or CDI (if applicable)
- Source of funds involved in this transaction
- If remittances amount is larger than AR $5,000, a sender’s identification number must be provided. Passport, ID Cards, Driver’s License and SSN are equally valid.
- If remittance amount accumulates with previous transfers (on annual basis) a sum larger than AR $40,000, you must provide information about the origin of monies involved, such as: a sender’s bank statement, senders source of income (salary receipt, employment contract).
As much as I hate waiting in line to pick-up the cash now that Xoom has become more widely used, it’s always worth it. So whether you’re about to travel to BA, have family here, or are living in BA, checkout Xoom and save some cash.
Xoom stories on BAexpats.org:
- Has anyone used XOOM before? – April 10, 2012
- Xoom account closed without explanation – Jun 18, 2012
- Xoom Question – Jun 20 2012
- Xoom.com Limit/Maximums – Oct 29, 2012
*Oh, I am in no way affiliated with Xoom or MMT, nor did I get paid to write this. Just trying to spread the word.