You may be wondering “What is the dolar blue ?” So, we’ll tell you all about it in this post. You’ll also find here where to exchange USD bills at the most convenient price in Buenos Aires. Last but not least, we”ll offer some advice for the transaction.

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What is the "Dolar Blue"?

Dolar Blue Price is a the other price of the dolar
Foreigners are usually interested in exchanging their currency in the parallel market.

The “Dolar Blue” is basically the price of the American dollar in the unofficial market in Argentina. Since its price is much higher than the price of the “official dollar”, foreigners are usually interested in these transactions.

Those who are traveling to Argentina for the first time may not be familiar with how informal our economy can be.

There are many things that are not easy to explain from our culture. Like the mate drinking tradition! Regarding the economy, the “Dolar Blue” usually catches the eye of tourists.

Argentine economy can got through very turbulent times. Depending on how it’s doing at the time, the difference between the official dollar and the blue dollar can be up to 100%!

It is important to bear in mind that there are many restrictions to get dollars in Argentina. Therefore it is not possible to withdraw American dollars from an ATM. That cash money must be brought from abroad.

The Dollar exchange rate

Let’s consider an illustrative example with clear numbers. Suppose you come to Argentina with USD100 and want to exchange them for Argentine currency, the “pesos” (AR $).

Imagine you make your transaction at an exchange bureau or at an official bank, for example Banco Nación. Today (May 2022) the exchange rate for your USD would be as follows:
USD100 = AR$ 11700 *.

Now, if you exchange your money in the parallel market, the transaction would be far more convenient. So, with the blue dollar exchange rate, your transaction would be as follows:
USD100 = AR$ 20100 * (May 2022).

Such a difference!

Furthermore, there’s something to bear in mind when you use your credit or debit card. The corresponding exchange rate for these transactions is the official one. Therefore this is not as convenient as exchanging cash money in Argentina.

* These values can change very quickly! They generally raise, because the Argentine economy is very unstable. So, we’ll give you the links where you could check the updated exchange rate when necessary:

Official Dollar: Banco Nación

Dolar Blue:

Where to get the "Dolar Blue"

The City Center is the best place to exchange USD cash money
The City Center is the best place to exchange USD cash money.

You may be wondering how difficult it can be for a foreigner to do this. All this sounds quite complex.

Truth is it is very easy for everyone to exchange dollars at the price of the “Blue Dollar”.

Besides, it is definitely worth making clear that exchanging money in the parallel market is not illegal. Nor punishable by law. It is simply a private transaction between people. Some people sell and some others buy.

Many times, hotels or apartment rental managers (on Airbnb for example) exchange USD at the blue exchange rate. It may be a good idea to ask them first.

If they do not offer you the corresponding exchange rate, that you can check on the website that we mentioned before, don’t worry. You could easily exchange your cash money in the center of Buenos Aires.

Florida pedestrian street, in the city center, is the blue dollar paradise.

This super busy street is where you will find, right there outside on the street, the person that could exchange your USD for AR $.

Just by walking around there, you will hear hundreds of people saying “cambio, cambio, dolar, real, euro, cambio” or simply “cambio, cambio”. Almost as if they were singing. I know, it seems like a joke but it is true.

These people who say “cambio, cambio” are known as “Arbolitos” (“little trees” in Spanish). It’s easy to understand why. First, we could link the green leaves with the green USD bills. Then, remember these people are always standing in the same spot. Like a tree, of course.

What is the transaction of exchanging "Dolar Blue" like?

How to get in touch with a “arbolito” will not be a problem. They will ask you, as soon as they have the opportunity, if you would like to exchange money. Besides, approaching them and just asking them should be very easy as well.

The USD bills that you would like to exchange should be in perfect condition. Furthermore, they should preferably be USD50 or USD100 bills (high-value banknotes printed after 1997). Otherwise, you could be offered a lower rate.

Here’s more important information to bear in mind. It is likely that they will ask you to walk with them to an office in the area, in order to complete the transaction. It may also take place in a shop or in an office inside a gallery. Even at a newspaper kiosk that is actually an unofficial exchange office!

We know, it sounds a little scary for someone who is not used to it, but it is not usually dangerous and we have never heard of bad experiences. These people take this very seriously as a job, actually.

Tips for exchanging "Dolar Blue"

Plaza de Mayo in the City Center
The city center is usually the best place to exchange cash money.

It is best to go to Florida St. between 10 am and 6 pm. Then you will find most of the “arbolitos” exchanging money. You can also find “arbolitos” on weekends.

Again, it is generally safe, both the transactions and being in the area. There is usually a lot of police around, because it is the city center and there are many banks in the sorrounding areas.

In any case, we do not recommend that you exchange large amounts of money all at once. It is better if you exchange small amounts of USD. Besides, don’t forget that it could be a lot of AR $ bills and thay they may take a lot of space in your bag / backpack.

Here’s some advice. Being a foreign tourist, the traders may want to pay you less than what the website (that we mentioned before) actually says. However, just by showing your phone with the quote that you expect to receive, they’ll see that you are well informed about this. It’s generally enough to close the deal, they shouldn’t refuse the rate that’s published there.

There is also fear regarding fake peso bills, but we have not heard of any bad experience yet. Truth is giving fake banknotes is a crime, so “arbolitos” do not want to expose their activity and have legal problems.

Anyway, in this other post we’ll tell you how to spot fake bills.

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Charles · October 27, 2020 at 11:28 am

Beware of scam artists in the Argentina Blue market. They will show you the correct amount, you get bumped and get distracted in the transaction, someone asks you for directions, you turn around get back to business with your money and walk away. When you count your money they switched it on you with singles or worse plain paper – you got scammed. By that time it is too late the person you were dealing with is long gone.

    Biker Street · October 28, 2020 at 9:19 am

    OMG! It’s the first time we hear something like this. Of course you should be careful when you’re doing a transaction.

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