Black market currency exchanges in Buenos Aires - Money changers using Argentina's famous Blue Rate


hey everyone welcome back to first hand


most of the time when I travel

converting money into the local currency

is pretty straightforward you just go to

the bank or currency exchange hand them

some money they hand you something back

easy I mean it's pretty standard stuff

right if you've traveled internationally

he's probably converted money dozens of

times you probably have a whole pile of

foreign money sitting in a drawer

somewhere at your house but when I

landed in Argentina I learned that

exchanging money there was a whole

different story I thought it was pretty

cool and interesting so I wanted to tell

you all about it first a little back

story Argentina had been having some

real ups and downs with its economy a

bit of a roller coaster and lots of

inflation so you had a lot and I mean a

lot of people there who didn't want

anything to do with the Argentine peso

because of all of that inflation it was

losing money faster than they could earn

it so instead of saving their money in

pesos they'd convert it to US dollars

euros whatever other major international

currency they could get their hands on

well the government really didn't like

that kind of embarrassing when you're

citizens don't want your country's money

right so they put in laws that the

citizens couldn't convert their money

they wanted to force everyone to keep

their money in pesos so that's a back

story it's kind of weird but it wasn't

all that new to me I've been in a few

countries before where currency

exchanges are highly restricted here's

where it got really interesting though

as you'd expect a few pesky regulations

didn't really stop the people from

wanting to cash out their pesos and if

they couldn't buy foreign currency at a

bank well why not just buy it from all

the tourists who come to Argentina every

year as a tourist I could head over to

the ATM pop in my card take out some

pesos at the official exchange rate just

like just about every other country I go

to but the people of Argentina obviously

wanted my money more than the banks

because there was a second rate the blue

rate the black market rate you get for

your cash

and it wasn't a small difference between

the rates either as a tourist you'd get

about 40 percent more pesos using the

blue rate huge savings

way better than the banks and this

wasn't some super-secret rate where you

need to know someone who knows someone

who knows someone to learn about it you

could just pick up the newspaper and be

printed right there for you everyone

knew it but this is a black market rate

it's technically illegal so it must be

really hard to find someone to do the

exchange with right nope not at all in

one of series you could walk down any

tourist area and come across dozens of

people yelling cambio cambio change

change offering to exchange your money

for you I'm not even exaggerating on

Florida Street which is a popular area

with tourists almost every 15 or 20 feet

you'd have a person there they were

everywhere and not hiding at all I mean

just look at this guy here he's standing

in the middle of a busy area offering to

exchange money even if it is illegal it

wasn't hidden at all

so here's how it worked you'd go up to

one of these black market money changers

yelling cambio and you take them up on

their offer but they were just a sales

people out on the streets they'd walk

you over to another spot usually some

store that had a back room and in there

you'd get to the real money man he'd

have a big pile of pesos a calculator

and not much else in there you tell him

how much you wanted to exchange he'd

show you how many pesos you get and if

everything seemed okay you'd make the

exchange and go on your way

it may seem pretty weird or back alley

but it was actually a super easy process

other than it taking place in a back

room it really wasn't all that different

from any other currency exchange and

that was a really cool thing about it

even though these were black market

exchanges it really wasn't hidden at all

with all these sales people on the

streets trying to get business from just

about every tourist in the city but if

you're going to Argentina and we're

hoping to get in on some black market

money exchanges you're probably out of

luck recently the government removed the

law that prevented people from buying

foreign money so the blue rate has

pretty much disappeared I haven't been

there since but I'm guessing that all

the money changers are out of business


but it was pretty interesting while it

lasted that's it for this video I

thought the whole Argentine money

exchange thing was pretty cool and

hopefully you did too

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