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[2024 Update] How-To Use Western Union & Argentina Blue Dollar Rate To Maximize Your Cash

This article updated for 2024 provides a step-by-step guide on how to use Western Union to get the best blue dollar exchange rate for pesos, with bonus tips to save time, avoid long waits, and find branches with enough cash. Plus, learn how to score a free $20 Amazon gift card! minutes

04/10/24

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About the author

Hi, I'm Marco Sison. I worked in finance for Fortune 50 companies before retiring early at 41 years old. I have been an expat for over 10 years, living in over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries outside the USA. I am a trusted resource on personal finance and overseas retirement for US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Association of MBAs, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller- Abroad: Expats That Thrive.

QUICK SUMMARY- USING WESTERN UNION TO GET BLUE MARKET RATES [2024 UPDATE]

  • Get 20-50% more pesos in Argentina using Western Union’s favorable exchange rate
  • Free $20 Amazon gift card for signing up with our referral link.
  • Western Union money transfers are free on the first transfer using our link
  • Over 150 Western Union agent locations in Argentina.
  • As of 2024, it is no longer possible to double your money using Western Union
  • Hour long lines are common at busy locations .

If you are researching a move to Argentina, you have no doubt found countless YouTube videos and articles discussing the country’s “blue dollar rate.” You may have even seen “travel experts” using clickbait headlines touting the blue rate as a way to get double or even triple your money in Argentina.

Due to the shocking devaluation in December 2023, all those articles and travel tips are outdated. Unfortunately, in 2024, there is no way to double the amount of pesos you get when exchanging money.

However, using transfer money by Western Union still offers you the best bang for your dollar. Western Union rates have consistently beaten the official currency rate and the blue exchange rates. Doubling your money is no longer realistic, but getting 20% to 50% more than official rates through Western Union is still possible.

As of the time of this writing, the amount of Argentina Pesos you get for one US Dollar using the official exchange rate is 835 ARS to 1 USD. However, if you follow the steps in this article and use Western Union to exchange your currency, you can get 1,248 Pesos to 1 US Dollar.

This guide is a companion to our YouTube video. You can watch the complete video guide above or check our channel to find more video guides on expat life abroad.

For anyone who has never used Western Union before. I’ll break down the step-by-step process. You’ll also get additional insider tips on which Western Union branches to use, how to reduce your fees, and how to make your transactions easier.

If you sign up using our bonus link, you will get a FREE $20 Amazon gift card, and your first transfer is free.

Click here if you want to skip the background info and get to the How-To guide

This post may contain affiliate links. I may get a commission if you purchase something using my link. Please note, there is NO ADDITIONAL COST to you. For more information, please see my disclosure.

6 Quick Tips To Prepare For A Move To Argentina

TIP 1. Use Western Union to get more pesos- Western Union is still the best way to change money in Argentina. As an added bonus, you get a $20 Amazon Card and Free transfer fees for using our sign up link.

TIP 2. Argentina is another country that requires an onward ticket- Be prepared to show a departure flight or a return ticket. You can get a cheap onward travel ticket $16 here.

TIP 3. Your home insurance will not cover you in Argentina- Protect your health with international health coverage that costs less than what you would pay in the United States.

TIP 4. Get FREE quotes to save on moving costs- International moves can get expensive. You can save hundreds of dollars using this form to get professional international moving companies to compete for your business.

TIP 5. Keep a permanent address with a travel mailbox- Keep an address in your home country to receive important mail from getting lost. A virtual travel mailbox ensures you don’t lose an important tax return, bank statement, credit card, or government document in the mail.

TIP 6. Pick up some Spanish Skills- Only 6% of locals speak English. You’ll make life in Argentina easier by knowing more than “Hola.” Get a free 7-day Spanish language crash course your transition here easier.

Table of Contents – Click To Expand: [2024 Update] How-To Use Western Union & Argentina Blue Dollar Rate To Maximize Your Cash

1

Understanding Argentina’s Unique Currency Situation

A Quick Overview of Argentina’s Economic Landscape

Argentina’s annual inflation topped 200% last year, beating out Venezuela to win the least coveted country title of “Highest Inflation In South America.” It’s crazy to think that Argentina was once the richest country in Latin America. There was even an old saying, “as rich as an Argentine.”

I touched on the country’s economy and the effect of living in Argentina on the cost of living in a previous article on the best ways to exchange money. I won’t repeat it here, but check out that previous link to understand more about the background.

The TL;DR version is that Argentina continues its decades-long struggle with inflation. Newly elected President Melei is taking drastic steps to stabilize the economy, but restoring confidence in the currency will be challenging with dropping foreign reserves and ongoing debt negotiations with the IMF.

graph showing 2024 ARS to USD using the blue dollar exchange rate
The Peso to Informal Exchange Rate is bouncing everywhere to start 2024

As of 2024, current exchange rates fluctuate wildly, and data forecasts predict that rates will stay crazy for the rest of the year.

QUICK TIP: You can compare the current rates between Western Union, Crypto, Visa, and Mastercard here.

The Blue Market Explained: What Foreigners Need to Know

Since the peso suffers rapid devaluation due to inflation, locals prefer more stable currencies like the US dollar. However, the government restricts currency to artificially prop up the value of the Argentine peso. Because of this dynamic, there is an official exchange rate and an unofficial exchange rate called the “blue dollar” or “blue rate.”

For most expats and foreigners, the main thing to understand is that cash is king in Argentina. While you can use your foreign credit cards here, many smaller shops and restaurants will offer you a cash discount that can range between 10% and sometimes 30%.

In my prior article, I break down the five best ways to exchange cash and three ways to avoid *HINT* Western Union is the best method.

Recommend Ways To Exchange Foreign Currency (ranked by ease of use and competitive rates)

  • Western Union
  • Visa or Mastercard (Or other foreign cards using MEP or Foreign Tourist Dollar Rate)
  • Black Market Exchanges called “casas de cambio” in Spanish or informally as “cuevas.”
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Using a bank in Uruguay

3 Ways To Avoid Due To Bad Exchange Rates

  • ATM Withdrawals in Argentina
  • Paypal
  • Wise

Step-by-Step Guide on Using Western Union

Step 1: Create A Western Union Account

  1. Click on our referral link. Important: You need to use this link to qualify.
  2. Click Yes to confirm the referral.
  3. Enter your username and password to create a Western Union account.
  4. You will be prompted for a PIN to verify your account.
  5. You can find the 6-Digit Code in an email from Western Union to your email account in Step 3
  6. Enter the PIN and click the Register button.
  7. You will be sent to the page where you initiate your first transfer for FREE.

Step 2: Make Your First Western Union Transfer

  1. Choose Argentina as the receiver country.
  2. In the Bottom Left Box, enter the amount of foreign currency you want to convert to Argentinian Peso (ARS)
  3. Choose Cash Pickup As The Payout Method
  4. Choose Payment Method- You’ll notice that Debit Cards, Bank Transfers, and Google Pay have no fees.
  5. After Choosing Payment, you can see the exchange rate and the total amount of pesos you will receive
  6. Click Continue, and you will see a fraud warning to now send money to people you don’t know.

Step 3: Verify Your Money Transfer

  1. However, in this case, you are sending money to yourself. You will be both the Sender and the Receiver to reduce any risk of fraud.
  2. On the next screen, add your full name as it appears on your passport. If you have a middle name in your identification, add the middle name in the receipt box.
  3. Entering your email and phone number is optional, but it helps when Western Union sends you the information required to pick up your money.
  4. Double-check everything. Ensure that your name is EXACTLY the same as it appears on your passport. This is how they verify your identity when picking up your cash.
  5. Click Continue to make the Payment.

Step 4: Go Pick Up Your Cash

  1. Once you successfully make the Payment, you will receive an email with your MTCN number (money transfer control number)
  2. You must bring your passport and payment reference number (MTCN) to pick up your money.
  3. You can pick up your money at any Western Union location (see our Western Union tips section for our recommended locations)

INSIDER TIP: Transfer Times Bank Transfers take four business days. If you need money faster, Google Pay and debit or credit card transfers are nearly instantaneous.

What kind of identification can I use to pick up cash at Western Union?

To pick up cash from Western Union in Argentina, they will require a valid government-issued identification, typically a passport for international tourists. Ensure it’s current and your full name matches the name attached to your MTCN number.

Other forms of acceptable government ID:

  • US or international driver’s license
  • Foreign Passport
  • Military ID
  • Argentina DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad)

What is the maximum amount of Argentina pesos I can get at Western Union?

Technically, Western Union has a $50,000 dollar transfer and withdrawal limit to Argentina. However, I highly doubt you can find a Western Union that will have that much cash available. We had issues getting $3000 worth of pesos and had to break the transaction into several smaller amounts.

Insider Tips On Transferring Money Using Western Union In Argentina

Split up large transactions

Tellers cannot give you a portion of your transfer. They need to have enough pesos to give you all your money or none of it. Depending on how busy a branch is, it is not uncommon for a branch to only have enough cash to give you the equivalent of $100 or less.

Given that Western Union lines can get pretty long you don’t want to risk waiting an hour in line only to find out the teller doesn’t have enough money to fulfill a large transfer order.

Avoid long wait times and the possibility of the branch running out of cash by breaking up large sums into smaller amounts and sending them in separate transactions. This is especially true if you need a chunk of cash to pay a major expense like rent.

This workaround makes it easier for you to find two Western Union branches with 500,000 pesos each instead of one branch that has enough cash to give you 1,000,000 pesos in one shot.

Choose Your Time Wisely

Hour-long lines are not unusual. Busy branches can have lines form before they open. To keep your waiting time to a minimum, try to arrive around 11 AM to noon. This is also the time a branch is most likely to have sufficient cash available for pickup.

However, be aware that many busy locations collect cash between 12:00 and 1:00 PM to reduce the money on-site for security reasons.

I also avoid going to Western Union after 4:30 PM, as there is always a daily post-work rush. You will find longer queues at the beginning and the end of the month, when local employees get paid, cash their checks, and pay their bills.

Choosing the Right Branch

Not all Western Union branches are created equal. Smaller branches have shorter lines but also limited cash availability. If you are picking up $100 worth of pesos, a smaller branch should be okay. But larger branches will be your only option if you need enough cash for a major purchase or to pay rent.

To save you time and hassles, I put a list of recommended Western Union agent locations in Buenos Aires known to have larger cash amounts on hand.

Recommended Western Union Locations With The Most Cash

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Establishing A “Regular” Branch

Building a rapport with the staff at a specific branch can go a long way in making your transfers go smoothly. We became regulars at a particular Western Union branch. Our teller shared her personal Whatsapp number and sent us a message when she had enough money ready for us.

Utilizing $100 Increments

Western Union transfer fees increase in $100 increments. For example, you incur the same $10.99 fee for a $20 transfer as a $100 transfer fee. However, if you transfer $101, your fees jump to $15.99. But you can change it to $200, and the $15.99 fee will stay the same.

To minimize your fees, transfer in increments of $100. This ensures you get the most money for your exchanged currency.

BONUS TIP: Promo Codes In Expats Groups

While inconsistent, it is worth asking expat WhatsApp groups if anyone has coupon codes to save your Western Union fees. Codes are not always available, but I have been lucky a few times.

ADDITIONAL TIP: Avoid Holding Large Amounts of Cash

As Western Union charges you per transaction, you might be tempted to make one large transaction to save money. However, remember Argentina’s crazy 200% inflation rate. Saving pesos you withdraw and keep one month can be worth 20% less next month.

In December last year, people went to bed one night and woke up to find their month worth 50% less the next morning.

It’s important to balance having enough cash and minimizing the risk of losing value due to inflation.

INSIDER TIP: Western Union Outside Major Cities – There are 150 locations in Argentina, but branches in smaller towns are less likely to have enough cash on hand.

FAQs: Western Union and the Argentina Dollar Blue Exchange Rates

Can I Use Western Union to Get Blue Dollar Rates?

Yes, you can often get favorable rates comparable to and sometimes higher than the dollar blue rate through Western Union. At the time of writing, the USD transfer and converted rate at Western Union is about 5% higher than the dollar blue rate, and an Arbolito gets me through a cambio.

Is It Safe to Use Western Union For Currency Exchange in Argentina?

Using Western Union for currency exchange in Argentina is generally safe. You effectively send money to yourself, so you are the sender and Receiver. To prevent anyone from picking up your money, don’t share your MTCN number with anyone other than a Western Union employee.

Is Western Union a money exchange?

Yes and No. Western Union is not a money changer in the traditional sense. You can’t walk up to a Western Union with dollar bills and ask for peso notes. However, you can instantaneously transfer US dollars from your debit or credit card and walk into a Western Union to pick up pesos.

Is there a Western Union at EZE airport I can use to get money when I land?

Ezeiza International Airport has a Western Union branch inside the post office on the 2nd floor of the Arrivals terminal. However, Look for the “Correo Argentino” sign. I don’t think they have much cash on hand to exchange. Therefore, I recommend confirming with them before transferring any money.

How can I avoid the transaction fees with Western Union?

You can use our referral code to save money on your transaction fees. Using the code https://link.nomadicfire.com/western-union, you will avoid the fees on your first transaction and get a FREE $20 Amazon Gift Card as a bonus promotion.

Another hack is that Western Union accounts are tied to email addresses, not personal details. While I don’t recommend it, I do know expats who create new accounts using different email addresses to save on transfer fees.


About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last eight years to over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Association of MBAs, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller, Abroad: Expats That Thrive . [view press...]


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