If you are planning a Buenos Aires vacation then it is important that you learn some basic background information on this beautiful place before you go, as it is a large, busy city with its own unique customs and traditions.
There is no need to tip taxi drivers unless they have been particularly helpful, but it is customary to round the fare up to the nearest peso, especially if the difference is nominal. The standard tipping practice of 10% is the norm in restaurants, as it is generally held that if you can afford to eat out in the city you can afford to leave a good tip. Unlike other countries most restaurants here will not be able to accept tips left on your credit card, so make sure you always carry some change for this purpose. Porters in the larger hotels may expect a tip, but this is not a common practice so don’t worry too much about it unless you feel your porter has been particularly attentive.
These days it is easy to use credit cards abroad, but you will still need some local currency for everyday transactions. The currency of Argentina is pesos, but some places do also except US dollars. It is common for you to be handed rather tatty and ragged peso banknotes as you make your way around the city. Don’t worry as these notes are accepted everywhere, but the important thing is to ensure any US dollars are pristine, as some places can refuse this currency if it is old or damaged. There are plenty of places to exchange currency in Buenos Aires, but city banks often have the best exchange rates. Always make sure you have plenty of peso change, as you will need it for buses and trains, and also smaller shops and newsstands that do not normally carry enough money to change large denominations.
The easiest way to take out money in Buenos Aires is through one of the many cash machines (including Cirrus and Link) spread all over the city, and there is often an English language option to help you make the right selections. Many of the machines have the standard withdrawal limits (around AR$300 in most cases), and also transaction fees.
Most hotels, large shops and restaurants take Visa and MasterCard, but watch out for a surcharge for carrying out the transaction, which can be as much as 10% of the purchase price. This can get expensive if you are paying large bills, so make sure you check whether there are any surcharges before you pay by credit card, and take some currency with you as an alternative just in case.
Travelers checks are not practical for most South American countries and Argentina is no exception. Even in the modern Buenos Aires it is difficult to find places that will take them, and the few banks and American Express outlets that cash travelers checks for you often charge hefty commissions or give your poor exchange rates.
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