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Argentina - Banking

In 2001, Argentina was hit with an economic crisis that made headlines worldwide. The country’s financial sector was hit hard, leading to the closure of several banks and financial institutions. In addition, the country’s currency significantly lost value. All this meant that Argentina could not keep up with its financial obligations. This nation, which was considered to have a solid economy during the 1990s, ended up in an extreme financial emergency in 2001.

By 2002 and 2003, numerous foreign-owned banks moved their operations from the nation and into neighboring countries. Just a few foreign-owned banks chose to remain in Argentina. In May 2003, Nestor Kirchner was elected President of Argentina, and the Argentinean economy has recouped under his tenure. However, the general population remains cautious about taking long term loans. The expenses of managing an account and rates in Argentina are moderately high compared to other countries.

Banks in Argentina open from 10am until 3pm, although operating hours will vary depending on the location and the season. Banks remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Most banks have ATMs that are accessible 24 hours a day. In addition, some provide internet banking, meaning you can save significant amounts of money on bank fees by transacting online.

Money transfer in Argentina usually occurs without any difficulty. Internet banking is definitely an advantage for expats who have to transfer money between their home bank accounts and Argentinean bank accounts. Other means of money transfer often take longer to complete.

The use of foreign exchange bureaus is an option often considered by expats. Cash exchange offices use specialists from all over the world. Their main advantage is that they don’t require a ledger to complete. In addition, cash exchange can occur quickly and seamlessly; in just ten minutes, you’re done. Sadly, commissions tend be on the higher side. However, cash exchange can be helpful during emergencies.

Many mortgage applications have not been successful since the global economic meltdown. Nevertheless, financial institutions have slowly been approving home loans for individuals and businesses. Today, getting a loan is not easy, especially for expats. The base net salary required is around AR$1500 per month. Expats have to work for at least a year in Argentina to be eligible for a home loan.

Home loans are offered for new build and older houses, as well as for redesigning or expanding homes. Banks may offer up to 80 percent financing for new homes, provided the cost of the property does not surpass AR$250,000. In addition, they may offer 75 percent financing for purchasing or upgrading used homes, providing the cost of the property does not exceed AR$250,000.

You can be eligible for 100 percent financing if you want to redesign or upgrade properties worth less than AR$50,000. Expats can also be eligible for financing if they need a loan to complete the construction of their homes, provided the owner can provide at least 65 percent of the cost. The repayment period for a home loan varies depending on the loan amount and type.

The official currency of Argentina is the peso (AR$). A peso consists of 100 centavos. Peso notes are available in various denominations including AR$ 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Denominations for coins include 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos and 1 peso. Be watchful when receiving change after buying items, especially in Buenos Aires, as there is a significant amount of fake currency circulation, some of which are difficult to distinguish from genuine cash. Look at the watermark and the metal-shaded strip on the bills to determine whether your Argentinean notes are genuine.

There are a few approaches for changing currency from your home country into Argentinean cash. Banks offer great exchange rates and are often viewed as the most reliable options for currency exchange. However, their short operating hours tend to be limiting. Another alternative are trade stalls, which are found in the traveler zones. Better trade rates can be found here. You can also exchange your currency once you arrive at the airport to help you move around.

There are no specific rules for opening an account in Argentina. Each bank seems to have its own set of rules and requirements for opening one. In addition, banks have differing rules and regulations for opening savings as opposed to current accounts. Many expats use current accounts for daily expenses and savings accounts for saving money and earning interest. Expats are required to provide various documents when opening bank accounts in Argentina. These documents include:

• Unique identification document in duplicate
• Verification of residence

The unique identification document or CUIL is a number given to each worker once they begin to legally work in Argentina. Other documents that you need to set up a bank account include CUIT and CDI. Some banks may require one or all of the documents to open bank accounts for expats.

The two main currencies used in Argentinean bank accounts are Argentina pesos (AR$) and U.S. Dollars ($). The costs of operating these bank accounts vary. Some expats prefer to open both savings and checking accounts.

Most businesses accept major credit cards used in other countries including Visa and MasterCard. These cards can be issued by various organizations; there are few restriction associated with the issuing institution. Other credit cards that can be used in some businesses in Argentina include Diners and American Express. However, not all businesses accept these cards.

Debit cards issued by international financial institutions are also accepted by most businesses in Argentina. These cards work through the ATM systems of Banelco and Link in Argentina. There are no costs associated with applying for a debit card. Different cards might be accessible with extra charges.

Platinum cards in Argentina can be used to make payments in general stores, drug stores, eateries, service stations, and clothes stores.

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