Main Banks Guide
It can be difficult to conduct bank transactions if you don’t speak Spanish, however, all major banks will have a manager who can speak some English. For everyday transactions, it can be frustrating, but the tellers are patient while you figure out what it is that they need from you. You will be required to show your passport or DNI for all transactions. Banks are open from 10 am-3 pm, with ATMs typically being serviced between 3-5 pm. Keep this in mind if you’re going to withdraw money during the weekday, as the machines are inoperable for an hour, and this is fairly common amongst all the banks in the city.
ATMs are everywhere, and all the banks have their machines in the front of the building, with access given by swiping your ATM card after hours. The banks are not a source of emotional security for most porteños and ex-pats who lived through the economic crash in 2001 when the banks seized everyone’s private funds and would not allow people to withdraw money. Because of this, Argentina is a cash-based society.
Most people deal in cash transactions, including storing large amounts of cash in their homes. Many locals will also convert pesos into dollars, as the dollar’s value is more stable than the Argentine pesos. In recent years, Internet banking has become more common and widespread, and all the major banks have an extensive online system for their patrons.
Wire transfers internationally carry huge fees, sometimes up to 20% of the amount, so most companies in Argentina won’t do it for smaller amounts. Western Union and Banco Piano are the best options if you need to transfer money, as their fees tend to be less than banks (even if it is your home bank).
These international banks have branches all over Buenos Aires:
- Banco Francés
ATMs are everywhere in the city and affiliated with one of two networks: Banelco (used by Banco Francés, HSBC, Banco Galicia, Banco Santander, and Banco Patagonia) and Link (used by Banco de la Nación). Cards in the Plus and Cirrus networks can be used with either system.
Daily withdrawal limits vary depending on your bank’s specific policies, and most ATMs have a withdrawal limit of AR$1,000 per transaction. All ATMs have the same transaction fee, which is currently equivalent to 4USD. Because these fees add up over time, it may be helpful to ask your home bank whether they refund fees.
Be careful anytime you’re withdrawing money; it is always best to do so during the daylight hours.