Fake Money in Argentina

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I mentioned the problem of counterfeit currency here in Argentina in an earlier post called 15 Money Tips for Travelers in Argentina, but the practice seems to be becoming more pervasive, so let’s update those tips and include a lesson on how to spot fake bills. (If you think you already know how, try our quiz to test your skills). 

Why the update? Well, our last guests in The Loft exchanged US dollars at the airport and were given 200 pesos worth of fake bills. At the airport! They didn’t realize they were fake until they tried to pay a cab driver with one. He handed it back telling them it was a fake.

I thought that the cab driver might have actually switched out their real bill for a fake one (that’s #7 on my list of 15 money tips). But they assured me that’s not how it happened and when we checked the rest of their bills, they had three fakes in total.

How to Spot Fake Argentinean Currency

Hold the bill up in front of a light. You will be looking for a couple of things as you do this. Have a look at these photos below. In both photos, the top bill is real and the bottom one is fake.

Fake Argentine Pesos Watermarks

Real vs. Fake Argentine Pesos

The Watermark

You should see a clear and very well defined watermark of the face of the ex-president that’s on the bill. Look at these photos above. The watermarks on the top are well defined even in the shadows. The lines are clear and clean. The fake on the left is pretty good, but the shadows don’t have the definition. The fake on the right is pathetic. Also, be sure to flip the bill over and look at it from both sides. You can typically spot a fake watermark when you look at the back side of it because it’s been printed on that side and it isn’t a watermark at all.

The Initials

Below the face, you should see the initials of that ex-president. On the 100s, the ex-president is Julio Argentino Roca (JAR). The fake on the right (in the photos above) doesn’t have any initials at all. The one on the left has initials, but when you’ve seen enough real pesos, you can tell this one doesn’t look right. The letters are too thin and not enough light is passing through. The details overall are fuzzy.

Fake vs. Real Argentine Pesos

An example of a really terrible fake 100 Argentine peso note.

How about in this one above? It’s an awful fake, but do you notice anything besides the watermark that’s different?

The Solid Line

Before you hold a bill up to have the light show through it, you’ll see a vertical line of silver-like dashes. On the bad fakes, the dashes are clearly painted on. Notice how when you hold the bill up to the light, the dashed line turns to a solid black line and it has writing on it. It should have the denomination of the actual bill on it, but it’s tiny and a bit hard to read. Look back at the photos above. Notice how in each case, the real bill (i.e. the top one) has a vertical line and each of the fakes on the bottom remain dashed lines.

Real vs. Fake Argentine Pesos

Look closely at the strip. You should see the 100 denomination.

The Paper

The last way and probably most common first step in identifying a fake is to feel the paper. But if you’ve never felt pesos, you aren’t sure what the paper should feel like. I can typically tell when I’m holding a fake just by the way the paper feels. It feels like printer paper.

Rub your finger over the denomination (i.e. the 100, 50, etc.) in the bottom right corner. It shouldn’t be smooth. There is a slight roughness where the numbers are raised.

The Serial Numbers

And while this will only be a clue if you’re being given a few fakes together that were made by the same person, the serial numbers should all be different. The couple that was given 200 fake pesos at the airport got these two fifty notes. Both notes had the exact same serial numbers. The horizontal numbers at the top right and the vertical numbers on the left side should be the same.

Fake 50 peso note

Though this is a fake, the serial numbers at the top and on the side match. But if you are given two notes that end in 48C, there’s a problem.

How to Avoid Being Given Fake Pesos

When you exchange money, check each note. Hold it up to the light right there in front of the cashier. Don’t worry that you’re taking too long even if there is a long line. Hold up each note and check it. If you detect a fake, hand it back.  Do the same when you’re given 100s or 50s anywhere. People will not be offended. Checking bills is totally normal here.

You won’t likely get fake money from an ATM, but if you do for some reason, you’ll need to go into the bank and see if they’ll change it. I’ve been here four years and I use ATMs all the time. I’ve never gotten fake money from one though I have heard that others have.

Quick update. Deanna commented below that she got fake bills from an ATM on Calle Florida.


And to keep a taxi driver from giving you a fake bill, you should do your best to pay with small notes and as close to the amount as possible. But when you have no choice but to pay with a 100 or 50 peso note, before you hand it to the driver, hold it up to the light so he can see you checking the watermark and strip. Then, remember the serial number (the last two digits and the letter) and tell him you’re handing him the note that ends in that number. He won’t be able to switch it out because the numbers will not match.

Take the Quiz: Fake or Real?

Do you guys have any other tips I missed? 


66 Comments To This Article… add one

  • david

    April 6, 2014, 7:17 pm Reply

    Angela, thank you so much for this article! Extremely helpful as I have never been to a place where counterfeit currency seems so prevalent. I’ll be in BA in two weeks time staying in Palermo or Ricoleta, would you mind sending me some addresses of cuevas that I can get the blue rate securely? Doesn’t have to be in those two areas but just not off the beaten path. thanks so much!

  • Remy

    March 28, 2014, 8:25 pm Reply

    This is the most useful info I have found anywhere on the web about distinguishing real vs fake currency.

    I would also love the addresses of any reliable exchange locations. I will be staying in BA for two weeks. Thanks so much!!

  • Leon

    March 19, 2014, 9:14 am Reply

    Hi Angela thanks for the tips. I’d love to get the address where you exchanged the money in BA. Thanks!

  • idouri

    March 15, 2014, 7:37 pm Reply

    angela, can you send the corrientes cambio address . i am coming from paraguay to fish that area and will not stop in BA.

  • sergi

    March 3, 2014, 8:29 am Reply

    Wow!! Nice tips.
    We’ve justo arrived to bs aires, near recoleta. Could you send a good and reliable place to exchange money?

  • Nata

    February 25, 2014, 11:32 pm Reply

    Thanks for the tips!
    Can you send me a place to exchange USD thats safe and good exchange rate?

  • Sergey Vaynshteyn

    February 24, 2014, 7:04 pm Reply

    Hi Angela!

    I will be visiting BA for the next few days so this is probably way too short of a notice, but if you could possibly provide the address of an exchange place, I would be very grateful!


  • Yuval

    February 17, 2014, 4:06 pm Reply

    Hello Angela,

    Thanks for the tips, can you also send me the address of the place to change?


  • Daniel Schuler

    February 12, 2014, 6:43 pm Reply

    Hey Angela

    really great blog. Can you send me the address of the place on Corrientes where you exchange money. It is also ok to exchange 50 or 20 USD bills? They look brandnew though!
    All the best


    • Angela

      February 13, 2014, 6:38 pm Reply

      Hi Daniel,

      I just sent you the address via email. You can exchange 50s and 20s, but they will give a lower rate for those than if you were to exchange 100s. Hope you have a great time!!


  • KS

    February 3, 2014, 9:39 am Reply

    Hi Angela,

    Thanks a lot for the information, I am flying to BA (and then spending time in Patagonia and Iguazu) and hence wanted to load up on Pesos in BA so that I don’t have a problem with bad rates down south. Whilst I was searching for $ Blue I came across your wonderful tips. Could you please direct me to a Cambio where I can safely exchange money. Thanks a lot.

  • Meagan

    January 25, 2014, 3:33 pm Reply


    I’ve just arrived in BsAs and was hoping you could also email me this exchange place referred to in the comments. I’ve had a hard time finding a reputable place with a good rate and the ATM’s charge quite a bit for a low limit!


  • Matt

    January 18, 2014, 11:04 am Reply

    I left an earlier comment but I don’t think it posted. It’s my first time in BA and I am a little worried about exchanging money. If you could email me the address of the place on Corrientes I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

  • Casey

    January 15, 2014, 3:16 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for this information. I had heard quite a bit about counterfeit bills but was unsure how to spot them. My wife and I will be visiting at the end of February and would very much like information regarding the money changer you recommend on Corrientes. Is there anyone you could recommend in the Palermo Soho area?

    • Angela

      January 17, 2014, 9:15 pm Reply

      Hi Casey, I’ve just sent you an email. I don’t know of any place in Palermo Soho. There are plenty of official exchange places up that area, but they won’t give you the blue dollar rate.

      Have fun!

  • Laila

    January 9, 2014, 3:09 pm Reply

    Hello,I am going to Argentina tomorrow and I found your information very useful. I would also like the address of the best place to exchange currency

  • Farro

    January 5, 2014, 4:26 am Reply

    I’m going to Buenos Aires tomorrow and would love the address on Corrientes if that’s possible… I’m a bit skeeved by changing on the street–it’s my first ever big solo trip.

  • Jane

    December 30, 2013, 5:36 pm Reply

    I’d love an address in BsAs as well. Thanks so much for these tips!

    • Angela

      December 30, 2013, 9:01 pm Reply

      You’re welcome, Jane. Address is coming via email. Have a great time!

  • Karen

    December 6, 2013, 7:36 pm Reply

    Hi Angela. We’ll be in BsAs in a week, and I’d love to get the address on Corrientes. Would you send it to me? BTW this is great advice. I’ve saved this page for offline viewing, so i can look at it just before exchanging money the first time. Thanks!

  • Paul

    December 5, 2013, 11:48 pm Reply

    Please give the address for corrientes in buenos aires
    I will going there in 2 weeks

  • bennie

    December 3, 2013, 11:06 pm Reply

    this site helps! know a trustable changer in salta?

    greetz ben

    • Angela

      December 3, 2013, 11:31 pm Reply

      Sorry, Bennie. I don’t know where to send you in Salta, but I can say that fake bills are less common outside of Buenos Aires. If you know what to look for, that’s a good start. Hope you have a great time!

      • Tom

        December 13, 2013, 12:43 am Reply

        Main Square diagonal from the Salta hotel On the corner near the Maam Museum.

  • luciano

    November 17, 2013, 3:10 pm Reply

    if u need assistance im in cordoba , i can help u if u need some guide ,- money buses trains . places to visit in cordoba argentina , hotels , everithing u need . – responsable manners . ill can be very helpfull , thanks for visit argentina!

  • Joe

    October 30, 2013, 12:01 am Reply

    Love the website.

    Can you send me the address to change money on Corrientes? Thanks!

  • Alexander Stapel

    October 13, 2013, 7:20 pm Reply

    Just arrived in Buenos Aires i am looking for a more or less safe place to change € to arg$. any ideas?

  • Luigi

    October 12, 2013, 7:59 am Reply

    Can you tell me were i can chage money with security in B A

  • David P.

    September 25, 2013, 11:10 am Reply

    Any sense of the money changing situation in Uruguay? I was thinking of buying pesos in Colonia or Montevideo before we ferry over to BA.

    • Angela

      September 25, 2013, 2:26 pm Reply

      Not really. I want to say that you can purchase dollars there, but I’m not 100% sure. One thing I know is that you can typically use either dollars or Uruguayan pesos in restaurants and pretty much everywhere. They used to also accept Argentine pesos, but I think they are giving a bad exchange for ARS now, so I definitely wouldn’t try to buy anything with ARS. I bet they would sell them at a good rate, but still not as good as you can get in Buenos Aires on the blue market.

      Hope this helps some….

      • Karen

        December 10, 2013, 3:05 pm Reply

        Hi Angela and all, I live in Uruguay and run a small guesthouse here so I get asked this question a lot. :)

        You can withdraw both Uruguayan pesos and US dollars (yes, USD!) from any ATM. Beware that in Colonia, people have found ATMs empty.

        Getting hold of different currencies is very easy in Uruguay. You don’t even need to show ID when you exchange money and you are not charged commission.

        The exchange rate for Argentine pesos will not be as good as you can get with a good blue rate exchanger in Argentina, but it’s not bad and it’s legal. Last I heard a few weeks back was that you could get 9 AR pesos to the USD.

        Whatever you do don’t change at the airport in Uruguay. It gives notoriously bad rates.

        • Angela

          December 10, 2013, 6:21 pm Reply

          Hi Karen…. thanks so much for that information and the tips. It’s great to know.

          Your guesthouse is GORGEOUS! I’ve always had trouble suggesting a great place to stay in Montevideo. Now I know where to send our guests.


  • Sean S

    April 2, 2013, 1:05 pm Reply

    Very Helpful Info! I’m here now, lets go change some money :)

    • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

      April 2, 2013, 1:40 pm Reply

      Suerte, Sean. I think you’re prepared if it should happen that they try to slip in a fake.

  • Chanel @ LaViajeraMorena

    March 9, 2013, 1:06 pm Reply

    This information is EXTREMELY helpful and useful. I will be sharing this post with my readers in an upcoming post about how not to get ripped off while traveling.

    Thank you!

    • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

      March 9, 2013, 1:47 pm Reply

      So glad you find it useful. I hate to see travelers getting ripped off. Hope we can all put out the info needed to help stop the scams. Cheers!

  • Ciarán

    March 4, 2013, 9:13 am Reply

    I`m travelling to Buenos Aires next week and was wondering where you sell your dollars and is there any problems selling 50 or 100 dollar bills?. What rate do you get? Is it anything near the “dollar blue” rate of the day?
    Thank you,
    great site.


    • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

      March 4, 2013, 11:29 am Reply

      Hello Ciarán,

      So glad to hear that you are finding the site useful. My advice is to bring in crisp, clean, new 100 dollar bills. You’ll get a better rate for 100s than 20s. I’m not too sure about 50s, but either way, you do want to make sure the bills don’t have any writing on them and that they are as new as possible. Two weeks ago we got 7.5 pesos to the dollar. We go to a place on Corrientes near Florida Street. I’ll send you the address via email.

      Have a great time here!

      • Katie

        May 21, 2013, 4:43 pm Reply


        We are headed down to Buenos Aires tomorrow. Can you email the place on Corrientes? Thank you so much for the advice to bring 100s – easier for us to carry, but wasn’t sure if they would be accepted.


        • Angela

          May 21, 2013, 10:50 pm Reply

          Just sent you a message. Suerte!

          • Jacques

            June 30, 2013, 9:19 pm


            I am headed out to BA shortly. Could you email me the Corrientes place?


          • GUY

            August 18, 2013, 6:24 am

            I’ve just read these posts. Terrible! About to go to Argentina in October, i wonder whether you have any safe address to change currencies. Are Euro notes equally welcome by the locals? All this seems dizzying. Any useful info greatly welcome. Many many thanks.

          • Angela

            August 19, 2013, 4:05 pm

            Hi Guy…. I’m glad you found this information useful. I’ll send you an address via email where we go to exchange USD. I haven’t found that Euros are as widely accepted as dollars are. More shortly… Angela

          • Michael

            October 17, 2013, 8:36 pm

            We are heading for BA next week. Can you send me the address of the reputable place which exchanges U.S. dollars? Thanks.

      • Tom

        October 2, 2013, 10:00 pm Reply

        Hi Angela,

        Can you send me the address of the place on Corrientes where you exchange money.

        Thanks for the advice. Very useful.

        Kind regards,


  • sam

    December 29, 2012, 12:35 pm Reply

    Just traveled to BA for a week. Thank you STL for posting this. After reading the comments, I decided to only exchange US dollars (usually at $6 pesos/$1US) at neighborhood convenience stores or pay at restaurants with US dollars and get pesos for change. I also used my visa debit card for everything. I got a prepaid visa debit for my South American travel and have found it to be the most convenient because it was the only card I carried everywhere. I had small USD bills ($1, 5, 10s, 20s) for when I was short on pesos. Many people in Argentina were only too happy to take them and the lowest exchange I got was $5.20 pesos to the dollar which is still higher than the $4.75 pesos that a bank ATM would give.

    If you can, take the time to prepare in advance.

    • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

      December 29, 2012, 12:44 pm Reply

      Hi Sam. Thank you so much for these tips. They’re great. We’ve been exchanging dollars downtown when we have the time. The last time we went we got 6.4 to the dollar for 100-dollar-bills and 6.2 for 20s. One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll want to bring with you the cleanest, crispest bills you can find. They didn’t accept one of the 100s because it had writing on it. I agree that with a bit of planning, you can really take advantage of the lack of dollars here. We have even seen restaurants whose menu begins with a page stating they will accept dollars at 6 to 1.

      Hope you had a great time!

  • sarah olierook

    December 18, 2012, 5:03 pm Reply

    On 16 Dec 2012 I received 1 fake 100 peso note (out of 25 notes) on Calle Florida 199, Citi Bank. Going to see tomorrow if there is anything to be done..just for the principle.

    • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

      December 19, 2012, 8:53 am Reply

      Aw man, that’s terrible, Sarah. I have to admit, I’ve seen a lot more fake bills this year than the past years. I think the economic situation here is making people a bit more likely to cheat if they can. My best advice for people coming on vacation here would be to come with USD and exchange them at a reputable spot downtown for the blue market rate. Or send yourself the cash through Xoom and get the blue market rate when you pick up your pesos. Sounds like ATMs and taxi drivers are more and more likely to deliver fakes. Thanks for leaving your experience!

  • Peter patmore

    September 11, 2012, 10:28 am Reply

    We got caught also. 6 fake 100 peso notes from an atm. It is still a problem.

    • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

      September 11, 2012, 11:05 am Reply

      How frustrating, Peter. Do you recall which bank and where you were? I’ve only heard of this happening downtown near the microcenter and in Banco Patagonia. It would be good to know if there are certain places we should tell people not to extract money.

      Thanks for commenting. THe more people know about this problem, the harder it will be for people to pawn off the fakes.


  • Sheila

    October 2, 2011, 4:14 am Reply

    Thank you so much for these tips! They will definitely come in handy when we visit Argentina early next year.

    • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

      October 3, 2011, 7:08 pm Reply

      Glad you saw this blog before coming. You’ll know what to look for. Have a great trip, Sheila!

  • Deanna

    July 24, 2011, 12:43 am Reply

    Thank goodness we took a receipt. It was Banco Patagonia, 999 Florida. We cannot be entirely sure that all our fake bills came from there, but given the fact that on Friday we drew out $1,000 pesos, received 10 $100 bills, and by Sat morning had discovered that 6 of them were fake… Well, seems pretty good odds that our fake bills came from the ATM.

    • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

      July 24, 2011, 10:53 am Reply

      Well, if you do try to get it resolved (whether with your bank back home or Banco Patagonia), we’d love to know how it turns out. I tend to use Banco Galicia ATMs and haven’t had the problem. Once, I got some torn 100s from an Itau ATM. If the serial numbers are torn people won’t accept the bill. I went back in and had to wait in the long line to get them changed. It was quite a struggle. I, too, had the receipt and the only bills I had were those from the ATM so they couldn’t say I was trying to pull a scam. Since Banco Frances is the only bank that will actually exchange dollars for people without an account, they might be a more legit bank. Argentine banks have a terrible reputation for customer service. That may need to be an upcoming post. Best of luck, Deanna!

    • Lawrence

      December 23, 2012, 11:05 am Reply

      That is the EXACT bank where I received one fake $100 peso bill from the ATM when I withdrew $500. I went in and spoke to the manager and he would do nothing for me. I consider myself lucky it was only a $20 loss.

      • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

        December 24, 2012, 12:08 am Reply

        Wow. Sounds like someone working at the bank is doing this then. Thank you for letting us know. Wish I had a solution that was 100%.

  • Deanna

    July 23, 2011, 4:33 pm Reply

    Thank you for posting this article. We are in BA this week on vacation and yesterday we found that we had received six fake $100 peso bills from an ATM at the end of Calle Florida, near Avenida Santa Fe. We had no idea that the fraud with currency here was so bad! There doesn’t seem to be anything we can do at this point — we’ve lost $150 USD. But now we know what to look for, going forward.

    • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

      July 23, 2011, 8:45 pm Reply

      Wow. From an ATM. I’d heard that it’s happened to others, but no one I know personally. What a bummer. Do you know/remember if the ATM was associated with a bank? I don’t know if that matters, but it might be good to get a poll of which banks are “safest”. Thanks for posting and hope you enjoy the rest of your trip here.

    • Kethan

      August 12, 2011, 7:12 am Reply

      And I was just wonedirng about that too!

  • Beatrice M

    July 22, 2011, 7:14 pm Reply

    Great info! Just a note about the serial numbers on the 100 peso bills. Because Argentina gave Brazil the go ahead to print money for them, the Brazilian printed pesos have different serial numbers. They are still valid currency, but the serial numbers are horizontal and also the font doesn’t increase in size. See this PDF the Central Bank of Argentina put out.

    • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

      July 23, 2011, 8:43 pm Reply

      Thanks, Beatrice. It can be confusing with the two versions out there that are valid. I’d forgotten about these differences. Cheers!

      • Jason

        October 23, 2013, 7:45 pm Reply


        Can you also send me the address to money changer on Corrientes?
        We are coming in dec. I think on the facebook page, the current blue dollar is 1 to 10ish?


        • Angela

          October 24, 2013, 12:12 am Reply

          Awesome! That’s a great rate. I’ll send you a message now. Thanks for stopping by the blog.

          • Jasper

            November 20, 2013, 1:40 pm

            Hi Angela, could you provide us with the address as well? We’re leaving in two days :).

      • Anonymous

        December 6, 2013, 10:30 pm Reply

        there no are diferences only in the number but is not important only must to check in the security tips
        1-continuous line must say BCRA 100 the
        2-water print of quality and initials JAR.
        3- te paper if u touch a fake one is easy to see the bad quality of printing an paper . also u can to scratch under the face in the shoulder of the suit and note if is a rough surface that is the most efficient and easy test because if is soft and no a rough surface is fake . try scratch with your fingernail a legal one and u will note this

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