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Tourist dollar for foreigners: refunds began with an exchange rate close to the MEP

Foreign tourists reported having received refunds for the best exchange rate after making purchases with cards issued outside the country
Foreign tourists reported having received refunds for the best exchange rate after making purchases with cards issued outside the country

After more than a month since its announcement, some foreign tourists and Argentines who spent with cards issued abroad by Mastercard They reported that they have already begun to receive returns for purchases made since December 2, which were initially debited at the official exchange rate. This is because, despite the fact that the measure came into effect at the beginning of last month, tourists who paid by card did not receive the benefit due to implementation difficulties.

Thus, some customers who made purchases with cards issued outside the country began to receive returns at a higher exchange rate than the official one, close to dollar value MEP (today close to $322), that is, at the stock market price, also known as the “bag dollar”.

Official MasterCard sources confirmed to this medium that they are already making the corresponding returns, “consumptions made from Friday, December 2, in the country with Mastercard Credit, Debit and Prepaid cards issued abroad, will be reached by the benefit established by the Central Bank. We are working so that this provisional solution remains in force and consumers see the impacts on their accounts later, in a reasonable period of time, “they detailed.

From the company they said that the returns in the accounts are made by the international banks themselves and that for this reason they depend on those entities.

For their part, Visa sources explained to this outlet that they They are already ready “weeks ago” to implement the refund scheme at a higher exchange rate but that “other actors involved are not involved and delay implementation.” In the chain that intervenes, not only the card brands have an influence, but also the payment processors of each of them and the issuing banks.

From American Express, henry seeberpresident and general manager of the company in Argentina stated that “we are working on the implementation, adaptation of systems and processes, which will take some time.”

At the moment, only MasterCard customers reported having received returns.  (Getty Images)
At the moment, only MasterCard customers reported having received returns. (Getty Images)

On November 5, the BCRA enabled the operation through which a higher dollar is awarded for tourists. Thus, the “tourist dollar for foreigners” exempted from the requirement of settlement in the exchange market the charges for consumption made by non-residents through cards issued abroad, whether for any type of tourist service in the country contracted by non-residents residents, such as non-resident passenger transport services to the country.

The objective of the Central Bank is capitalize a greater portion of the expenses of foreign tourists, so that those dollars do not end up in the parallel market. According to estimates by the economic team, in the last year it is estimated that there were some USD 2,500 million of expenses from incoming tourism, but that only USD 375 million ended up feeding the reserves of the monetary authority.

The Central Bank expects a monthly income of foreign exchange per dollar for receptive tourism of about USD 250 million.  (REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian)
The Central Bank expects a monthly income of foreign exchange per dollar for receptive tourism of about USD 250 million. (REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian)

From the Government it is estimated that thanks to this measure, receptive tourism could provide income of between USD 200 and USD 250 million monthly, once it is 100 percent implemented. As a reference, without the “dollar for tourists” that average was around USD 30 million per month.

This is not the first attempt made by the Government to try to formalize a greater amount of foreign currency from the expenses of foreign tourists. There are two recent precedents of measures in the same spirit, but they did not work (one was another attempt to establish a dollar for tourists and the creation of bi-currency accounts).

The advantage of the new scheme is that neither the foreign visitor, nor the trade, nor the local tour operators will have to do paperwork or go to a bank box to exchange their currencies for pesos.

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