Since January 2nd 2017 international travelers visiting Argentina will receive a direct VAT Refund for their hotel and lodging expenses providing the payment is rendered by credit card or wire transfer.
The requirement of paying electronically is a serious drawback to this new scheme as you can’t take advantage of any leftover cash you might have and especially the Dolar Blue.
Argentina has a very high VAT and of course it shaves off a good amount of money, especially because this system is designed the way that it will be taken off right there and then without having to deal with anything later at the airport.
The Buenos Aires Tourism Authority has a little article about this on their website (see here).
As of January 2017, international tourists will receive a direct and automatic reimbursement of the 21% value added tax (VAT) charged on accommodation in Argentina.
VAT on hotel stays and other accommodation will automatically be refunded for international visitors who pay with a foreign credit card or via bank transfer from a foreign bank.
The ellimination of VAT on accommodation charges, combined with a favorable exchange rate, make visiting Buenos Aires more affordable.
The new VAT rule covers hotel stays and other forms of accommodations, and includes VAT imposed on breakfast services if they are part of the cost of lodging. Other hotel services are excluded and must be billed separately.
The rebate system is available to visitors who can prove with a valid passport or identification card that they live abroad, and who pay for the services rendered with a non-Argentine credit card or via bank transfer from another country. The process is completed at the time of billing, with no need for any extra paperwork after the visit.
Nice that it actually includes the breakfast expenses as well even though I must admit unless it’s included in the rate or I receive it as status benefit I almost never have breakfast at a hotel as I consider it overpriced for what it is. It’s usually a way to gauge business travelers on expense accounts because let’s be honest, what can you provide or even consume during a $45-$50 breakfast?
Now this whole method of payment issue is of course to avoid tourists exchanging their overseas currency on the black market and then paying their hotels cash. The so called Dolar Blue is something John (who is a frequent visitor to Buenos Aires) has written about extensively in the past such as in this article.
That being said if you were able to save roughly 40% previously by using the Dolar Blue and now you could have a 20% savings by having the VAT deducted that might be sufficient for some to say they don’t want to deal with cash exchange and associated risks (even though John reportedly never had an issue).
Depending on what hotel you’re staying at and what your rates are a 20% difference can still make quite a difference so I’d probably rather do the cash exchange. People such as my parents on the other hand likely prefer to just pay by credit card rather than dealing with the “Cambio, Cambio” exchange hustlers on the Caller Florida to get Euro exchanged at favorable rates.
In any case it’s a good campaign to attract additional tourism and try to get foreign currency into the country as Argentina’s economy continues to suffer. It’s still one of the most interesting countries in South America to visit in my opinion.