problem with foreign credit cards - again


Aug 23, 2018
Hi all,
I know this has been a topic of debate before but I'm having increased trouble with my German credit cards and was wondering if any of you can report similar problems. Particularly, my credit cards were refused
  • at Plan Ovalo, when trying to enter a savings plan to buy a new car (by Plan Ovalo, not the agency where I entered the plan)
  • at my health insurer (OSDE), which I have been paying for years with the same card (supposedly the card had expired, although it is still valid until 10/2018)
  • most recently at a local Carrefour supermarket, where I have been paying with that card for years also and only days after I had made a purchase there.
In previous years I have occasionally had problems with people not familiar with chip credit cards which require a PIN, and sometimes I had to use an Argentine card I also have but hardly use because of its high costs. But recently the problems with the German cards have increased. Oddly enough, I was able to use them to buy a new washing machine two weeks ago and have also made purchases off Mercadolibre last month, so it is really a gamble whether it will be accepted or not.
VISA Argentina sent me a not very helpful message that they had no means of verifying my identity and could therefore not check on any individual refusals. If my German bank said there was no problem with the card there may have been a technical problem with the card reader - which can't be the reason since at both Plan Ovalo and OSDE they don't run it through any reader, they just have the number and my authorization to debit the amount due.
Has anyone else had similar problems with foreign credit cards recently and maybe knows how to overcome them? It can hardly be in the interest of neither VISA as a company nor Argentina as a country for foreigners not to be able to spend their Dollars, Euros or whatever currency here in the country.

cheers, Helge
Yep, I can sympathize. I have three foreign cards I use here, all from the US: Capital One Visa credit card, Bank of America Visa debit card, and a California credit union MasterCard debit card. Each card has a chip and a traditional magnetic strip.

Sometimes one or more of these cards will be denied. Sometimes the merchant needs to try different machines at the same location (if they have access to them) to get one of the three cards to go through. Sometimes the card goes through on my end but not on the merchant's end (in which case I use another card and get charged twice for the same purchase - moreover, in these cases the merchant in Argentina does not recognize the double charge/ cannot locate the double charge/ will not reimburse me for the double charge, leading me to file a dispute directly with my bank in the US to have funds returned to me on the basis that services/goods paid for were not rendered). Neither do all of these cards work at all ATMs. I've found myself meandering around Bs As looking for an ATM that will accept one of my three cards so I can pull out cash to complete a purchase where my cards were not accepted.

In short, using foreign cards (in my experience) in Argentina is a pain. The best thing is to try to open an account with a local bank. To that end, I've had good experiences with Galcia. Viel Glück!
Thanks, Matthew, for your account and for confirming that it's not just me. As a resident I do have a local account and credit card as well, but since this account is hardly ever funded I try to avoid using the card. As I mentioned above I have tried bringing my issues up with Visa Argentina, but for them to properly identify me they're saying that I should sign up with their Visa Home service. Which is built in a fashion that makes it impossible for owners of Visa cards from banks other than Argentines to get through even the sign up form. And the phone hotline apparently does not let you sign up, just check your balance if you're already a member. ++sigh++

I wonder how many times it happens to tourists that they cannot pay for an item or service with their card and end up not purchasing. With the country so strapped for hard currency as it is now one should think they'd make every effort to make it as easy as possible for tourists and foreign residents to let their Dollars or Euros here...
I've been having issues with US Visa cards here too. Nowadays I try not to use them. They used to work ok during the during the 90s and 2000s, as far as I remember. I wonder if the chip is the issue now. My cards work well in any other country.
I use US credit cards for last 2 yrs without any problem anywhere in Argentina ( after ending of blue rate) . It depends on tha bank, kind of card, and quality/standard of card. My card gives me 99.99% same rate as and its v convenient.
Thanks Silvie for another confirmation of my experience. Thanks also Ceviche, would you care to inform which credit card company you're using? If you were using MasterCard or American Express that might be a hint at where the problem is...