The Central Bank prohibited credit cards from selling tickets, hotels or any other tourist service abroad in installments as of tomorrow, according to a determination made today by the entity’s board of directors. For this reason, All services contracted abroad that are paid by credit card must be paid in a single payment or financed with the 43% rate set for the “minimum payment” of the summaries.
The resolution prohibits the application of fees for the payment of tourist services both to card issuers directly and through digital platforms or travel agencies, as established by communication A7407 of the entity.
“Establish, effective as of 11.26.21, that financial and non-financial entities issuing credit cards They must not finance in installments the purchases made by credit cards of their clients – human and legal persons – of tickets abroad and other tourist services abroad (such as accommodation, car rental, etc.). either carried out directly with the service provider or indirectly, through a travel and / or tourism agency, web platforms or other intermediaries “, indicated the rule of the Central known today.
Even within the wide sample of exchange restrictions that Argentina has registered in the last 20 years, prohibiting the sale of a ticket abroad in installments represents an extreme measure of which there was no precedent and that reflects the fears of the Central Bank regarding its Bookings
The timing of the measure is not accidental. Tomorrow the “Black Friday”, the traditional day of discounts of all kinds in the United States that, as usual, has an Argentine version that includes tourist packages. For this reason, many travel wholesalers and digital platforms offering tickets and hotels had launched multiple offers, including many of up to 12 interest-free installments. The opening of borders around the world anticipated a strong day of sales of tickets abroad, as noted by Infobae. The Central Bank went out to prevent these sales and did so in the strictest way.
“The acquisition of plane tickets to abroad can be financed with a credit card at a rate of 43%, according to a provision of the BCRA,” they said from the Central. This rate is the maximum allowed by the Central Bank for the minimum payment of unpaid credit card balances up to $ 200,000 per card. That amount, taking the quotation of the “solidarity dollar” (the retail exchange rate with the 65% tax burden), is equivalent to USD 1,140, a moderate figure for hiring a trip abroad.. The amount of $ 200,000 was disposed of in January of this year, it was not updated and since then an inflation of 41.8% has accumulated.
If the balance to be financed in the summary is greater than $ 200,000, there is no cap on the interest rate that the card can charge, so financing will be very expensive. In this way, tourist services abroad will have this particular inhibition so as not to be sold in installments and the only means of financing they will have will be that provided by the credit card itself, something that consumers tend to avoid.
A source from the Central Bank suggested that “banks will surely offer financing lines for these tickets, such as personal credit “. The cost of this financing, in certain banks, can be even higher. “People who travel for tourism in this international context of a pandemic are assumed to have the ability to save or access financing lines”Added the source.
Many travel wholesalers and digital platforms offering tickets and hotels had launched multiple installment deals for tomorrow’s Black Friday. The Central Bank went out to prevent these sales and did so in the strictest manner
At the same time, the BCRA clarified that “plane tickets to the national territory can be financed with a credit card within the Now 12 programs promoted by the national government.”
The measure hits travel companies and airlines squarely, precisely at the moment when, beyond Black Friday that takes place tomorrow, summer season trips begin to be planned and sanitary restrictions are lifted to move from one country to another. From that sector they could even question the legality of the decision. “The ban on the purchase of tickets to travel abroad and other travel expenses implies an unreasonable and disproportionate restriction on the right to leave the country and on freedom of transit. It is an unconstitutional and unconventional limitation “, said the constitutionalist on his Twitter account Daniel Sabsay.
Reserves at risk
The reasons that led the BCRA to take this measure are more than evident: the need to discourage dollars from leaving the country and thus continue to weaken its reserves, given the uncertainty generated by the delayed agreement with the IMF. Even within the wide sample of exchange restrictions that Argentina has registered in the last 20 years, prohibiting the sale of a ticket abroad in installments represents an extreme measure of which there was no precedent and that reflects the fears of the Central Bank regarding its Bookings.
Having an exchange gap of more than 100% between the official dollar and the free dollar or “blue” has its most negative side in tourism. Of all the economic activities it is the least convenient in terms of exchange balance. And both ways. When Argentines travel abroad and use their credit card, they pay a “subsidized” dollar, at the official price plus taxes, which can even be partially recovered.
Conversely, when foreigners come to Argentina, they do not always enter their dollars through the formal circuit: knowing that you will get $ 200 pesos for every dollar if you change it at a store or at your hotel, why would you waste the opportunity by paying with your card and receiving only $ 100?
This unfavorable equation that combines the exchange rate gap with tourism also serves to understand the invaluable help that the sanitary restrictions gave the BCRA. Without trips abroad, the expenses in dollars with card reached a very low floor. According to the Exchange Balance for September, the last published, those expenses in foreign currency were only USD 149 million. The opening of the borders and the least fear of contagion was surely going to generate a strong increase in that amount that the Central Bank seeks to discourage.