Cajero automatico en Colonia

The Colonia Dollar run nets dollars for 6.40 Argentine pesos compared to the blue rate of 8.43.

Six weeks ago we learned that sleepy Colonia del Sacramento posted the largest percentage increase in Argentine bank deposits of any city in Uruguay.

Now those same Argentine account holders are racking up the Buquebus frequent ferry miles and giving the shiny new ATMs in Colonia’s 27 banks the workout of a lifetime.

According to El Pais’ Pedro Ramon Clavijo, since discovering the “Colonia Dollar” last month, Argentines have crossed the river to Uruguay and withdrawn over US$10 million from Colonia ATMs. Locals say the average cajero automatico in Colonia needs to be restocked with the cherished greenbacks at least twice a day as well as overnight.

“Before, we used to restock them every other day, but now we have to go every day and sometimes twice a day,” one Colonia banker tells Clavijo whose front page article shows a queue of presumably Argentine customers twelve deep on the sidewalk of a Banco Comercial branch in Colonia.

Clavijo breaks down how the Colonia dollar plan works for the uninitiated: “You travel from Buenos Aires with all of the ATM cards you can muster (including those of relatives and friends) and on arriving in Colonia, you go straight to the ATM and take out dollars. This operation called an ATM cash advance (cajero automatico adelanto en efectivo ) is capped at 20% (or less) of a customer’s credit limit per month, while other banks put a limit of US$1,500 per month.”

Some of the Argentines Clavijo interviewed in the queue were carrying as many as 10 and 12 ATM cards, and most were planning to return to Buenos Aires on the late Buquebus ferries which depart at 16:45, 19:01 and 20:30. (Full Story in Spanish)

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