Anyone living in Buenos Aires will know that since Uber’s arrival in April, the ride-sharing app has been the target of controversy in the City and its suburbs. Yet those who still want to use the service often face a difficult time. Why? Thanks to a judicial order, local credit cards have been blocked from the service.

Yet fear not, that doesn’t mean you can’t use the popular ride-sharing app, just that it’ll take a few more steps. Argentines have found plenty of ways to circumvent these obstacles and Uber itself has multiple payment options that are not as well known but can also serve as a workaround.

“Uber operates globally with all international credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express). Although we are having some inconveniences with local credit cards, we always recommend that users try their preferred card initially,” sources close to Uber told The Bubble.

Note: people who have international credit cards issued by banks outside Argentina will probably not face any problems and thus don’t need any of the following tips.

Pre-paid Cards

Photo via Entropay (Screenshot)
Photo via Entropay (Screenshot)

“In cases where credit cards do not allow the payment to go through, we suggest using different pre-paid cards such as Entropay, Satoshi Tango, Xapo and EcoPay,” the Uber sources said.

Uber’s main recommendation for paying for rides in Buenos Aires is to use pre-paid cards, which can be done on Entropay. Bonus: you’ll get a 25 percent discount on Uber rides using the service until December 31. Here are the steps:

  • Register at Entropay (www.entropay.com): create a profile and select US$ as currency.
  • To top up the card, click “Top-Up” (fairly self-explanatory) and pick “Credit Card” as form of payment.
  • Put in your credit card information and the amount you want to transfer onto the pre-paid card (minimum US$5).
  • Once you’ve paid that, your pre-paid card will show up on your screen.
  • Then you activate Uber in Entropay by going to Menu and then clicking “Payments” and putting in the pre-paid card information.
  • It will then take 24 hours to activate the card.

That’s about it. A bit of a pain but after the initial set up should be pretty straight forward. There has been some talk online about using Rapipago in order to pay Uber via another pre-paid card by Netteller, but that option is no longer available.

Xapo

Photo via Xapo
Photo via Xapo

Uber partnered up with Xapo — a startup that offers pre-paid cards with the digital currency bitcoin — to bypass the blocks on local credit cards.

“We do not accept bitcoin as a form of payment [but] options like Xapo’s pre-paid cards accept bitcoin as one of their methods of payment,” said Uber.

Uber charges its rides in Argentina in US dollars, so it may may seem counter-intuitive to use Xapo, but it can convert bitcoin into dollars in order to pay for services. In addition, Xapo cards are issued outside of Argentina and thus do not fall under the local court-ordered restrictions.

“It’s not a formal partnership, this is more on a quick agile basis. What this means for us is hopefully we are going to be able to gain a better foothold in Argentina,” Anni Rautio, who runs Xapo’s debit-card program, said in an interview with Bloomberg in July.

Go On Holiday

Photo via My Credit Monitor
Photo via My Credit Monitor

As you might imagine, that’s not actually official advice from Uber. However, many Argentine users have notified their banks that they are on holiday abroad and thus managed to unblock the restrictions shackling their credit cards.

In order to take advantage of this though, you obviously have to make sure your credit card is authorized to operate internationally. But if that’s the case, informing your credit card issuer (either by phone or online) about an imminent trip abroad is pretty straightforward. That should at least technically allow the payments to go through — but it’s not a foolproof plan. Things may still not work, or they may work sporadically. Also, be warned that it’s not something that can go on for very long and may complicate things for you when you do actually go abroad.

Note: you can also specifically ask your bank for the Uber fare to be authorized, but that will only work if you are not in Argentina.

Cash

You can't withdraw coins though, don't be silly. Photo via dentonzhou.com
Photo via dentonzhou.com

True, one of the main selling points of Uber is that you don’t need cash to get a ride, but in other countries outside of Argentina there is the possibility of authorizing the option of paying for your Uber ride in cash. But in order to use it you’d need to visit a country that allows the cash option (Brazil, for example), open the app there and make sure that the option is activated. Then, on returning to Argentina, the option will still be available and available to use.

Some users have used an Android app, “Fake GPS” to trick their phones into thinking they’re abroad and thus activating the cash option. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether that’s taking things a bit too far.