Buenos Aires Good Story

The SUBE card makes your life 1000% better!


By | September 1, 2011 | 5 comments

The SUBE card saves the precious monedas and speeds along the boarding process for those savvy travelers.

Winner: Alan Blizzard

Kudos to: Argentine Government (and yes for once I’m serious)

Approximate Location: Capital Federal

The Skinny: Moving to Buenos Aires can be a little overwhelming at first especially if you are not already accustomed to using public transport (as I was not because of growing up in the suburbs of Tennessee). Especially since there are four main transportation options, taxis (radio taxis or remises), colectivos (bus), Subte (subway) or trains.

Now at first it seems taxis are a great choice because of their relatively cheapness to their American counter-parts, but the truth is that colectivos are just too cheap and convient to pass up… that is except for one small problem, monedas. Monedas are the coins in Argentina and for years was the only way to pay for your colectivo journey because of the coin slot machines that you use to pay your fair (and the fact that in order to maintain prompt service the driver can’t mess around with paper money).

So you need to get around the city and you start to hate wasting your precious smaller bills on taxis rides that could easily be avoided by finding the right colectivos. But then you have the problem of how the heck do I get monedas to “play the slot machine” in the colectivos??? Well now the government made a solid solution to this problem, The SUBE card.

The SUBE card system works with a small chip in the card that you merely tap against a card reader when you are boarding a colectivo, going through the turn styles at the Subte, or catching the train. Getting the SUBE card is easy and free! You can either go to any post office throughout the city and stand in a usually very short SUBE card line, or find any one of the many small kiosk tents set up at places like Calle Florida to sign up for your card on the spot on the street.

The charge the SUBE card though all you have to do is go to pretty much any kiosco, Pago Rapido, or any Subte station window and they will let you charge any amount. This card was just introduced a couple of months ago, but is being heavily pushed to the population by the government and is already available city wide (although not really available outside of the Capital Federal). There is another chip scanned card called the Monedero card which is operated by a private company, but the difference is that with the SUBE card you apply for it with your DNI, or in foreigners’ cases their Passport, and you can have the balance perserved in case of the card getting lost or stolen.

If you are going to be in the city for any length of time, GET A SUBE CARD. It’s great to just tell the driver your destination, tape your card on the scan pad (I tap mine without even taking it out of my wallet!) and quickly making your way to the back to snag that seat that the common moneda-using folk will miss out on. Nowadays I have plenty of monedas to use for other purposes and I never have to worry about running out and not being able to use public transport! Life is good!

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  1. Paul Strobl

    08/09/2011 - 3:39 pm

    But…I if I don’t play the moneda game every time I buy something, what will I occupy my mind with? The SUBE card will take that away from me…maybe Sudoku while I’m on the bus?

  2. Mexdorit

    15/09/2011 - 2:55 pm

    Thanks for the good info. We are coming to BA in November and I will be sure to get a SUBE card.

  3. Kalli

    15/09/2011 - 6:46 pm

    An Argentine friend chivalrously gave me his SUBE card. Will I have problems reloading it?

  4. Alan

    19/09/2011 - 2:32 am

    You shouldn’t have any problems reloading it. just give them the money and the card and they will put it on!

  5. Nancy P

    16/12/2011 - 7:15 pm

    Just wanted to comment that I´ve been buying 10 trip paper subte cards and I have always liked them. If I was to lose a full one the most I would be out is $11. However always having change for the bus does make me have to plan more so I decided to get a SUBE card. I was hoping there would be a separate line at the post office for just buying the SUBE card but no, you have to take a number and wait just like the rest and as usual it was more than an hour before they called my number so bring something to occupy yourself and don´t forget your passport because that´s what you have to show them.