CURRENCY & RATE:
The Brazilian monetary unit is the real (plural, reais). There are 100
centavos to the real (R$). Avoid using notes of high value, as they are
rarely used and therefore accepted with the highest suspicion.
Since 1986 the name of the currency has changed five times, from 'cruzeiro'
to 'cruzado' to 'cruzado novo' and back to 'cruzeiro'. Then it became
the 'cruzeiro real' and, in July 1994, the 'Real'. At the moment, the
monetary unit of Brazil is the Real (pronounced HE-ow); the plural is
Reais (pronounced HE-ice). It's made up of 100 centavos. The frustrating
similar coins are: one, five, 10, 25 and 50 centavos. There is also a
one-real coin as well as a one-real note. The notes are different colors,
so there is no possibility mistaking them. Next to the green one-real
note there's a blue/purple five, a red 10, a brown 50 and a blue 100.
At present the central bank is introducing differentiated coins and a
new 10-real note. The new bank note is launched because of problems with
falsification of bank notes.
* Until January 1999, the Real was as strong as the US dollar, (R$1.00
= U$1.00). By that time the worldwide financial crisis hit Brazil and
it was more than three times the exchange rate (R$3.30 = U$1.00). The
official exchange rate is published daily in the newspapers. For today's
rate, visit http://www.bloomberg.com/analysis/calculators/currency.html.
There are many banks in Brazil, among them the national banks the bigger
are preferable, banks like Banco Itaú, Banco Bradesco, Banco do
Brasil and Banco Real. Also some multinational banks are represented like
Citibank and HSBC. With bankcards and credit cards issued in other countries
than Brazil, it is possible to withdraw money in most banks.
It can be advisable to go to the exchange office or to the cash dispensers
at the International airports upon arrival. Notice that most cash dispensers
have the "Visa" and "MasterCard" symbols, but not
all of them make it possible to make transactions with foreign credit
The Brazilian currency 'Real' can not be changed outside of Brazil. When
leaving Brazil, change the local currency for dollar before you pass the
passport and airport security controls. The other side is an international
restricted area and there you cannot change 'Real', and all purchases
are in US dollar.
The US dollar is by far the most widely accepted foreign currency in
Brazil. It's always good to hide a small amount of dollars in case of
MODE OF PAYMENT:
Most major international credit cards are accepted in Brazil. Credit
card receipts from stores and restaurants will be priced in reais although
you will be billed in the currency of your own country, the official exchange
rate having been taken into consideration. Visa is the most spread card
in Brazil and secondly MasterCard, but exclusive restaurants, hotels,
and shops accept American Express and Diners Club too. Purchases with
credit cards give the most favorable exchange rate.
If you go traveling into the interior and smaller cities, it is recommendable
to take cash with you. Pay attention to shops' quotations, "partial
payment with credit card", this only works with domestic issued credit
Whenever you intend to use your credit card, ask before for its acceptance
to ensure your payment by means of your credit card. Some shops and restaurants
still uses the old system with carbon-paper, in this case always be careful
and destroy these carbon-papers after signing, to avoid any copy-falsification
of your credit-card. Always keep the number of your credit card on a separate
record in case of loss. Always keep the records of your card-number and
emergency telephones abroad at your destination in your luggage or on
a different place than your card.
NB: Traveler's checks may be safer than cash and credit cards, but it
can be hard to exchange them, especially outside of São Paulo and
Rio de Janeiro.
Get used to keep small change and a few banknotes in a shirt pocket
so that you can pay small expenses without extracting large amounts of
money which could quickly attract attention. This easily accessible money
is also useful to rapidly please a mugger. If you carry a wallet, keep
it in you front pocket, and don't use it on public transport or in crowded
places where is might attract unwelcome attention.