Local Currency in Brazil
Currency in Brazil
Brazil's unit of currency is the Real (pronounced 'hay-AHL'), plural Reais ('hay-ICE'), abbreviated BRL, or just R$. One real is divided into 100 centavos. As an example of how prices are written, R$1,50 means one real and fifty centavos.
Foreign currency such as US Dollars or Euros can be exchanged major airports and luxury hotels (bad rates), exchange bureaus and major branches of Banco do Brasil (no other banks), where you need your passport and your immigration form.
Look for an ATM with your credit/debit card logo on it. Large branches of Banco do Brasil (charging R$ 6,50 per withdrawal) usually have one, and most all Bradesco, Citibank, BankBoston and HSBC machines will work. Banco 24 Horas is a network of ATMs which accept foreign cards (charging R$ 10 per withdrawal). Withdrawal limits are usually R$ 600 (Bradesco) or R$ 1000 (BB, HSBC, B24H), per transaction, and in any case R$ 1000 per day. The latter can be circumvented by several consecutive withdrawals, choosing different "accounts", i.e. "credit card", "checking", "savings". Note that most ATMs do not work or will only give you R$ 100 after 10 PM.
In smaller towns, it is possible that there is no ATM that accepts foreign cards. You should therefore always carry sufficient cash.
Wiring money to Brazil can be done through Western Union transfers to be picked up at a Banco do Brasil branch in most cities, and also quite a few exchange offices.
Travellers' checks can be hard to cash anywhere that does not offer currency exchange.
A majority of Brazilian shops now accepts major credit cards. However, quite a few online stores only accept cards issued in Brazil, even though they sport the international logo of such cards.
Coins are R$0.05, R$0.10, R$0.25, R$0.50 and R$1. Some denominations have several different designs. Images from the central bank of Brazil. And more. Bills come in the following denominations: R$1 (being phased out), R$2 , R$5 , R$10 (still a few plastic red and blue around), R$20 R$ 50 and $100. Images from the central bank of Brazil.
Starting in the first half of 2010 with the bills of 50 and 100 reais, all Brazilian bills will start circulating with a new design by 2012. You are likely to find both versions circulating together for the next few years.
The Real is a free-floating currency and has become stronger in the past few years. Especially for US citizens, prices (based on exchange rates) have increased quite a bit. As of January, 19, 2012, R$1 was worth about:
There are many federal regulations for dealings with foreign currency, trading in any currency other than Real in Brazil is considered illegal, although some places in big cities and bordering towns accept foreign money and many exchange offices operate in a shady area. In addition, exchange offices are almost impossible to find outside of big cities. Currency other than USD and EUR is hard to exchange and the rates are ridiculous. If you would like to exchange cash at a bank, be prepared to pay a hefty commission. E.g., Banco do Brasil collects US$15 for each transaction (regardless of amount).
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