Payment Methods in Brazil
Nowadays you can pay with credit cards almost everywhere in Brazil. This is actually the most comfortable option and it is also possible in small shops or beach bars. While American Express is widely accepted in bigger cities, MasterCard and VISA are more common all over the country.
For withdrawing money, most people just use ATMs. Banks such as Banco do Brasil, Bradesco, Itau or Santander generally accept international credit cards and debit cards to obtain cash in Brazilian reals (R$). In the entrance area of the banks there are usually several ATMs. Please note which ATM is marked with the corresponding credit card logos. Withdrawals are usually limited to R$800 or R$1,000 per day.
You can exchange currency in Brazil in small exchange offices as well as at some banks. U.S. dollars, traveler's checks and euros are usually accepted there. Normal banking hours in Brazil are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Recently, it occurred that some banks have partially or completely excluded the use of foreign credit cards or debit cards, making cash withdrawals from ATMs impossible or severely restricted. Travelers have reported that they were unable to withdraw money, or, at best, only small amounts. Therefore, travelers are advised to not rely exclusively on obtaining money through ATM withdrawals. Alternative methods (traveler's checks, currency exchange, etc.) should be considered as well.
If cash withdrawals at ATMs fail, it is essential to keep the bank receipt issued. Special caution is advised for withdrawals from cash machines. Particular attention should be paid to devices with which the cards could be copied or the three-digit security code could be recorded.
Attention: Especially in large cities and airports, credit-card fraud and ATM scams are common. This means that a mechanism has been inserted into the ATM’s card reader to copy data. Cash withdrawals or other payments can then be made with this copied data. We therefore recommend that cash be withdrawn only at banks under video surveillance.
In smaller places, such as Imbassai, Jericoacoara, Lencois (Chapada Diamantina), Boipeba, Ilha Grande and Fernando de Noronha, cash machines do not work reliably. In these places it is possible to pay almost everywhere with credit card. At the same time, the credit card machines themselves might not always have a strong connection, rendering them useless. To that end, travelers should do their best to make an estimate of how much cash they will need and withdraw the proper amount beforehand.