October 18th, 2018
The main Brazilian banks are Banco do Brazil, Bradesco, ITAU & Caixa Economica Federal. You will easily find the main International Banks: HSBC, Citibank, Santander. In addition to their own proprietary ATM networks, Brazilian bank cards are usually accepted at the nationwide chain of Banco24Horas machines. Important information: If you use your Brazilian Credit card to pay international purchases you will be charged a 6.38% tax (info valid in Sept 2014) (search words: IOF cartão de credito)
Bank Accounts & Debit / Credit Cards
Opening a bank account requires you to have a Official ID, your Brazilian CPF and proof of address.
Until you have a local account, you can use Travellers’ Checks. In some cases, you can cash checks from your home bank using an American Express (or, less commonly, a Diners’ Club) card as a guarantee. Most travel agencies and hotels will change money for you.
You can obtain cash advances against an international Visa or MasterCard if you have a PIN. Automatic teller machines at HSBC, Banco do Brasíl, Bradesco and Unibanco will accept your card.
Checks are widely accepted but Credit Card and Debit cards are gaining preference. Some banks have service charges based upon the number of checks you write: many banks print the limit for which the bank will guarantee payment on the face of the check. Debit cards are widely accepted though cash machines limit the amount you can withdraw in one day and at any one time as a security measure, usually R$600 – R$1,000. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Establishing overdraft facilities in advance is important as a check returned for insufficient funds can include the entry of your name into central databases (SERASA) to which all banks (and many retail outlets) have access. Removing your name from the blacklist can take up to a year and is, of course, a complicated process. A second returned check may lead to a closure of your accounts and cancellation of your credit card.
For your information armed guards are a Federal requirement and many banks have adopted revolving doors equipped with metal detectors.
If you are American, there are American credit cards without the International Exchange Fee. Chapter One Bank offers such cards as does CitiBank.
While much of the bureaucracy associated with Brazilian exchange control has been removed, inward remittances are still monitored by the Central Bank and you will have to sign a number of documents acknowledging receipt of funds transferred from overseas. It is advisable to let your bank in Brazil know that you have arranged a transfer from overseas.