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Subject: US currency exchange


Posted by scottm
On Thursday, August 29, 2002 at 16:34:50

Message:
i am traveling to brazil from usa soon and need some assistance in understanding the currency exchange process....any suggestions will be appreciated....

1) how does the exchange process work??? what is the accepted "fee" for conversion of US dollars to brazilian real???
2) is there a "best" place in Rio to do the currency exchange???? is there any "bad" place to exchange??? (obviously, i want to take full advantage of the best exchange rate, etc)
3) do US travelers checks convert as easily as US dollars??
4) is the use of credit cards for payment of brazilian goods a good idea??? it would appear to me that paying with a credit card may do away with the conversion "fee" since the credit card company will do the "exchange" automatically....is this correct??? is there any disadvantage to using a credit card for payment???

thank you all for any ideas/suggestions!!!!
RE: US currency exchange
Posted by a traveler
On Thursday, August 29, 2002 at 19:36:40

Message:
VISA credit cards can be used all over Brazil (but let your credit card company know in advance so they do not shut down your account when you start charging things so far away from home).

Regarding cash: You will get the best exchange rate through an ATM machine, and you will not have to pay a fee. If you have an ATM card, talk to your bank and find out if it will work in Brazil. For example if your ATM card is a "visa check card" you should have no problems with any ATM that accepts VISA (but let your bank know in advance so they do not shut down your account when they see charges so far away from home). These machines are everywhere all over Brazil. Also, be certain that you password is no more than 4 digits (some machines have problems with long passwords).
RE: US currency exchange
Posted by Don
On Thursday, August 29, 2002 at 19:38:41

Message:
ok... when I went to Brazil I was expecting to exchange my currency at a major bank there... but while I was laying over in JFK, I noticed a place there set up to exchange dollars into several different currencies on the spot. I have since learned that most MAJOR international airports have this feature. Also you can find several banks here that will exchange it (some have a waiting period of a few days). Usually the Service Charge is not enough to worry about.

About traveler's checks and credit cards I am unsure of. But keep in mind that not all places you might want to spend money at are going to accept credit cards. Either way... good luck to you.
RE: US currency exchange
Posted by braslvr
On Thursday, August 29, 2002 at 20:46:23

Message:
*a traveler* has it right. The best deal is to use ATMs in Brazil. Second best is to order Brazilian currency from your bank in the US before you go. The worst rate will be with the currency exchanges in airports, or in Brazil. (Casas de Cambio) Travelers checks are ancient history.
RE: US currency exchange
Posted by TexBrasil
On Friday, August 30, 2002 at 06:25:54

Message:
Yes, it is best to go with a Visa credit/debit card. Things may have changed, but it was Banco do Brasil that usually had one or two ATM machnes available for getting cash withdrawls. Other larger banks in Brasil just didn't have the ATM's in the VISA network for withdrawls??? Look for the VISA logo on these machines - they are the ones that are usually hooked into a different network for processing these type of transactions. Citibank had a nice setup with their ATM's, if you can find them.

You might also be able to exchnage money at most Travel Agencies(kinda black market). And yes, travelers checks are worthless.

Don't even THINK about coming back with a wad of extra money that you will simply exchange at a bank or U.S. airport kiosk. Your guaranteed to lose probably 20-30% of the real value due to the low exchange price they give AND service fees. Just plan accordingly...

Enjoy the Brasil!
RE: US currency exchange
Posted by egads
On Friday, August 30, 2002 at 07:02:52

Message:
I agree ATM's are the way to go. I also like to bring just enough reais with me from the US to cover the cab to the hotel once I land in Rio, so that I don't have to deal with that issue after flying all night, whilst dragging my luggage around, etc.

Last time I was there (2000), you could use your VISA card pretty much anywhere to get cash, at a rate just fractions higher than the official rate. And I am talking small fractions. Of course you have to know your PIN and you have to have an available balance, and you should definitely let your credit card co. know you'll be traveling to brazil. Mine started rejecting me at one point, but I cleared it up with a toll free call to the credit card co. They just wanted to make sure my spending was legit.

Unfortunately I didn't know the PIN for my credit cards - I never use them that way here, and my bank debit card was not a visa. But I discovered that if your bank card is on the CIRRUS system, you can go to Citibank to get cash, at a very good rate. If you're in Rio, there's one in Leblon, just a few blocks off the beach.

A good strategy seems to be to pay for everything you possibly can with your credit card, use the card at the ATM's for whatever cash you need, and don't bring much cash back - you will get screwed on the exchange at home.

Oh yeah, I would also bring an extra credit card or two to leave in the hotel safe, just in case you get robbed or lose your card somehow.
RE: US currency exchange
Posted by Jo
On Sunday, September 01, 2002 at 04:15:30

Message:
Well, those ATMS may work in Rio, but don't count on them everywhere. In Recife, a city of 2 million, I've only found one place so far where my U.S. credit cards work and sometimes the two machines that take international credit cards don't work. Recife is a city which prides itself on being a tourist attraction, but it sure is hard to make those ATMS work here. It's quite different than Europe. I was quite surprised at the difficulty after having spent five weeks in Lisbon where there were ATMs every half block. It's probably different in Rio and SP.

You're best bet is to take money in several forms. Even traveler's checks do work, at a slightly lower fee, at cambios (exchange banks), but you do have to have your passport with you to exchange them.
RE: US currency exchange
Posted by braslvr
On Sunday, September 01, 2002 at 12:07:12

Message:
When I first visited Recife and other smaller places 5 years ago, this was true, and it was a nightmare. Nowadays, if you have Visa Star or Cirrus, virtually all Banco do Brasil branches have ATMs that work. The few that do not, will do a cash advance inside the bank. Don't forget to have your passport with you.
RE: US currency exchange
Posted by Jo
On Monday, September 02, 2002 at 14:55:01

Message:
braslvr, I'm in Recife now, and I'm telling you half the time the machines that take international cards aren't taking them when you try to get cash.

ScottM, have several options if you're coming.
RE: US currency exchange
Posted by braslvr
On Monday, September 02, 2002 at 21:52:02

Message:
Jo, I'm not trying to argue. I was just there in April. No problem whatsoever using ATMs at Banco do Brasil in the large mall(forget the name), and 2 branches near praia Boa Viagem. Maybe just a temporary problem. In April, I also got cash from a Banco do Brasil ATM in Assu, a tiny farming town in the middle of nowhere. Are you saying that you cannot get cash even inside the bank??
RE: US currency exchange
Posted by Jo
On Tuesday, September 03, 2002 at 15:31:47

Message:
I primarily use Banco do Brasil because I have an account there ... I work at the American School, but I hate going to the bank and usually go to the big mall you mention, Shopping Recife. The only two machines in the whole place that I can get to take my cards are in the Banco do Brasil and half the time they do not work for international cards. True, I am usually using Mastercard, but I've tried the Visa and have had the same problem. Same thing for the ones at the airport that say 24 hours. These are recent, normal U.S. credit cards. I find it puzzling, and, I think it could hurt their tourist trade.

I don't usually go to the bank because I am working during banking hours. I'm sure I could go and stand in line a half an hour there and probably get cash.



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