Some visitors that tour Brazil are surprised to learn that Brazil has its own currency and that they can’t use their US dollars there. The Brazilian currency is called the Real, which is pronounced “hay-al” in the singular. The plural is Reals, which is pronounced “hay-ice”
The dollar is not legal tender in Brazil, although you can use it for tipping or for buying items at some tourist locations. Prices marked in R$ are in Reals. Prices marked in $, US$, U$, or USD are in US dollars. Note that in Brazil, they reverse the use of commas and periods from the US style. So, for example, one thousand Reals would be written R$1.000,00.
Using an ATM in Brazil
When you tour Brazil, you can go to a bank and convert your dollars into Reals, or get Reals from a cash machine (ATM). In Brazil, ATMs are used a little differently than they are in the US. You probably won’t find many freestanding ATMs by themselves. Instead, you will have to go to a bank where they have a little room that is essentially dedicated to cash machines.
ATMs in Brazil typically will dispense Reals in specific denominations, so if you want R$5 bills or R$50 bills, you will need to use those specific machines. Other ATMs are used mainly for paying bills or are for old people or pregnant women.
One inexpensive way to get cash in Brazil is at a Banco do Brasil. Look for machines that have special stickers for Cirrus, Visa, Mastercard and so on. Many of these machines will have instructions in English.
Watch for Hidden Fees
Your credit card company probably will charge you an additional fee for withdrawing funds in a foreign currency, so you may want to check with your card provider before your trip so you can make the best arrangements. In some cases, it may be best to purchase Reals at your bank before leaving for your trip.