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 (http://www.westernunion.com.br) 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 (http://www.bcb.gov.br/?MO...). And more (http://www.bcb.gov.br/?MO...). 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 (http://www.bcb.gov.br/?CE...).
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.
It's not a bad idea to pack light and acquire a Brazilian wardrobe within a couple of days of arrival. It will make you less obvious as a tourist, and give you months of satisfied gloating back home about the great bargains you got whenever you are complimented on your clothing. Brazilians have their own sense of style and that makes tourists - especially those in Hawaiian shirts or sandals with socks - stand out in the crowd. Have some fun shopping, and blend in. Another good reason for buying clothes and shoes in Brazil is that the quality is usually good and the prices often cheap. However, this does not apply to any foreign brand as imports are burdened by high import taxes - therefore, do not expect to find any good prices on brands like Diesel, Levi's, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. To figure your Brazilian trousers size, measure your waist in centimeters, divide by 2, and round up to the next even number.
Store windows will often display a price followed by "X 5" or "X 10", etc. This is an installment-sale price. The price displayed is the per-installment price, so that, "R$50 X 10", for example, means 10 payments typically monthly of R$50 each. The actual price is almost always lower if you pay in cash.
Make sure any appliances you buy are either dual voltage or the same as in your home country. Brazil is 60Hz, so don't buy electric clocks or non-battery operated motorized items if you live in Europe or Australia. The voltage, however, varies by state or even regions inside the same state. see Electricity below.
Brazilian-made appliances and electronics are usually expensive or of poor quality. All electronics are expensive compared to European or US prices.
Brazil uses a hybrid video system called "PAL-M." It is NOT at all compatible with the PAL system of Europe and Australia. Television began in black and white using the NTSC system of the USA and Canada, then years later, using PAL for its analogue colour -- making a totally unique system. Nowadays, most new TV sets are NTSC compatible. However, the newly-introduced digital TV standard is not compatible with that of most other countries. Digital video appliances such as DVD players are also compatible with NTSC all digital colour is the same worldwide, but make sure the DVD region codes, if any, match your home country Brazil is part of Region 4. Prices for imported electronic goods can be quite expensive due to high import tax, and the range of domestic electronic gadgets is not very wide. Also, be aware that the term "DVD" in Brazil is both an abbreviation for the disc itself and for its player, so be specific to avoid confusion.
Although the strength of the Real means that shopping in Brazil is no longer cheap, there are still plenty of bargains to be had, especially leather goods, including shoes remember sizes are different though. Clothes in general are a good buy, especially for women, for whom there are many classy items. Street markets, which are common, are also a very good option, but avoid brand names like "Nike" - you will pay more and it's probably fake. Don't be afraid to "feel" an item. If it doesn't feel right, most likely it isn't! Beware of the dreaded "Made in China" label. If there's none, it's probably Brazilian, but be aware: some Brazilian-made products are less robust than their American or European counterparts.
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 December 1, 2011, 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.