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Best ways to pay in Brazil?

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What are the best ways to pay in Brazil?

The famous question I asked myself on my first trip to Brazil was: How can I best pay without taking unnecessary risks concerning security and using the service as quickly, flexibly, and cheaply as possible. In 2005, this was a somewhat more complex question, which today, in the age of FinTech and the high competition among payment and card providers, is a lot easier and, above all, a lot more varied to be answered.

Somewhat unpleasant experiences such as card skimming also contributed to the fact that I have taken a closer look at one or the other service or trick in the last 15 years of traveling in Brazil. But more on that below and for now back to the original question: How do I best pay in Brazil or, if you ask differently, how do I move around with money in Brazil?

Some may ask themselves what this question is about, but if you look more closely, the justification of the question will become apparent. Although Brazil is one of the most exciting and beautiful countries in the world for me, the grievances and above all the enormous gap between rich and poor are known from television and other media.

Above all, this means that in Brazil, when you move around in public spaces, you should adhere to certain rules of conduct and appearance. This topic is not new and is not intended to deter you from traveling, but should be taken seriously. The topic of security is not addressed in every travel guide for no reason.

Did you know that starting from 10:00 PM, no ATM is working so no withdrawals are possible in Brazil? In Switzerland for example the country of Banks at 02:00 AM I can access without any problem an ATM to withdrawal some money. Or did you know that with some card and payment providers you can benefit a lot cheaper from payment services than with your own bank?

Although everyone from the crypto scene is looking forward to the current discussions about the acceptance and regulation of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, in Brazil as the official means of payment and with this open nature, Brazil could catapult itself into other spheres as the largest South American economy, we are in 2021 and also I don’t think so in the following years. There are still many questions to be clarified and opportunities to be created in both technical and regulatory terms. 

But let’s have a closer look below

Cash rules the world!

Sure, it is a fact that in Brazil when you are out and about, it is best to have some cash with you to pay if necessary. Here, however, the rule does not apply to high amounts and not even in the big, fat wallet which the men really walk a hill in the back pocket. Well, it can hardly be more obvious if you casually shuffle along somewhere. The best then is the fat Rolex or another eye-catching piece of jewelry and you are already part of the election party who will be robbed next. And just as an aside in Brazil, with the appropriate clientele, there is no long brawning and flaring. The money bags which are attached or worn inside the pants or under the T-shirt are also known. But they are still much better than the back pocket variant and Rolex.

As an example, it is advisable to carry a 50 Reais note in your pocket and keep additional money and cards hidden in a waist belt pocket, which you can carry inconspicuously under your T-shirt and pants. I don’t want to stir up unnecessary fears here, but I would like to raise awareness of careless behavior. There are enough negative examples every day. To loosen up, I would like to add that in the 10 years that I’ve been to Brazil, nothing has happened to me or we have never got into an unpleasant situation. As I said, with the necessary caution, a lot can be avoided.

Pay

Maestro and Creditcards

The Caixa eletrônica, as the ATMs are called in Portuguese, can be found practically everywhere in the cities. They are mainly to be found in shops, public meeting places, pharmacies and of course in the banks themselves. In remote areas, it becomes more difficult to find an ATM.

Withdrawing money at the Caixa eletrônica in Brazil is generally only possible until 10 p.m. for security reasons. After that, you can only withdraw money the next day. The ATMs there work a little differently than here but are basically very easy to use. In addition to Brazilian bank cards, VISA, Mastercard, and American Express credit cards are mainly accepted. The best and cheapest way to withdraw money is with the Maestro card, which can now be used on almost every machine. The commissions depend on the respective bank. The ATM shows which cards can be withdrawn.

Nowadays you can pay with your debit or credit card almost anywhere in Brazil. In most shops, shopping centers, restaurants, and hotels, even the beach vendor has a payment terminal. Some shops even have several payment terminals provided by different companies on the counter. Interestingly enough, it is important to say that when you pay with your EC or credit card you are always asked whether it is a “cartao debito o credito”. The question arises which answer should be given when showing the EC, Visa, or Mastercard.

In Brazil, some banks offer debit and credit cards combined in one. As a result, the holder of such a card can decide when paying whether he wants to have the payment amount debited from the account immediately or whether he wants to use the credit card function. Since the VISA or Mastercard label is of course also on these cards, the cards cannot be easily distinguished from one another.

As a result, this question is asked when paying by card. The first time this happened I was completely confused and could not really answer. Everybody was just looking at me and did not know what to answer. But for us simple, you pay with your EC, Maestro Card = “debito” you pay with credit card then your answer should be “credito”. Do not worry they already know a lot before that you are a gringo so no reason to be ashamed, hahaha.

Where can I use my Cards?

It always depends a bit on where and in which business you are if you want to consider paying by card. Today in Brazil beach vendors are already walking up and down the beach with such a payment terminal. One should not blindly use the card for payment purposes everywhere. In Brazil, card cloning has been practiced to perfection for a long time, and if you don’t exercise a little care when using payment cards, unpleasant situations can arise very quickly. To make this clear, I would like to show you how quickly something like this can happen using a story that I have experienced firsthand.

Skimming

Skimming and cloning cards are nothing new in Brazil, on the contrary …. as far as card cloning is concerned, you have to deal with professional thieves. This is what happened to us in January 2012. To this day we can only guess where my wife’s debit card was copied. Was it in a shop in Salvador or in Morro de Sao Paulo? No idea where and when that happened. How did we find out? Of course, there was money missing from the account, but luckily the card did not have a high overdraft limit and further withdrawal could be prevented. After we discovered the fraudulent withdrawals, we of course had the card blocked immediately for the time being.

When we got home, we checked with the bank about how to proceed. The bank was able to determine that while we were paying for the accommodation with the credit card on an island in Bahia, someone in Sao Paulo, 2000 kilometers away, tried over 25 times to withdraw money from the machine with the already blocked card and even tried to buy spare parts in an automotive center to pay. Well luck in bad luck, the bank refunded us the money.

To be safe from another attempt at skimming on our trips to Brazil, from then on we used an EC card with no overdraft limit to whose account we only transfer the most necessary money via online banking. We use credit cards with care. And above all, never ignore the card when paying! Never give out of your hands! really never!

The solution

For about 2 or 3 years we have been using the solutions from Revolut and Transfer wise “new: Wise” which are much cheaper than the usual bank cards and thanks to their easy handling via mobile app, physical as well as a virtual prepaid card, immediate activation, and deactivation, to name just a few features, make up the perfect package for traveling in Brazil.

In the preceding paragraphs, we talked about the common payment options using cash and credit cards and pointed out the possible dangers as well as one or the other tip. Finally, we mentioned the two payment providers Revolut and Wise, which nowadays offer the optimal package in terms of security, costs, and flexibility. In the next article, we will now compare the two providers and their services

Additional information see 

Safe and cheap payment alternatives for traveling in Brazil

Source by Dindu

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