ATMs in Brazil – Can I Use My Australian Debit & Credit Cards in Brazil?

ATMs in Brazil

Brazil has so much to offer, from vibrant carnivals to the lush Amazon rainforest and all the life it contains. But just like any other country you’ve been dreaming of visiting, money remains King here, and it’s important to know your options when travelling to and through Brazil.

At Crown Currency Exchange, we’ve put together this ultimate guide to using ATMs in Brazil. We’ll look at whether it’s possible with your Australian bank card, what fees you might have to pay when withdrawing money, and how to use an ATM in Brazil safely.

Can I Withdraw Money from ATMS in Brazil?

Withdraw Money from ATMS in Brazil

The first thing you need to know about using ATMs in Brazil is that you can withdraw cash using an Australian bank card. However, it must be affiliated with a major international payment network, such as Mastercard or Visa.

It’s also important to inform your credit or debit card issuer that you’ll be using your card in Brazil, as this will stop them from flagging transactions as suspicious due to international usage, which could lead to your card being blocked and leave you in a difficult situation.

You should also know that there are certain types of ATMs in Brazil that can be used for withdrawing money, but each has its differences.

Bank-Owned ATMs

These ATMs are owned and operated by specific banks, such as Banco do Brasil, Caixa Economica Federal, and Santander. However, you can usually only use these ATMs for cash withdrawals if you are a customer of that bank, so it’s usually best to look for an alternative.

Independent ATMs

Independent ATMs, as you may have guessed from their name, are now owned or affiliated with any specific Brazilian banks. They are also quite common throughout Brazil and can be found in tourist areas and major cities, and while you can use an Australian card for these ATM withdrawals, you will be charged a fee.

International ATMs

These cash points are part of an international network and are designed to allow visitors to make cash withdrawals using foreign debit cards. You will have to pay a fee to use this type of ATM, and the amount you’ll pay depends on what country the card is from and the network operator (usually Plus or Cirrus).

What Are the ATM Fees and Charges in Brazil?

ATM Fees and Charges in Brazil

Whether you visit an independent cash point or an international cash point in Brazil, you’re still going to have to pay a fee to withdraw cash. However, the amount you’ll pay differs quite significantly between them, with independent cash points having higher fees.

The exact amount you’ll pay in fees will typically range from R$6 – R$10 ($1.80 – $3 AUD), and this will be charged for each transaction you make. This means that it can be quite easy to accumulate fees if you withdraw cash multiple times throughout your trip.

Luckily, there are some ways you can save on these fees. The easiest by far is to exchange your money before your trip and take the cash with you. You can find the best AUD to BRL rates here.

You can also check if your bank has a partnership with any Brazilian banks, as you may be able to use branch ATMs or other cash points at a reduced rate. Also, check if the ATM you’re using offers the option to view your transactions in the local currency, and if it does, choose this.

While you won’t be used to seeing your account like this, you’ll be bypassing the ATM’s built-in dynamic conversion rate (DCC), which, in turn, means you’re not paying for an above mid-market exchange rate.

Safety and Security Tips for Using ATMs in Brazil?

You should feel as safe as possible when using an ATM in Brazil, and to ensure that you do, there are some basic rules to follow. These aren’t all that different to what you’d likely do when withdrawing cash in Australia, but they still need to be followed nonetheless.

Choose Wisely

Be sure to choose an ATM that you feel is in a well-lit, busy area. While it is easy to think that more people means a higher chance of theft, busyness can actually act as a deterrent as it makes it harder for a thief to run away unseen.

Likewise, be cautious of individuals who offer unsolicited help or seem to be very interested in your transaction. There’s nothing wrong with stepping away from a situation if something feels off and choosing another ATM in a different location.

Inspect the ATM

Before inserting your card into the ATM, take a moment to inspect the machine. Look to see if the keypad seems loose or if the card reader seems damaged or tampered with, including any attachments that you don’t think should be there. This could be a card skimming device, which can steal both your money and your identity. Should you have any doubts, go to another ATM.

Cover Your PIN

You should also take care to conceal your PIN when using an ATM in Brazil. Position your body to shield both the keypad and the screen, or if possible, cover the keypad with your other hand while you enter the numbers.

Secure Your Cash

As soon as your cash has been ejected by the ATM, take it and place it somewhere secure. Take your time to do this, and don’t feel as though you have to move away from the ATM quickly, even if there’s a long queue behind you. Securing your cash is much more important than rushing to seem polite.

Monitor Account Activity

Following your transaction, keep a close eye on your bank account for any suspicious activity, such as online transactions or cash withdrawals you don’t remember making. Should anything seem out of the ordinary, contact your bank and ask them to freeze your card.

What Should You Do if Your Card is Lost or Stolen in Brazil?

It’s never nice to think about your debit or credit cards getting lost or stolen when you’re on holiday, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. In the unfortunate event of this happening, the first thing you need to do is contact your bank or credit card company.

From here, your card will be cancelled, and a replacement will be issued, which will usually be sent to your home address unless directed otherwise. You should also keep an eye on your account for a few days after reporting your card as lost or stolen and telling your bank about any pending payments that you didn’t authorise.

For stolen cards, you may also be asked to file a police report with the local authorities. Many banks and credit card companies need this as standard in order to process any reimbursements, and it can also be used if the card thief is caught and prosecuted.

Exchanging Money in Brazil

Exchanging Money in Brazil

Even though it is possible to exchange money in Brazil, we always recommend getting ahead of the game and saving money in the process by changing your Australian Dollars for Brazilian Real before your trip.

But, should this not be possible, these are some of the best places for money exchanges in Brazil:

Cambio

Cambio are Brazil’s currency exchange offices, and these are most commonly found in tourist areas and airports. While these are very convenient for travellers who need Brazilian Real straight away, they do have high exchange rates, and some may also charge fees to use them.

Banks

Many Brazilian banks also offer exchange services, and these have much more competitive rates than those at a cambio. However, you do need to check beforehand if you’re eligible for this service as a foreign visitor, as some banks only let their customers exchange money.

Credit and Debit Card Payments

In the case that you aren’t able to exchange money in either a cambio or a bank, it is possible to use credit cards and debit cards to pay for goods and services in Brazil instead of cash. This is likely to incur a foreign transaction fee, though, the cost of which will vary between banks.

Should You Take Cash to Brazil?

Brazil Cash

There are two answers to this question. When it comes to taking Australian Dollars to Brazil, we’d recommend you don’t and, instead, exchange them for Brazilian Real before your trip. In the case of taking Brazilian Real in cash to Brazil, you absolutely should, as doing this means you can avoid expensive transaction fees when using ATMS or exchanging money.

This does, however, mean that you should implement some safety measures throughout your trip. Think about investing in a secret money belt, which you can wear both on the plane and when you’re exploring Brazil, as this will keep your cash safe and close to hand.

It’s also a good idea to use any security facilities offered by your accommodation, such as a hotel room safe. That way, you know your money is safe overnight, and you’re able to leave what you don’t need for the day safely tucked away.

Planning Tips For Your Trip to Brazil

Planning Tips For Your Trip to Brazil

Just like any other trip, it’s important to plan ahead when you’re visiting Brazil. Below you’ll find some of our top planning tips, that won’t only make life much easier but also help you work out how many Brazilian Real you need to take with you.

Check if You Need a Visa

You will need a visa if you’re visiting Brazil from Australia from April 2024 onwards. You’ll need to apply for this through the Australian Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil, and if granted, your visa will allow you to stay in Brazil for up to 90 days over a 12-month period.

Create an Itinerary and Travel Budget

Once your visa has been granted, it’s a good idea to make an itinerary that outlines everything you want to do on your trip. By doing this, you’re able to create an overall travel budget and break your expenses down daily, meaning that you’ll then know how much to keep on your person each day and how much to leave safely locked away in your hotel room.

Be Prepared Upon Arrival

From the second you get off the plane, you’ll need some Brazilian Real to pay for a taxi to your accommodation and tip hotel staff. Having cash on hand also means that you’re able to head straight out and explore the area, grab something to eat, or do anything else you’ve been looking forward to!

Take Out Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can seem like a pretty boring thing to contemplate, but it’s really important. A good policy will cover you for a plethora of unfortunate circumstances, including lost luggage, cancelled accommodation, and medical care. So, make sure you take the time to take out some travel insurance before your trip.

Have the Numbers of Your Local Embassy

It’s also important that you know who to contact in situations that your travel insurance can’t cover, such as legal help or lost passports. In these instances, you’ll need to contact the Australian Embassy in Brazil.

Get the Best Exchange Rates on Brazilian Real at Crown Currency

Regardless of whether you need to use a cash point or exchange Australian Dollars when you’re in Brazil, you’re going to have to pay a fee when doing so. You can avoid this, however, with careful planning and by exchanging your money before you leave.

Crown Currency Exchange has the best rates on AUD to BRL with no commission or hidden fees. Contact us today to learn more, or visit one of our many branches to speak to a member of our expert team.

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