Exchanging foreign money into Brazil currency in Rio de Janeiro is easy and is most commonly done at Bank ATMs, Cambios (stores that specialize in currency exchange), and at travel agencies. Currency exchange rates are posted in the window of most banks and at these agencies.
Avoid exchanging money at the airport upon arrival, as lines are long and the exchange rate is poor. There has been a lot of card cloning fraud reported when using the ATMs at GIG International Airport. Hotels will often offer money exchange and convert it at the front desk. Hotel currency exchange rates are less competitive than the Banks and Cambios, but are usually better than rates at the airport.
Many Cambios are located on the main avenues of Rua Visconde de Piraja in Ipanema and in Copacabana along the Avenida NS Copacabana. They will have “Cambio” signs in the windows and over the store. Cambios may be located inside travel agencies and will often give better Brazil currency exchange rates than the banks.
ATM cash withdrawal using a credit or debit card is the most convenient method to get Reais. Before leaving home, confirm with your bank or credit card company the procedures and fees charged for international ATM withdrawals. A service fee may also be charged by the Brazilian bank. Use ATMs that are located inside the bank lobbies. Never use one on the street or late in the evening (ATMs usually turn off at 11pm). Cover your PIN# with your hand and avoid withdrawing large sums at one time. An ATM that allow credit card withdrawal will have small credit card emblems on it. The current daily maximum withdrawal is R $1000. (R $300 maximum withdrawal after 10pm).
Exchanging money before you arrive can be easily completed using an on-line exchange service. The company will offer rates that are about 10% less than the official exchange rate and will charge $15 to send you the Brazilian Reais by overnight delivery. The minimum exchange is usually US $ 200 to a maximum of $250. A Visa or Mastercard must be used to exchange currency, and this is treated as a “cash advance” which your credit card company may treat differently than merchandise charges.
Using Credit Cards for currency exchange. Although restaurant and store merchants won’t advance you cash from your credit or debit card, paying for food and other services in Reais will usually result in a good exchange rate by your card company. Visit our Using Credit Cards Safely page for more info.