Money talks, and you have to translate it to keep track of how much you are spending. Although you can charge most transactions to a credit card, cash is sometimes more convenient. The exchange rate will work against you if you find Brazilian currency abroad.
If your bank card uses an international system such as Cirrus, it should work on many local ATMs. Please bring a few hundred dollars or euros and keep them for emergencies. Other currencies may have poorer exchange rates.
The Basics: Meet the Reais (BRL)
Brazilian dollars are called reais. To simplify things, this is a word with an irregular plural: one real, two reais. The denominations are 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200. Each real is divided into 100 centavos. At ATMs, you can withdraw money in bills from 20 to 200.
While exchanging money was once a concern, now you can use your international bank card to withdraw Brazilian currency from local ATMs. Keep some cash on you for small expenses and charge others to your debit or credit card.
Your bank will determine the exchange rate. Make sure to advise them you are going to travel abroad. Ask about possible restrictions to avoid any issues. If you have any doubts, talk to your account manager.
You may exchange dollars or euros for Brazilian Reais at licensed travel agencies. They usually have a big exchange sign to advertise this service. Remember, you only need pocket money. There’s no need to exchange a fortune.
Due to import taxes, luxury brands, electronics, and high-technology articles are generally expensive. However, lodging, restaurants, local goods, and services are affordable.
Tipping in Rio
While Brazilians and Europeans are on the same page, the tipping culture in the USA is peculiar. It’s not a problem when you purposely overtip, but doing it because you’re unfamiliar with the culture is unfair.
Let’s set a few basics, starting with restaurants. A 10% tip is included in the bill, and this is it. Of course, you can leave a little extra if you want, but it’s not mandatory.
In taxis, most people round up the fare to make life easier. Again, you do not have to calculate a percentage over what the meter reads. When you use apps such as Uber, you can leave a tip when you rate the ride.
Many restaurants that offer food delivery use third-party apps to provide the service. The tax is included in the total. Customers usually give the delivery person a small bill as a gratuity. It’s not a percentage.
When you use the services of a professional such as a pedicurist, manicurist, masseur, beautician, etc., a small tip is expected. Fancier hair stylists may have higher tip expectations.