Money in Brazil
Money, Budgeting & Tipping
The currency is the Brazilian Real. We suggest using ATMs to obtain the majority of your cash. Take two different cards (for example one credit, one debit – preferably Visa, MasterCard or American Express) in case one is not accepted. It is a good idea to tell your bank about your travel plans to reduce the chance of them blocking your cards. It is also a good idea to take a modest amount of US dollars in cash with you as a back-up (other currencies are less easily exchanged and rates may be poor). Most shops and restaurants accept credit cards but check first! ATMs are not as numerous as you might be used to in your own country, so it is a good idea to plan ahead, ask your hotel reception where the nearest one is to save you walking around for a long time trying to find one. Note that most ATMs in Brazil do not operate at night.
It is a good idea to leave your passport and valuables in your hotel safe and just take what you need for the day with you.
Until recently, the economy has been booming and as a result costs in Brazil are not as low as North Americans or Europeans might expect (or hope!). They are still lower than most of our traveler’s home countries though. In restaurants 10-12% is normal for a tip for normal or good service – check to see if “servicio” or “gorjeta” has already been added to the bill.
A meal at a mid-range restaurant in Rio de Janeiro costs about all $15-20 per person plus drinks.
- Bottle of beer (local brand) – $3
- Glass of wine – $8
- 1L bottle of water – $2
Tipping of guides and drivers is very much a personal decision but much appreciated. These amounts are just for guidance:
- Group tour guides: $5-10 (4-8 hour tour) – per person
- Private guides: $10-20 (4-8 hour tour) – total, assuming you are two people, consider more for a larger group
- Driver: $2-5 (per day, and depending on the length of drive) total, assuming you are two people, consider more for a larger group
- Hotel porters: $1 for multiple bags
- Hotel housekeeping: $1 per night
Peak travel seasons in Brazil include Christmas, New Year and Carnival (date varies, February or March) in particular. If you are keen to see celebrations these are great times to visit, if not save yourself some money and pick another time of year.