Foreign Exchange Guide to Brazil
In this guide we review :
- Brazilian real info - general info about the Brazilian real
- Brazilian real in the markets - recent BRL moves and predictions from the FX markets
- Travelling in Brazil - currency & money saving tips
- Buying Brazilian real cash online - travel money for Brazil
- Sending money to Brazil - save on Brazilian real bank transfers to Brazil
- Brazilian real exchange rates - latest info & charts.
Brazilian real (BRL) general currency information
Trading in Brazil’s real contributes to around 1% of the foreign exchange market’s daily turnover. The real is subdivided into 100 centavos.
The value of Brazil’s real is heavily influenced by commodities prices, given that the country’s top exports include iron ore, crude oil and the ‘soft’ commodities, especially soybeans.
As an emerging market currency, the real is considered riskier than currencies from major developed nations, which means that its value will fall against those currencies (especially JPY, USD, CHF, GBP and EUR) during periods of economic uncertainty or when global geopolitical risk is elevated, or during bouts of high market volatility.
Since the year 2000, the real’s highest valuation against the US dollar occurred in July 2011 when the exchange rate for USD/BRL fell to just 1.531. Its lowest value came in September 2015, when USD/BRL reached 4.248 following a plunge in commodities prices.
Brazilian real (BRL) in the markets
Entering November, the real continues to trade in the middle of its 2017 range against the dollar, at 3.267. The real is virtually unchanged on the year and, like many other currencies, lost around 5% of its value in the September-October period amid a broad dollar rebound.
Against the euro, the real was threatening to break significant support (EUR/BRL resistance). EUR/BRL rates between 3.8 and 3.82 had kept a lid on real weakness but the exchange rate climbed to 3.807 on November 2nd. A break of 3.82 will likely spur further real losses. The Brazilian currency has already lost nearly 10% of its value against the euro in 2017.
Major themes for the real in November included the economy, commodities and politics.
Economic growth of 1% in the first quarter ended the longest recession in Brazil’s history – the economy had contracted in the eight quarters prior – but a slip to growth of just 0.2% in the second quarter fuelled fears for further contraction. Third-quarter data is released in December.
In early November, commodities were very strong, which will assist the real. Oil climbed in November to a 10-month high of $55.19 and metals prices were soaring. Alumina – the raw material for aluminium – was more than 50% above its August prices. Nickel was at its highest levels since 2015.
In politics, President Michel Temer was seemingly let off the hook in August after Brazil’s Congress voted marginally for him to avoid standing trial on corruption charges, Brazil’s political situation will remain tense, at least until next year’s election.
Brazil currency and money saving tips
Brazil is generally the most expensive country in South America so keep that in mind when deciding how much cash to carry on you. Brazil's currency unit is the real (plural = reais) and is made up of 100 centavos. It's best to carry nothing larger than 10 or 20 reais bank notes. This will make it easier to make small purchases as well as easier for small vendors, stores and restaurants to provide you with change. Using a credit or debit card can be an ideal way to avoid carrying more cash than you require for just incidental expenses. Most hotels, restaurants and stores in Brazil readily accept Visa and Master Card. If possible choose a credit card which doesn't charge for currency conversion to save money on international transaction fees when travelling through South America, as most most issuing banks will charge a foreign transaction fee of from 2 to 3% and may have additional fees.
Brazil's major cities have excellent metro systems, with Rio’s system being expanded for the 2016 Olympic Games. Otherwise the local buses are decent and fairly priced and can be a good way to get to know a city. Outside of Rio rail travel is all but non existent in Brazil so you will have to rely on either airlines or intercity buses.
In Brazil, as with most countries in South America it is often a good idea to travel with a combination of currencies to have along with your credit card. Sometimes foreign cards may not be accepted at ATMs and often cash is the only way to pay so have some local currency and some US dollars on hand as well as you can generally pay with USD everywhere. However in some cases the only ATM's that give USD are at airports and major banks. Small towns may not have ATM's at all. Travelling with a Prepaid Travel Card can make life easier.Make a point to check your bank account for strange withdrawals as cards get skinned fairly often. Be sure to have travel insurance when traveling in South America, you could consider choosing a credit card that comes with complimentary travel insurance.
Brazil Trip Checklist
Travel money for Brazil
Save money and time by Ordering your Brazilian real online from Travelex, you get better rates and can pick up the BRL cash locally or even on travel day at the airport.
Another popular option is to use a Pre-paid Travel Card. Your Debit/Credit Card provider will charge you 2% from market mid-rate, but your bank may also charge an extra 3% as an “Overseas Transaction Charge” plus “Overseas ATM” fees for withdrawing cash.
For card purchases if offered a choice of currencies always select to Pay in Brazilian real otherwise you may get much worst exchange rates.
Sending money to Brazil
When sending money to Brazil it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers. To get a better deal you should follow these 3 simple steps :
- Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
- You specify the local or Brazilian real amount you want to transfer
- Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
- Once your funds are received by the provider the converted BRL amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in Brazil.
By comparing the rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more - end result is more Brazilian real deposited into the recipient bank account in Brazil and less margins and fees kept by the banks!