Money, Money , Money, Money …
I had to edit this article to include this WARNING! If possible, ONLY use your ATM Card to get cash from the Bank. Using your card in stores and restaurants is extremely dangerous as cloning is VERY COMMON in Brazil. In fact, Brazil rarely uses U.S. Dollars, Euros and any other currency but their own, known as Reals. So travelers, when you arrive at the Airport in Sao Paulo, or Rio or wherever, go immediately to the Currency Exchange. They are usually very conveniently located within steps of your arrival gate. Beware if you decide to use Euros or U.S. Dollars in your day-to-day transactions because your cab driver, store clerk or restaurateurs most likely will not know the exchange rate which changes daily – http://www.exchange-rates.org/history/BRL/USD/T. No matter what you decide to do, you will need a passport every time you exchange funds.
Brazil does not use pennies, that’s right, NO Pennies. This means that when you get your change something interesting happens. If the change comes to say R$10.03, (considering the cents only), the cents are rounded up and therefore you will get R$10 and a nickel (5 cents) change back. BUT if your change is R$10.02, (anything 2 cents or less) the store will keep. Therefore you will only get R$10 back. BEWARE of those people who suspect that you are the ‘unknowing foreigner’ because they will keep the nickel regardless. I had to ask for my nickel on several occasions. So COUNT YOUR CHANGE FOLKS! Remember: ‘Pennies make Dollars’ or should I say ‘Reals?’
When I arrived in Brazil in early 2013, the rate was as high as R$2.89 (meaning 2.89 Reals) to $1 U.S. Dollar. By September 18, 2013, the conversion rate had dropped as low as R$2.18 to $1 U.S. Dollar. As of August 10, 2014, the conversion rate is now R$2.28 (2.28 Reals) to $1 U.S. Dollar. As you can see, the value of the Real fluctuates greatly so one has to decide when and how much you will convert on any one day. Regardless, keep an eye on your wallet. In fact, use the security vault in the hotel and only withdraw funds as needed.