Thursday, 29 September 2011

Banking in Brazil

*An update from our Bank Manager in HSBC Brazil

Global View limits are:

Per day: US$ 2.950,00
Per Month: US$ 15.000,00

Always choose American dollars currency because that's GV currency.
If you choose to do a wire transfer in R$, GV will exchange it into dollars twice and you will lose money this transaction. 

So for those of you who have opened a bank account in brazil you have bled the same sweat and tears... We spent the first 8 months here drawing cash from our HK account each day - max withdrawal of R1000 meant lots of pre-planning when rent day, Juliete's payday etc were all due. We couldn't even start to apply for an account until we had other paperwork in place (CPF, RNE, rental agreement)

We were already knew we we would be going with HSBC since we already have accounts in Hong Kong,  UK and US but it does you no favours (so much for being the World's Bank...... I'm about to take this comment back in few paragraphs).  The paperwork we had to endure - no different from your Visa, CPF, RNE, renting an apartment, renting a pousada, having a baby - was painful but we got it altogether and had been recommended a manager at HSBC here who spoke English.

We had been pre-warned that our first set of bank cards would go missing as the bank could ONLY send it to the residential address and the delivery had to be signed for but you would be given no forewarning of when it would arrive - it could arrive in 1 week, 1 month or 6 months. We asked the Bank Manager if we could change the delivery address to Tim's office but he said it was standard procedure - we would only be able to change it once the cards were sent back to them. So instead we got a note from our Bank Manager (the same one) saying the cards had been returned and would we like to pick them up from him or have them sent to another address. Super efficient huh!

But the reason why I still LOVE HSBC is for things like this - HSBC Global View. Again, as most of you know - bringing money into Brazil is a complete pain in the a**!! I believe you can bring in up to R15k every 2 weeks that will stay under the radar - any amounts larger than this would have to got through the mandatory banking system here, and who knows how long your money could be stuck. I think our last major transfer took about 6 weeks to come through and that wasn't including all the paperwork needed before.

Another side note on this money stuff here is how to write cheques in Brazil. I was given an example when I first arrived but thought I would never use so threw it away - cheques are so old school where I'm from - but here they are not! I've slowly been learning how to write cheques. 

1. No name needed - just the amount
2. Write the amount on top right with a hash symbol on eitherside, e.g. #R400.00#
3. If you are writing 'Um' as your first number put an 'H' infront so it reads as 'Hum' and no one can add a few other numbers..
4. Use a capital letter for your first number e.g. Quatrocentos, Cinco, etc
5. cross twice on top left so the person has to deposit it into their account and can't just cash it
6. Any other tips?


  1. One tip, stop using cheques, Brazilians are giving up cheques all together.
    Get a debit card, it works just like a cheque but you don't have to write anything, just press your 4 digits code every time you use your card in every store, even at your local corner bakery to buy fresh rolls ;)
    Do everything on line unless you have a "preferencial account" at your bank and your manager takes care of everything for you.
    Otherwise you can pay bills, make deposits and everything else on ATMs or online.
    Don't ever stand at a line inside the banks, there are always options to avoid the lines, unless you enjoy visiting with the local folks :)


  2. I love my bank cards but there are places which will only accept cheque or cash and not particularly comfortable walking around with lots of money in my pocket!

    As for queues, i'm lucky at the moment - being 8 months pregnant puts me straight to the front of the queue. Another reason why I love living here!!