Brazil´s currency is called Real. Due to a history of hyperinflation, Brazil has had many currencies over the years, but ever since 1994 inflation is under control and looks like the Real is going to last.|
As we have no pegged exchange rate, it varies over time. Right now 1US$= R$2.4 (July/2005) (I am using dots for the fractions, but in Brazil we use commas e.g. 2,7)
In most major cities exchanging money is not a problem (US dollars are more common, but Euro is becoming pretty common too). But in smaller towns it can be a problem.
Exchanging travellers checks can sometimes be difficult too, and you will probably get charged a large fee for it.
You can usually exchange money at some banks, travel agencies and in major touristic places there are plenty of exchange offices (called Câmbio).
Visa and Mastercard (forget AMEX or Dinners) are usually accepted in most restaurants, bars and hotels. You can also use your credit card to withdrawl money at bank tellers (specially those called 24 horas). There are a few places that will refuse credit cards because of the large fee the issuing company charges them, check before!
In restaurants and bars the tip is usually included in the bill as a 10% service charge. If the service was exceptional you may give a little extra (usually no more than 2 reais).
Cabs and taxis are not usually tipped, you can give them the small change though (ex. if the ride was R$7.5 you can tell the driver to make it R$8.0).
Food delivery: a tip of R$1 or R$2 is enough.
At most shops you can ask for a discount if you are paying cash. With street vendors you can negociate more, specially if buying more than one thing.
Although the costs for many things varies across cities and regions, here are a few examples from Rio de Janeiro:
taxi ride from the internation airport to downtown R$25 (or US$10). Cabs are more expensive than that in most cities in Brazil.
Bus ticket: R$1.6
Subway ticket: R$2.25
Unlike many european countries, the bus and subway ticket are only good for one trip.
Can of coke: R$2 at restaurants and bars, R$1 at the grocery store.
Beer: from R$2 - R$4 in restaurants, R$1.2 at the grocery store.
Meal at McDonald´s (sandwich, fries and coke): R$8 (I don´t recommend you come to Brazil to eat at a McDonald´s though! This is just for comparison purposes)
Just ask us for any other information needed!!!