The Brazilian currency is the real (its symbol, R$). Only banks from neighbouring countries will exchange reales. You are advised to take dollars or euros with you. If coming from Europe, there is no need to exchange euros into dollars. Euros ares as easy to exchange as dollars.
Traveller’s cheques are not an interesting option when it comes to Brazil. They are difficult to cash, and the exchange rates are always less favourable than the rates for hard currency.
Euros and dollars are only accepted in expensive shops and very touristic places (Rio, Iguazu). The exchange rate is never good. In most parts of Brazil, only reales are accepted. There are several ways of obtaining reales:
- at a bank
- at a currency exchange/bureau de change
- withdrawing money from an ATM
Currency exchanges/bureaux de change usually offer a more favourable exchange rate than banks. On top of that, the red tape involved in exchanging money at a bank is non-existent at a currency exchange/bureau de change. Currency exchanges/bureaux de change at airports always offer worse rates than the ones downtown.
There isn’t a unified ATM network in Brazil. Each bank operates its own network, not interlinked to the network of the other banks. The exception is the red 24horas, used by several different banks. There is a considerable number of ATMs that will allow withdrawals with a VISA or MasterCard card. Among them, the mentioned 24horas as well as the Bradesco and HSBC’s ATMs.