🇧🇷 Monzo in Brazil [Discussion]

I am very fortunate to be going to Brazil in the coming days for the Olympics. I have never been before and never experienced the Olympics. Not even during London 2012.

There is always a concern about travelling abroad and having a lot of cash on my person. Therefore a Mondo card is a great place to start with if a) there are cash points that accept Mastercard and b) Shops do the same. I will probably take both cash and Mondo and use Mondo as a back up but at least if I loose the card or anything worse should happen there is a limit on how much money I have in there.

My question is: Has anyone had experience of using Mondo in Brazil or even wider South America. Also any general advice about travelling to Rio.

Thanks in advance

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AFAIK, as Visa sponsor the Olympics, you won’t be able to use Mondo (or any Mastercard) inside any Olympics venues. Can’t comment on normal Brazil merchants however.


That is an excellent point Alex.
Thank you

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Just to follow up on my trip.

The card worked at banks and larger retailers but smaller outfits seem to reject the card.

I cannot be specific about each vendor but it’s worth taking out there

On a side note I also spotted another MonZo user when I was in Rio!!

Spent several pain-free weeks in Rio with Monzo (as well as two more arduous when I lost my card).

I didn’t have the card rejected once across a broad array of vendors, provided they weren’t contractually bound to accept only Visa.

Sometimes retailers would ask if it was a credit or debit card, and despite it technically being a prepaid debit card, in Brazil it’s recognised as a credit card, so this may have contributed to Alistair’s rejections.

In terms of broader recommendations, I’d recommend getting a local SIM card (Claro were running a traveller promotion where R$100 provided you 4GB of internet and unlimited social media) so that you can see transactions via Monzo and react quickly to any cloning (while working in Rio numerous colleagues had cards cloned in ATMs and beachfront Kiosks - look out for servers making you try multiple card machines as ones that “don’t work” may be cloning your card before they actually go through with the transaction on a proper reader).

With the exception of the beachfront kiosks, I preferred the security of paying directly via card vs risking ATMs (frequently fitted with skimmers, and Monzo doesn’t support magstripe, which Banco do Brasil and Caixa primarily use - although Monzo will notify you why you haven’t been able to withdraw). Can’t think of a single vendor that didn’t support card payments, even travelling in more rural regions of Brazil, and they’ll include service on the bill (10% usually) so you don’t need to tip in cash.


I know this is posted elsewhere but relates to Brazil too


Cheers for the update :slight_smile:

Hi there,

Has anyone used Monzo in Brazil recently? I am going in February and would like to know how well it works there for cash withdrawals and shops, restaurants.


I used it in 2016 in Rio and all was great :slight_smile:

So, am in Brazil in December 2017. Both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. First tip - even though the Monzo card is a debit MasterCard, when you go to pay for something you’ll be asked ‘debito’ or ‘credito’. Always say ‘credito’ and your transaction will go through smoothly.

I’ve had ATM issues, I haven’t worked out the correct routine yet, but will try today. Either the transaction is declined or it says my daily limit has already been reached. Monzo support have been great, especially where an ATM charged me but didn’t give me any money.

ATMs here a really sophisticated. First, you push your card into the slot and remove it. The ATM offers you a choice of languages and one of four accounts to withdraw money from - Checking, Credit, Savings or Universal. As it knows your card has a chip, it will ask you to reinsert your card and enter your PIN. You choose how much you want to withdraw and then wait. I managed to withdraw some cash from a Banco do Brasil machine selecting Universal, but I think I was just lucky.

The ATMs and many large shops and supermarkets have gone biometric - they have a thumbprint sensor for extra security. Luckily, being a foreign card, it doesn’t need that.

I’ll post again when I have found a successful ATM withdrawal method.

It is a good idea to have a working smartphone with data so you can monitor what’s happening and to chat with support. I brought my 3 phone which counts Brazil as a Feel-at-Home country so I can make and receive calls from the UK from my allowance, same with data. Seeing as most Brazil mobile providers give WhatsApp free, most people will message you and make calls using it.

Alternatively go to a Claro or Tim shop and buy a SIM (take your passport) and if no one in the shop speaks English to activate it, both providers have English helplines to get you started.


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This is pretty much a world-wide thing. ‘Debit’, in many countries, refers to local debit networks. Not to Visa/Mastercard/American Express (yes, there is American Express prepaid debit in the US)/Discover/Unionpay/etc.

Do you happen to know what the local debit networks are in Brazil? I’m trying to learn them all :slight_smile:

Been using the Monzo Card in Brazil for the last 2 weeks and only found the credit/debit card issue a few times. Most of the time, you can put it through as a debit card but on older card machines it sometimes works as credit or not at all. A different card and cash is still necessary to travel here easily in my opinion.

We are visiting Brazil soon (Rio). Has anyone used Monzo at restaurants? Any tips or recommendations - EG are the card machine;s instructions in Portuguese? Do you get charged in Reals or GBP? Can you leave a tip via the card machine?

Just leaving Brazil after 2 weeks in and around Rio and São Paulo. Monzo worked perfectly in restaurants and shops. I was sometimes given the choice of £ or Reals but always chose Reals and always chose ‘crédito ‘. I don’t recall being given the option to add tip to card payment and just left cash.
Getting cash out was a bit more hit and miss. Did this once in the west of São Paulo (Santana de Parnaíba). First atm I tried (Itaú) didn’t accept the card at all. Next attempt was in a convenience store - I think the atm was banco24horas. It would give me the cash but was going to charge R$24 for the ‘convenience ‘. I passed on that and went to a branch of Bradesco. Chose credit and worked perfectly. J

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^ can confirm Bradesco works free of charge :slight_smile:

You’ve possibly already gone to Rio, but for future reference:

Yes, repeatedly in 2016. It’s substantially safer to pay by card than withdraw cash. There’s still risk of skimming in restaurants so keep an eye on what’s been done with your card and check your transaction feed/balance regularly when you can.

Card machines tend to be in Portuguese. Some machines will give the option between BRL and GBP, you’ll get the best rates via Monzo by paying in BRL on the terminal. I don’t recall ever not being able to specify a tip on the terminal in Rio (think this is a bit of a necessity with the risk associated with ATMs - I got the impression that card payments are pretty much the default in Brazil)

As has been said a couple of times, choose crédito if prompted between that and whatever the Portuguese for debit is (Google suggests débito).

I have now visited both Argentina (BA) and Brazil (Iguacu and Rio). Thanks for the info everyone. Monzo worked fine and with wifi/3G connections you instantly get updated when any payment goes through. I did not use it to withdraw cash (I prefer to get cash via mse links ahead of time), but paid bills in Restaurants, airports etc without trouble. I always Monzo-paid in local currency and was not offered a choice of GBP; although maybe I was just lucky. Rates were better through Monzo than what I paid for cash; but as the rate seems to fluctuate a lot in these countries I would not necessarily say this will always be the case. As I always had some cash ready for a tip (never sure whether waiters actually get the tip when it is added to the bill) I was also not offered the opportunity to add a tip to the bill. To state the obvious, I always checked the amount on the card machine against the amount on the bill - of course!
Overall, very simple and easy to use.

Just came back from Brazil and in general Monzo worked fine. Like the other posters you need to select Credito and not Debito, so if you are asked if it’s a credit card just say yes. I never fully understood but it seemed to work!
The only problem we had was with one card machine company, it was something like Strafapay and the machine was yellow. My Monzo card just wouldn’t work with it, but luckily we either had some cash to cover the meal or in one case the restaurant had a different card machine with a different company!

The culture in Brazil is very much a card one, even the beach drink sellers have card machines and the locals rarely seem to use much cash.

Hope this may be of use to someone…Brazil is awesome :slight_smile:

Using Monzo card in Rio has caused a few issues. Doesn’t work with most card machines. Choosing either Debit or Credit doesn’t seem to work. Main attractions like Christ Redentor or the Sugerloaf Mountain. When trying to avoid taking out cash at ATMs its not ideal

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Keep an eye on your feed, a lot of the time if a terminal ‘doesn’t work’ it’s because it’s not a legitimate terminal and will be skimming your card details and PIN. This is especially true of beach-front kiosks.

When I was there a few years back I had no issues with the prepaid card, it worked great in restaurants, supermarkets, tourist attractions, transport. Obviously I can’t vouch for how well full accounts work these days/