What is Brazil Currency? All About Brazilian Money

Since the Independence Day of Brazil, back in 1822, the country already had 9 currencies. Since 1994, Brazil adopted a new currency that replaced the old one named “Cruzeiro”.

Brazilian Real (Real Brasileiro) is the official currency in Brazil. It was created in the government of the former president Itamar Franco, by the team formed by the Finance Minister Fernando Cardoso, that later became president as a result of the success of the creation of the new currency.

There’s a lot of reasons why the Brazilian Real was created and Its success (at least at that time) was the main reason why one man was elected the President of Brazil.

Why Brazilian Real was created?

Brazil is going through some hard times with inflation because of the pandemic crisis and the bad decisions made by the government. But this is nothing if compared with what was going on in Brazil back in the 90s.

The inflation was so high that the employees of markets and store needed to tag and label the products a lot of times a day because was too risky to let products priced the same while the money was losing its value day after day. At that time, the Brazilian currency was “Cruzeiro”.

After a lot of attempts of solving the problem failed, Itamar Franco, the president of Brazil at that time invited Fernando Henrique Cardoso to be his Finance Minister. If the name Fernando Henrique Cardoso does not feel strange for you, you’re about to discover why.

What is Brazil Currency?

Fernando accepted the mission and formed a group that was responsible to fix the problems with the Brazilian economy and ended-up creating the new currency: Brazilian Real (BRL).

The project was called “O Plano Real” and it took about a year, from 1993 to 1994, to be completed. In this period Brazil adopted a temporary currency called “Cruzeiro Real”.

At first, the project was a home-run. Finally, the country had a strong currency, with trading rates of 1 BRL for 1 USD. What a great time. The inflation rates dropped from 40% to 1,5%.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso became the President of Brazil

After the Strong success that was in that time the creation of the new Brazilian currency, the popularity of the Finance Minister that accepted a suicide mission and solved (at least one of) the problem went to the roof to a part of the population that was more liberal in the economy.

So, in the elections of 1993 Fernando Henrique Cardoso was running against Luis Inacio Lula da Silva for the presidency. Fernando won the elections and became the president of Brazil in 1995.

His government continued with good policies for the currency but failed in cutting off the tax rates, which resulted in poor economic growth through the years. Even so, Fernando was re-elected, being the president of Brazil from January 1994 to December 2001.

Trading Rates of Brazilian Real Since 1994

YearAverage Trading Rates (USD / BRL)
19941,00 USD was equivalent to 0,82 BRL
19951,00 USD was equivalent to 0,91 BRL
19961,00 USD was equivalent to 1,05 BRL
19971,00 USD was equivalent to 1,07 BRL
19981,00 USD was equivalent to 1,16 BRL
19991,00 USD was equivalent to 1,81 BRL
20001,00 USD was equivalent to 1,83 BRL
20011,00 USD was equivalent to 2,35 BRL
20021,00 USD was equivalent to 2,92 BRL
20031,00 USD was equivalent to 3,07 BRL
20041,00 USD was equivalent to 2,92 BRL
20051,00 USD was equivalent to 2,43 BRL
20061,00 USD was equivalent to 2,17 BRL
20071,00 USD was equivalent to 1,94 BRL
20081,00 USD was equivalent to 1,83 BRL
20091,00 USD was equivalent to 1,99 BRL
20101,00 USD was equivalent to 1,76 BRL
20111,00 USD was equivalent to 1,67 BRL
20121,00 USD was equivalent to 1,95 BRL
20131,00 USD was equivalent to 2,15 BRL
20141,00 USD was equivalent to 2,35 BRL
20151,00 USD was equivalent to 3,33 BRL
20161,00 USD was equivalent to 3,49 BRL
20171,00 USD was equivalent to 3,19 BRL
20181,00 USD was equivalent to 3,65 BRL
20191,00 USD was equivalent to 3,94 BRL
20201,00 USD was equivalent to 5,15 BRL

It’s Possible to use Dollars or Euros when Traveling to Brazil?

Unfortunately, it’s not possible. Although some places accept payments in US Dollars or Euros, it’s just a small portion of the businesses.

For the most part (like 99%) of the restaurants, markets, pharmacies, tours, etc. All the things that tourists want to do in travel are paid in the current currency of Brazil, that is Brazilian Real.

You can always use your international card. It’s accepted in the majority of places. Just to keep in mind that sometimes using a credit card it’s more expensive than paying in cash. It’s also easier to bargain when you’re intending to pay in cash (especially here in Brazil).

Also, a piece of good international travel advice is to always have some quantity in cash of the country you’re visiting. It can literally save your ass If you get lost or robbed or something bad happens to you. In these times, money is king.

Where to Buy Brazilian Real?

Apart from the pandemic if you’re already vaccinated It’s a great time to visit Brazil. Even more, if your income is in a strong currency, such as USD, EUR, or GBP, for example.

That’s because at the current trading rates 1 USD buys 5,77 BRL. That’s a pretty good deal to travel on a budget. With U$ 1000,00, for example, a couple can enjoy five nights at a Five Star All-Inclusive Resort in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina.

I have no affiliate links, but If you wanna check the actual resort that I’m talking about just Google for “Costão do Santinho Resort”. I’ve been there 2 times with my wife and it’s awesome. If you’re all about eating well, resting and enjoying the nature this place is a go for you.

That’s an amazing deal, considering that a night in a good hotel in Miami with breakfast only costs more that U$ 250.

You can buy Brazilian Real in your country of origin using websites or traditional money exchange stores. But keep in mind that in case of an emergency you can do it in Brazil.

Even in the airport is pretty easy to find places to do currency exchange. Just don’t expect the best rates, considering that It’s always more expensive to do business of any kind inside an airport.


Well, I hope you have enjoyed the article “What is Brazil Currency?”.

The history of Brazilian money does not have a happy ending. At least not yet. Even so, the project controlled the hyperinflation of those times and gave us a strong currency for a few years.

Although It’s kind of sad for us in Brazil to see our currency value melting down, It’s a good opportunity for travelers or event for those that are looking to live in an amazing country as long as you income is in a strong currency.

If you make 3000 USD a month, you’ll be making R$ 17300+. That’s more than 99% of the population of Brazil and enough for you to live an amazing life down here.

To know more about the costs of living in Brazil, check this amazing research that I’ve made on How Much Does It Cost To Live Comfortably in Brazil. It worth the time to read!

If you liked this content, share it with a friend or leave a comment. It helps me a lot 🙂

Also, check more incredible content about Brazil clicking here.

Have a good one.


What’s up! I’m André, a Brazilian born and bred living in the South of Brazil in a little city called Guarapuava. I’m passionate about traveling and knowing different cultures and that’s why I love to share useful information about the Food, Travel, Facts, and Culture of my beloved country, Brazil.

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