A Guide on the Best Way to Send Money to Brazil

A Guide on the Best Way to Send Money to Brazil

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When it comes to sending money to Brazil, you want to pick a money transfer service provider that offers the best exchange rates and the lowest transfer fees.

But with all the options available online, how do you narrow down your choices?

We’ve made it easy in this guide to sending money to Brazil as we compare some of the more popular methods and their fees.

Also, you can always check out Monito before using any of the online money transfer service providers below. They update their website every day with the latest exchange rates and transfer fees for all the popular service providers. This saves you time and money on each of your international transfers.

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Good to Know

Depending on your home country’s laws, you may have to let your government know when you have over a certain amount of money in a foreign bank account.

Americans, for instance, have to report any amount over US$10,000, even if that amount was only in a foreign bank account for one day.

To do this, Americans have to file FinCEN form 114 when doing their annual taxes. If they don’t, and the IRS finds out, they could have to pay hefty fines.

So, check whether your government has the same laws, and if so, make sure to follow them if you send over that amount to Brazil.

What to Watch Out for When Sending Money to Brazil

Sending money to Brazil isn’t just a matter of choosing any old money transfer service and going through them. In fact, you have to consider three important things:

  • transfer fees
  • exchange rates
  • transfer speeds

Having said that, let’s dive into transfer fees first.

Transfer Fees

Transfer fees are what you pay to transfer money from a bank account outside of Brazil into a bank account inside the country and usually come in three forms:

  • fixed fees
  • percentage fees
  • combination fees

The next section breaks down each one.

Fixed Fees

Fixed fees are not the only type of fees you pay for international money transfers into Brazil. But when sending large amounts of cash, they are the fees you should be going after.

A fixed fee means that no matter how much you send into the country, the fee remains the same, whether that transfer amount is US$200 or US$20,000.

One U.S. bank known for its low fixed fees is Bank of America. It only charges US$45 per international money transfer into Brazil.

With fixed fees covered, let’s move on to percentage fees.

Percentage Fees

Percentage fees are a little different than fixed fees. While fixed fees don’t change with the amount of money you transfer into Brazil, percentage fees do.

For example, if you use a money transfer service provider that charges 5 percent for international transfers, then you’d pay US$50 on a US$1,000 transfer; US$100 on a US$2,000 transfer, and so on.

This doesn’t make much sense as the transfer amount increases because you lose money.

So, only use money transfer service providers who charge percentage fees when sending under US$10,000. Wise is a good choice for expats in this case.

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However, for transfers of tens of thousands of dollars, always go with a bank transfer.

Combination Fees

Combination fees are a mixed between fixed and percentage fees, so transfers sent to Brazil under this fee structure tend to cost the most.

Some money transfer service providers who use this fee structure are PayPal and Western Union, which is why they are usually on the more expensive side for international transfers.

However, some banks charge combination fees too, so be sure to ask about their fee structure before sending money into Brazil.

With all the fee structures covered, let’s move on to exchange rates.

Exchange Rates

If you want to get the most BRL in your Brazilian bank account, look for a money transfer service provider that offers the lowest fees and the best exchange rates.

Exchange rates are the average amounts that a bank is willing to buy or sell currency for and can be found on XE.com. This is a great website to use if you want to make sure the money transfer service provider you use is offering mid-market rates.

Mid-market rates don’t always predict a higher amount on the receiving end, however. You have to consider both fees and exchange rates to walk away with the most BRL.

With transfer fees and exchange rates dusted and done, let’s move on to transfer speeds.

Transfer Speeds

Lastly, you want to think about transfer speeds when sending money to Brazil. Transfer speed is how many minutes, hours, or days it takes for your money to arrive in your Brazilian bank account.

Obviously, if you don’t have time to waste and need emergency funds, you can go with Western Union. However, be prepared to pay hefty fees and miss out on mid-market exchange rates.

If time isn’t an issue, you can use Wise, XendPay, or even a bank for that matter. You’ll get better exchange rates and pay fewer transfer fees.

If using Wise or XendPay, expect to get your money within hours if you initiate the transaction on a weekday. From Thursdays to Sundays, it takes a little longer – sometimes five days or more.

With that covered, we can now look at your options for sending money to Brazil

Money Transfer Service Options

When sending money to Brazil, you have quite a few options. I’ll cover the some of the most popular ones below.

Wise

Wise is your best choice when sending money – anything under US$10,000 – to Brazil.

For a US$1,000 transfer into the country Wise offers mid-market exchange rates and charges the following fees on top of its US$13.81 percentage fee:

  • bank debit — US$1.60 fee
  • wire transfer — US$4.14 fee

By the time your transfer hits your bank account in Brazil, you get BRL5,083.03 in your Brazilian bank account on that US$1,000 transfer if you use the bank debit method.

Check out our in-depth review of Wise to find out how it can save you money on your next international money transfer.

XendPay

XendPay is your next-best choice when sending under US$10,000 to a bank account in Brazil.

If you’re a first-time user of XendPay, you can take advantage of its “free” transfers for the first US$2,275 you send to Brazil.

Once you surpass that number, though, XendPay charges anywhere from 0.41 percent to 1.5 percent per transfer. When it comes to exchange rates, XendPay takes 2 percent to 3 percent of the mid-market exchange rates.

This means you get BRL5,058 on a US$1,000 transfer into your Brazilian bank account.

Bank Transfers

If you have to send over US$10,000 to a Brazilian bank account, then bank transfers are an affordable means of doing so.

If you’re a Citibank account holder, you pay only US$25 for international transfers into Brazil. If you’re a Citigold or Citi Priority member, you pay just US$17.50. Lastly, Citigold Private Clients get free international transfers to Brazil.

Citibank does, however, take 0.01 percent to 0.5 percent of the going mid-market exchange rates. That said, you’re transfer isn’t entirely free, but you do avoid having to pay hefty percentage transfer fees when using Citibank.

When going through Citibank, you get BRL5,037.93 for a US$1,000 transfer and BRL51,539.38 for a US$10,000 transfer.

When sending money to Brazil, this means you pay less for US$1,000 transfers but you pay more for US$10,000 transfers when using Citibank.

Xoom (PayPal)

PayPal’s Xoom is another online money transfer service provider available to expats, but be wary when using it as they tend to be more expensive than most of the other methods on this list.

If you use Xoom to send money to Brazil using your debit or credit card, you pay a US$9.99 transfer fee. If using your PayPal balance or bank account, you pay US$4.99.

It doesn’t sound too expensive yet, but then Xoom also charges a 2 percent to 4 percent exchange rate fee. In fact, on its website Xoom says that it rounds to the nearest BRL0.05 when calculating exchange rate fees.

So, on a US$1,000 transfer into Brazil through Xoom, you get BRL4,946 into the receiving bank account. Considering this, Xoom ranks just above Western Union but below Wise and XendPay.

Western Union

Western Union has been around longer than most of the other money transfer service providers on this list, but it isn’t the cheapest of the bunch.

For exchange rate fees, Western Union charges 2.5 percent of the mid-market exchange rates found on XE.com. When it comes to its transfer fees, they are as follows:

  • credit card — US$30.50
  • debit card — US$5.50
  • bank debit — US$1.99

With that, if you send US$1,000 through Western Union you get BRL4,994 in your Brazilian bank account, ranking them fairly low on this list.

In addition, Western Union caps off your transfer limits to Brazil at US$5,000 per transfer. So, if you’re planning for large purchases – like a car or condo – you’re better off using one of the other providers on this list.

ATM Withdrawals

You can withdraw cash at most Brazilian bank ATMs without being charged by the bank. However, commercial ATMs will charge you a fee. These commercial machines don’t usually have brand names on them, but rather say caixa (cash).

Regardless of which method you choose, remember that your home country bank also charges you for ATM withdrawals in Brazil. That is unless you have an account with TD Bank or Charles Schwab in the U.S. or Canada, or Metro Bank in the U.K.

These banks reimburse for all international ATM fees.

Most ATMs in Brazil have a maximum BRL1,000 withdrawal limit up to 10 pm. After 10 pm of each day, that limit is reduced to BRL500.

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Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies have been legal in Brazil since 2001.

At the time of this writing, there are 21 cryptocurrency ATMs in Brazil, most of them being in Sao Paulo. You can use these machines to exchange a variety of cryptocurrencies into BRL.

The Best Method to Send Money To Brazil

Wise is your best choice when transferring US$1,000 into your Brazilian bank account. For transfers of US$10,000 or more, use a bank transfer to get you more BRL in your receiving account.

MethodSpeedUS$1,000US$10,000
XendPay1 to 3 DaysBRL5,058BRL50,588
Wise1 to 3 DaysBRL5,083.03BRL50,895.30
Xoom1 DayBRL4,946BRL49,467
Citibank2 to 3 DaysBRL5,037.93BRL51,539.38
Western Union1 to 4 DaysBRL4,994NA

With some general recommendations out of the way, let’s dive into some country-specific advice.

Country-Specific Recommendations

When sending money to Brazil from the U.S., U.K, or Canada, here are your best choices.

United States

Wise is your most inexpensive choice for sending money from the U.S. to Brazil. On transfers under US$10,000, it will give you the most BRL to USD, dollar for dollar.

If you have to transfer US$10,000 or more, opt for Citibank. With its low international transfer fee of only US$25, it’s hard to beat.

United Kingdom

Wise is the cheapest online money transfer service provider for U.K.expats looking to send under GBP10,000 to Brazil.

For anything larger than that amount, use Lloyds Bank. It only charges GBP9.50 for all international money transfers from the U.K. into Brazil.

Canada

Wise is the best choice for Canadians who want to send under CAD10,000 into Brazil from their home country bank accounts.

When it comes to transfers of larger amounts, use RBC Royal Bank. RBC only charges CAD10 for international transfers into Brazil.

Now, on to You

By now, you should know which money transfer service method is the cheapest for sending money to Mexico.

Knowing this helps you make the best decision for your financial scenario and hopefully yields the highest amount on the receiving end.

Lastly, check out Monito before using any of the online money transfer service providers listed in this guide. They update their website every day with the latest exchange rates and transfer fees for all the popular service providers, so you can save time and money.

John Wolcott is the global editor for ExpatDen. He's a New Jersey native who now lives in Bangkok with his wife and two daughters.