Changing or getting money during carnival can be more difficult than you could EVER imagine. Here are some things you should know.

Cash: US Dollars, Euros, Britsh Pounds, etc. It is virtually impossible to change foreign currency once carnival starts on Thursday, 2/23/17. The exchanges and banks that perform this function all shut. If you can find someone to change them, a hotel, the airport, etc., you WILL get a lousy exchange rate.

Traveler’s Checks: Don’t bring them! Nobody wants them as everybody is afraid of signature fraud. If you can find someone to change them, it will be at a terrible exchange rate. 

Debit cards/Credit cards: Just like back at home, using the ATM machine is the best way to get your money, or at least, the way to get the best exchange rate. Many banks - Citibank, HSBC, Banco do Brazil, Bradesco - will allow you to use your debit card or credit card to draw on your accounts back at home via the Plus, Cirrus, Star system. Not all of the ATM machines at the bank will work with your card. Look for the machines that have the Plus, Cirrus, Star system symbols on the front of them.

CALL YOUR BANK BEFORE TRAVELING!!!!! Let them know the dates when you will be using your debit card/credit card in Brazil. It’s not uncommon for the bank’s computer systems to automatically block cards as a security precaution after detecting unusual activity (like the card being used in Brazil). If you let your bank know beforehand that you’ll be traveling to Brazil, you may be able to save yourself the headache of having to contact your bank in the middle of carnival to unblock your card.

For what it’s worth, I’ve noticed during recent carnivals that getting money from an ATM machine can also be maddeningly difficult. Why is this? If I had to guess, I’d say that due to the heavy volume of transactions being made either 1) the machines run out of money (and since it’s carnival, nobody cares about getting them re-capitalized) or 2) the withdrawal action is so thick that the systems can’t handle the traffic, and crash. Either way, get ready to suffer likely frustration!

 

So, I would suggest the following:

  1. If you are arriving in Salvador from another location in Brazil, get your Brazilian reais there, and bring them with you to Salvador. 

While here in Salvador, if you find an ATM machine that is functioning, think long term. Don’t just take out enough money to last you the day. Take out a substantial quantity that will last a couple of days. Better yet, have the rest of your group do the same.  This way, if the ATM machines run dry, between all of you, you’ll have enough money to carry you. Most machines only allow a daily maximum withdrawal of anywhere from BR$600 to BR$1,000 and it may be that your bank card has Brazilian limits which allow you to draw even less.

 

ATM MACHINES (where to get money during carnival)

All banks shut on Friday, 2/24/17 and won’t reopen until the afternoon of Wednesday, 3/1/17. Here is a list of banks where you will likely find a “co-operative” ATM machine, that is to say, one that will work with your international debit or credit card and which will likely still function during Carnival.

BANCO DO BRASIL

BANCO DO BRASIL (GRACA)
LARGO DA GRACA 11 - GRACA
SALVADOR – BAHIA
MAP: Click for Map

BANCO DO BRASIL (COMERCIO)
AVENIDA ESTADOS UNIDOS 561 - COMERCIO
SALVADOR – BAHIA
MAP: Click for Map

BANCO DO BRASIL (PELOURINHO)
LARGO DO CRUZEIRO DE SAO FRANCISCO 9 - PELOURINHO
SALVADOR – BAHIA
MAP: Click for Map

BANCO DO BRASIL (BARRA)
RUA MIGUEL BURNIER 59 LJ 1 - BARRA
SALVADOR – BAHIA
MAP:Click for Map

 

HSBC

HSBC BANK BRASIL (BARRA)
RUA MARQUES DE CARAVELAS 355 - BARRA
SALVADOR - Bahia
MAP: Click for Map

HSBC BANK BRASIL (COMERCIO)
AVENIDA ESTADOS UNIDOS 528 - COMERCIO
SALVADOR - BAHIA
MAP:Click for Map

 

BRADESCO

BANCO BRADESCO (BARRA)
RUA MARQUES DE CARAVELAS 412 - BARRA
SALVADOR - BAHIA
MAP: Click for Map

BANCO BRADESCO (GRACA)
AVENIDA EUCLYDES DA CUNHA 10 - GRACA
SALVADOR - BAHIA
MAP: Click for Map

BANCO BRADESCO (Centro Historico)
RUA CHILE 23 - CENTRO
SALVADOR – BAHIA
MAP:Click for Map

BANCO BRADESCO (CANELA)
RUA JOAO DAS BOTAS 195 - CANELA
SALVADOR – BAHIA
MAP: Click for Map

BANCO BRADESCO (COMERCIO)
AVENIDA ESTADOS UNIDOS 26 - COMERCIO
SALVADOR - BAHIA
MAP: Click for Map

 

CITIBANK

CITIBANK (ONDINA)
AVENIDA PRESIDENTE VARGAS, 1865
ONDINA, SALVADOR, BAHIA

CITIBANK (near SHOPPING IGUATEMI)
RUA TANCREDO NEVES, 1189
IGUATEMI, SALVADOR, BAHIA

 

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