Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Use a Cash Machine In Brazil

I find going to the ATM here amusing. First off, I didn't really get cash from ATMs in the states, so I'm at a bit of a deficit. We used our credit cards for everything (Matt is even guilty of using it for purchases under $1), so that we could get points and then get things like gift cards at Old Navy, free plane tickets for Matt to take the Filarmônica audition in New York (thanks American Express), and my personal favorite, about $500 in rebate checks a year. We were good at working the credit card perks. But here, not as many places take credit cards, so we need to take out cash every so often. We also live no where near our agency, or the actual bank location where we signed up for our account. The orquestra graciously helped us get our account, but at a location that is convenient for them (makes sense). However in Brasil, most of your transactions of any significance (adding a spouse to your account, changing your address, getting a credit card, and making deposits at the counter) have to occur at your agency. Thankfully, we learned that you can make deposits (both of cash and checks) at an ATM, and you can make payments for bills at ATMs. And there is a branch about a 10 minute walk from our house. For the first two months, only Matt had a debit card and then eventually a credit card, so I had to rely on him to take care of our banking. When I finally got my debit and credit card, I got so excited that I decided to try it out to make sure it worked (a smart idea for anything here), and withdrew $10 R. So I approach the screen, and it goes something like this:

put in your atm card and quickly take it out.
then put your card back in.
then enter your password.
then request to take out money.
then the machine spits out your card, but tells you to put it back in.
then enter your password again.
and then you get your money.

Thankfully Matt warned me about this putting in and taking out game, or else I would have been utterly lost!

But today, the ATM machine won.

I have a few students that like to pay with checks. How to write a check in Brasil is a whole other post, and I honestly haven´t got there yet, because I couldn´t tell you what you have to do (make a grid in the corner? and something about if you deposit it in your account or if you use it to get cash...?). I have successfully deposited checks before, but it´s only been one at a time. All you do is the above process (taking and putting debit card) and put the check in an envelope and voila! You don´t even have to sign it, or write your account number on it or anything. Well, today I had two checks, and I determined using my own logic that they should be deposited separately. After depositing one check, the bank decided it didn´t want my money. It kept asking for my account number, which I´m not a number memorizer, and how was I supposed to know it was on the back of the debit card? Hello, I used to work in the fraud department at Chase! Why would you think it would be a good idea to put your account number on the card you use to withdraw your money?! Then it was asking me for the month of my birthday, and my cat's weight and the square root of 59847, and I decided to give up. That's when the machine started beeping REALLY loud, and a red screen of death appeared which said, "this machine is being serviced." I then heard someone banging on the machine from behind the wall! Funny how Mr. ATM Machine Servicer didn't notice that I was using the machine. So, unfortunately I have to return to the ATM tomorrow, but thankfully it will be with yet another check from yet another student. I'm hoping that I will win this game tomorrow...


  1. Shelley,

    Ack, I hate everything to do with banks in Brazil!! I avoid it like the plague. Deposit all the checks at once in the same envelope, it is easier. Also, aren´t you set up to pay the bills on-line? It is SO much easier! If you did not get an internet pin (it is 8 digits instead of 6) at the time Matt opened the account, you will have to go back there, but it is worth it to not deal with the ATM (or all the people who decide on their lunch break to pay 15 bills and do it SLOWLY).

  2. Wow, your ATM sounds complicated. Luckily, we don't have too many ATM issues in South Korea and I love the being able to pay bills through my ATM like you were mentioning. It is so convenient.