To open a bank account as a foreigner in Brazil is not very easy. You need at least a CPF and a long-term visa like a work-visa or a permanent-visa with CIE. For tourists it is impossible to open a bank account in Brazil.
There are two different types of bank accounts for people who fulfill the above criterea (pessoas físicas):
* Conta corrente (Checking account)
* Conta de poupança (Savings account)
The main differences are, that for the conta corrente you will need a regular income and many banks ask for the minimum income that will be deposited in the account each month, usually between R$ 500 and 700. With a conta corrente you will receive checks and a debit-card to withdraw cash from the banks ATM´s or the Banco24horas ATM´s and you can apply for a credit card as well. If you just open a savings account, you will only receive a normal bankcard to deposit and withdraw cash from the banks ATM´s. No checks, no debit-card and no credit card.
ATM´s are very popular in Brazil. You will find them in every shopping center, in boxes on streets in commercial areas of larger cities, in universities and many public buildings. ATM´s are used to withdraw and deposit money, pay bills like phone, water, light, cellular-phone, credit card or any other bill that has a bar code on it. Via the ATM´s bar-code reader you can also pay the so called Boletos bancários which is a kind of payment form often used on the Internet when doing e-commerce to allow you to pay in a safe way for services or products you bought on the Internet. Of course you can check the status of your account on the ATM as well as transferring money from your account to any other account within the same bank. You can also recharge your cell phone with new credits. In the agencies of many banks there are also ATM´s available to print your checks.
The bank-fees and charges for the service of the bank are different in each bank. Usually you pay a monthly fee that includes a certain number of checks and account-statements. If you print more checks or account-statements during a month you have to pay extra for this service.
Besides the service via ATM´s most banks nowadays offer Internet-banking for the clients, even for clients with a simple savings account. Usually you have to go to the agencies where you opened the account to apply for the Internet-banking service. Using Internet-banking you can do all the operations offered by an ATM offers besides money-transfers to accounts in other banks (e.g. Banco do Brasil to Itaú, etc.)
My personal experience is that you need a lot of patience to open a bank account in Brasil. It usually depends on the mood of the bank-manager if he will open the account for you. Some banks are only interested in having clients with a regular income of a certain minimum and many banks only open accounts for foreigners if they have a permanent-visa or a job in Brazil.
You need to go to many banks until you find a bank-manager who is prepared to open an account for you. If you are married to a Brazilian citizen, you can try to open an account together with your Brazilian spouse, which could be easier than trying to get an account just for yourself.
Like many things in Brazil you are dependent on the manager or the official you are dealing with. It might sound weird but that’s the way things work in Brazil, if you can get into a nice, friendly conversation with the manager or official it will make things much easier. Things will be possible that weren’t possible in a different bank or with a different official. Try to find a common subject (soccer, sports, cars, children, etc.) to talk with the manager/official before starting the subject you are “really” interested in.