Problems with paying in stores with international cards

Has anyone managed to resolve the problem with debit and credit card machines in stores and restaurants here? The machine doesn't recognise the cards and yet they atm's do. My partner is worried about me carrying cash and she ends up using her card and then I pay her back, she doesn't like cash so this is a problem for us.


i was once told a ‘trick' which works for me: using  US issued debit card, when making a purchase, advise the store it's a credit card.

Hope this helps

Has anyone managed to resolve the problem with debit and credit card machines in stores and restaurants here? The machine doesn't recognise the cards and yet they atm's do. My partner is worried about me carrying cash and she ends up using her card and then I pay her back, she doesn't like cash so this is a problem for us.
Many dining and smaller stores use WiFi and have issues connecting with some of their machines. I went to one store to buy an item and was rejected, then to their second larger store and no issues.

I never use a debit card in stores or dining. I just do not trust anyone having access to my bank

I am not an IT guy but that's one opinion.

@BrasilNY I always tell them and many ask if its credit or debit, thanks for the reply.

Zero problems using credit cards in stores. I have a variety from the US but both are geared towards international stuff. Sometimes there's a hiccup where the small machines request a pin and if your cards don't require one it won't go through. Some of the machines don't work and they simply grab a different one. I also use Apple Pay and this essentially always works. The huge issue is ordering anything online since it requires a cpf and Brazilian address and gets rejected internally I think because basically they don't want fraud involving foreign cards for online purchases.

@Texanbrazil I use the credit card Texan and this is the same result, it doesn't recognise the card Zaffari supermercado had to try several machines and they eventualy found one that worked, we spent the weekend in Santa Catarina and only Atm's recognised the card there

all foreign cards are considered CREDITO in brazil, even if debit in issuing country...

generally, cannot use foreign cards online on brazilian sites...


I'm with TexanBrazil - no debit cards in foreign locations (unless absolutely necessary for some unseen reason).  I don't even use a debit card here in the US.  No need for others to have direct access to my checking account plus credit cards typically offer protection.

As far as I can recall, I've never had a problem using a credit card in Brazil (or elsewhere I've been - Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia). 

If your credit card(s) aren't geared for international use, you may need to inform the issuer that you'll be using elsewhere.  Many years ago, that seemed standard procedure.  Today, alot of card companies don't really want pre-notification.  And you probably know this, get credit card(s) w/o international transaction fees if you can.

@madrac I travel extensively for my work and have always had problems here, Argentina is ok I am hoping Uruguay will be OK, I guess here I will have to carry cash and take the risk.

10/11/22  I'm with Tex and madrac on foreign debit cards:  I only use mine to obtain BRL, and only at secure indoor ATMs on bank premises.

As for foreign credit cards, I've never found a 100% satisfactory solution.  The closest I've come is with a MasterCard flagged credit card that's accepted about 95% of the time.  The times that it's rejected, though, always seem to be when I really need it, like for a big purchase.

I got a wise card. Only ever kept $150 USD on it. Never used wireless function on mobile card processing machines esp. out in public. Always inserted the card and as previously stated, always ran it as “crédito” Never got rejected. If lost or stolen they don't have potential access to my US bank, only can use the limit of funds I'm holding on the card, and easily locked on an online app. Previously stated benefits in another post of reduced fees when making ATM withdraws. Best of both worlds. I highly recommend It worked great for me.

@duzzimenino Its a great idea, problem is I think they will need to send the card to my home address in Portugal?

@ltoby955 Yes, that is an issue. I received mine in the US.

@duzzimenino I have just registered with wise and they will deliver to a friend's address but it seems not to Brazilian addresses.

@ltoby955 Bummer. So you are having them send it to a friend in the US and then your friend forwards the card to you?


Sometimes the chip readers do not want to work, just slide them. Run debit cards as credit. After my 14 years in Brasil using US cards, I have never had an actual problem

Hi thanks for the reply, I popped the card inside the machine and it still wouldn't work.

@duzzimenino Hi I am from Portugal but I could try that. Thanks

i have the same problem. if the machine is yellow small with the 3g symbol it dosnt work it has to be the blue machine or black machine cielo works for international card.

@itoby955  That's a bummer that you have issues with your cards.  The only time I remember having an issue was in Germany (I think) with American Express....although the establishment said they took it, they didn't want to (probably because of the higher fees).  Discover isn't widely accepted either.  So, I just carry Visa / Mastercard internationally. 

10/13/22 @madrac.  Discover isn't widely accepted in Brazil either, unfortunately.

All my cards are Visa and have worked in every country except Brazil. Great to know that the problem is mainly the yellow machines.

I've been in Brazil for almost 2 years now, i exclusively use American credit cards for all physical purchases. I have both the American Express Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve cards. I have never had a problem with the Chase Reserve (visa) for payments. The Amex is hit or miss.

Tap to pay (aproximação) almost never works so i don't even bother anymore. Yellow machines give more problems with amex than visa but I've never not been able to pay with my credit cards. Brazil is considered a high risk country for international spenders so my guess si that maybe your bank may be blocking these transactions, you should call to confirm if you haven't already.

Any disputed transaction from Brazil to my banks goes uncontested because of common issues with fraud and theft in Brazil

@okcummings Hi thanks for the reply the bank isn't blocking as mentioned in my post the atm's work fine I.e the Santander machines it's the in-store and the previous poster mentioned the blue machines which I now ask for and are 4g, they work fine. I have also managed to get a wise card sent to friends who will then forward it to me.

@ltoby955  I use an International Wise Debit card, but it only works if you tell the vendor it is a "credito".   I have also used several US issued credit cards and they work fine.  The only problem is that if you have a pin on the debit card and they use as credit, that bypasses the need to input the pin.  Never, ever hand the card over to somebody to insert into the card machine.  Just do it yourself.

In Portugal they wait next to you in the queue to see your pin and then try to take your card whilst you finish packing your things, it's best to always cover the machine not just at ATM's but also in the store.


I have the exact opposite problem - only Bradesco ATMs accepts one of my four cards (no ATMs at all accept any of my others) but they almost always work on EFTPOS machines. The trick - as somebody else already noted - is that international debit cards must usually (if not always) be put through as credit cards.

my UK card only works in some banks in Brazil. Banco Brasil cards have a 6 digit pin and so cards with a 4 digit pin don't work in their machines. It works fine in Bradesco. It works in the shops but only with chip and pin (as others have said here, all foreign cards are processed as credit regardless of whether they are a debit card in the issuing country)

@edrosamond I have to say that it works with a four digit pin but it has to be with 4g machines such as the blue one, mine works fine on these and all ATM's

@ltoby955 I am sure she has a good reason for not wanting to carry cash. After my last credit card scam where they (probably a grocery store) used it to withdraw money from a Rio ATM when I live far north of Fortaleza, I am cash only. If something happens they only have the cash on hand whereas with a credit card they can access as much money as they can from your account. Also try getting a replacement card in Brazil.

Roddie in Retirement🕵🏽

Before moving here I got a wise card. I use it instead of cards tied to my bank accounts. I transfer smaller sums onto it $250-300 and enjoy the convenience. Once I get residency I will use the same strategy with nubank or C6 and enjoy even more perks with PIX.

I have a Citi MasterCard that l have used in various states in Brazil without issue. I did have one odd occurrence where my wife's card was not accepted, but mine was. It's odd in that it's the same account. We tried her's with both the chip and swiped. No go. Mine worked with the chip reader the first time.

@KenAquarius It very rarely works with the chip here, I've used that once, and I now explain it's an international card and it needs to go in the machine, they get it now, and the blue machines seem to work way better, I believe they are 4g and the orange seem to be 3g.  Have a great Christmas and New Year.

Citi Bank has been absorbed by Itau, and the paying Flag ( ViSA or Mastercard ) allows payment settlements to go through. 

You might also have some luck with Santander ( the Old Sovereign Bank ).

If you are going to use plastic here, might as well get a checking account at a local bank.

And avoid these fly by the seat of pants banks. Stick with the Big 5, or any bank with considerable Brick and Mortar presence.