One in ten Brazilians with a family income above ten minimum wages already has an account with a balance in foreign currency, a service that attracts consumers interested in international travel and shopping abroad, and which could gain more momentum with the reactivation of tourism after the lifting of restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. 19.
The most obvious advantages of the so-called dollar bills compared to the most common means of payment, the international credit card, are a lower IOF (tax on financial operations) rate and, in the case of travelers, the possibility of changing the exchange rate. from tourist to commercial, which costs less.
Expenses incurred abroad, be it travel or purchases on foreign websites, have a frequency of 6.38% of IOF. But if the consumer transfers the money to a bank account abroad, that cost drops to 1.1%.
It’s just a tax rule and there’s nothing new about it. Customers who have access to private banking, a banking service for the very wealthy, have long enjoyed this privilege.
However, in recent years new fintech companies have made the service more affordable. The offer appeared amid high demand for cheaper means of payment for purchases at foreign e-stores.
Among the pioneers in Brazil, C6 Bank started offering its account in dollars in December 2019. A year later, it started offering the service in euros.
The intention was precisely to remove middle- and high-income clients from the big banks who were dissatisfied with the costs of doing business abroad, says Maxnaun Gutierrez, head of consumer products at C6 Bank.
“We found through research that it was a pain for the customer,” comments Gutierrez. One who travels or has a child studying abroad, and also with the entry of foreign sites such as Shopee and Alibaba, commented.
The survey commissioned by C6 Bank for Ipec, the survey mentioned at the beginning of the text shows that 12% of the class A and B population already has the service. If only class A is taken into account, whose family income exceeds 20 minimum wages according to IBGE criteria, the acceptability of the product increases to 20%.
This survey also found that 35% of people with a foreign exchange account sought the service to save on travel and 27% to make a purchase. Another 26% wanted to transfer money out of the country.
Gutierrez says the growth of foreign currency accounts is just beginning. The room for improvement, he says, is the size of the part of this population that still does not have an account in dollars or euros.
“You still have practically 90% [das classes A e B] who are not familiar with the product,” he says. “The costs for this audience, even if they travel abroad every three years, are very high.”
Get away to avoid paying the most expensive IOF of the trip, buying the currency here in Brazil has a rate of 1.1%. The rule is the same as for the dollar account, explains tax lawyer Diogo Olm Ferreira, from the VBSO office.
The cost is lower because in this case it is cheaper to use the money abroad and not for imported goods. “It makes sense from the point of view of the logic of tax legislation,” says Ferreira.
But traveling with large amounts of cash is of course risky and ultimately more bureaucratic. When leaving Brazil with more than BRL 10,000, every traveler is required to complete an e-DBV (electronic declaration of goods for travelers) and submit it to customs inspection.
In addition, there is the cost of the tourist dollar, which also applies to prepaid cards and even to remittance services for foreign purchases offered by exchange offices.
Based on quotes from the CMA’s commercial advisory on Friday (23), the commercial dollar closed at R$5.248. Tourism, 5430 R$. The price of the traveler’s currency increases by 3.4% in this comparison, although the difference may vary depending on the price found at each exchange.
The ease of opening a dollar account is also an attraction. Aloisio Matos, Inter’s director of international services, says the foreign exchange account is integrated into the digital banking application.
In the case of Inter, an original document with a photo that is within its validity period is required, which can be RG, CNH or RNE (registration of foreigners). Just photograph the documents. The process is similar in other institutions in the field.
Lower rates than those offered by conventional banks were also described as advantages by C6 Bank, Inter, Wise and Nomad, institutions that responded to an inquiry by Sheet. But this is somewhat more difficult to verify.
Banks tend to spread fees and charges across different types of services or vary rates according to the value of the transaction. A company that, for example, does not charge a fee for opening an account, can include this cost in issuing a card. In the check carried out by the report on the websites and the answers of the mentioned companies, this type of variation also appeared.
Price averaging can reduce exchange costs
“The exchange rate exists to make economists humble,” says Fernanda Mello, a financial planner at Planor (the Brazilian Association for Financial Planning), echoing a well-known joke in the financial world. “It’s the most unpredictable variable in the economy,” he says.
As it is practically impossible to guess the lowest price for the fall of the dollar or the euro, the solution for those who intend to travel in the short term is to take advantage of certain moments of the fall to buy foreign currency. , according to the expert.
The regular purchase of foreign currency enables the construction of the average price of the exchange rate.
It’s easier to explain with an example: someone who transfers equal amounts to an account abroad every first working day of the month since the beginning of the year has made an average exchange rate of 5.06 BRL to the dollar. If you made one transfer on Friday (23rd), the fee would be 5.25 BRL per dollar.
Mello says international accounts are really the best alternative for this use. “There is the convenience of transit only with a card, or even a virtual card on a mobile phone, without the passenger having to carry paper money to have a lower price,” he says.
For those planning a trip over a longer time horizon, the planner suggests that those interested consider investing in foreign currency. “It’s an interesting option because it allows you to keep the purchasing power in the foreign currency, whether it’s the dollar or the euro.”