Recommended By

Milan Sime Martinic

Date Recommended

25 Jan 2022

Date Updated

25 Jan 2022


International Credit/Debit Card Problems Paying for Flights

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Getting Around


So, you found the perfect deal in a Brazilian website, it is the airfare that makes that crucial trip possible. You move to make the purchase, enter your details, you are about the reap the rewards of your savvy search on Google-Brasil. Then comes the box that asks you for your CPF, then CEP- A black hole for an unsuspecting foreigner. Even if you have those, they must match the billing information for your credit card. Without the right answers your transaction will just not go through. Of course, if you have a Brazilian credit card you will have no problem answering those two crucial questions. But what if all you have is your international card?

For the purposes of this advice, we will focus on getting the transaction done and not the costs in fees and foreign exchange spreads. We shall save those for another day.
So, now you are in panic. The deal only lasts a few hours and your foreign card does not fit into the website’s loss-prevention functions. Here’s what you can do:
Paypal now processes online payments for purchases made in Brazil. Check to see if the website offers the option to use Paypal.

Some websites also have options to pay using a digital wallet like ApplePay or GooglePay. Those will allow your payment to go through. Whether you know it or not, your phone may already have you set up with these.

If you are familiar with Zelle in the US, a Brazilian central bank service called PIX has caught-on like wildfire in the last 18 months going from zero to nearly all Brazilians now using it to transfer money cost-free. See if the website has an option to pay via PIX. Similar to Zelle, you can use the receiver’s cell phone, email, CPF, or in the case of websites, their CNPJ.

Another option is to pay by Boleto, a UPC bar code generated by the site that allows you to scan it an pay directly from your bank account. If the scanner on your phone fails, you have a maddeningly large set of numbers to enter, be sure the recipent matches with the amount and site you are trying to use.
If you are patient enough to contact a representative either by chat or by phone, you can request a link for an international credit card payment. Most large Brazilian businesses have a relationship with for just that purpose, get the link in your email and pay as if you were home.
If it turns out all those options fail to work for you, you can always try to duplicate the itinerary and airline by searching in a US-based site like Orbitz. I have often found the same or better price there and, of course, checkout is a breeze.

A last resort is for you to take your reservation and head to a local travel agency. They should have no trouble running your card... unless international connections are fickle, in case only the CIELO-brand credit card machines will connect.

Von voyage!

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