Anyway, my savings account has been working out pretty well. In Brazil, savings accounts come with debit cards, so in a lot of ways, it has the benefits of a checking account. Also, my translation clients can go directly to any branch of my bank and make a deposit into my account to pay me, which is much more convenient for them.
One problem with this piddly savings account is that I'm not allowed to use the bank's online banking system, and.... I don't receive statements, and.... I can't print out a statement that has data from more than the last 5 days, and... the guys at the desk can only print out a statement from my last 3 weeks.
This isn't so bad. I mean, I just keep a written record of what I do with my account (how 1990s) and check it with the short bank statement printouts every few days (there's a branch of the bank right by our apartment, so I walk by it at least 3 times a week).
However -- and this is a good thing and a bad thing -- my savings account gives me a relatively large amount of money in interest. It's more of a good thing than a bad thing, this free money. And it's totally random. It kind of feels like the tooth fairy. Some days it's only 47 cents, and some days it's as much as 11 reais!
So every day they deposit a little bit of "thanks for leaving your money with us" money. If you want to know why, it's because Brazilian savings accounts offer much higher interest rates than American savings accounts (considering my American savings account gives me, well, nothing).
It's just a little confusing because, with these little "presents", it's very hard to keep track of exactly how much money I have. Also, sometimes, when I make deposits or withdraws or I transfer money into Alexandre's account for something, the amount inexplicably gets divided up into 2 or 3 separate items on the bank printout list. (For example, if I make a deposit of 100 reais, sometimes it shows up as DEPOSIT: $45.36 and then another DEPOSIT: $54.64.) AND, the bank printout list doesn't say where or who is involved in the amount of money. It just says "Debit card purchase" and "deposit". So it's kind of trial and error until I can figure out which amounts add up to things I bought or the money I moved around.
Does anyone else experience things like this with their Brazilian savings accounts? Alexandre has the much sought-after (at least by me) checking account, and his deposits/withdraws show up normally, and he can access online banking, which shows exactly where the purchases were. He also gets monthly statements in the mail. Lucky!
If I don't have time to go to the bank every 5 days, it's very easy to lose track. But I guess it's worth it for a free account with such high interest payments. So far this month, I've earned over 40 reais!! That's a free sushi dinner, just for banking with them.
So if any of you long-term foreign residents have been putting off opening an account, maybe the free money can motivate you, even with the confusing statement situation.