Parcel your purchase in three installments without interest on your Credit Card
Minimum Installment R$5.00 (US$2.47 on 08/26/12)
When I started working at Melon Exporters S.A. in the early 1990s, I earned an impressive seven-figure monthly salary, the equivalent of six minimum salaries at that time. Those were the days when we struggled with hyperinflation. A year later, the Brazilian Central Bank chopped off three zeroes from the cruzeiro in circulation and introduced the cruzeiro real.
One of my challenges as a working solo mom was keeping my two sons in a good school: a safe environment with qualified teachers. At the beginning of every school year, text books, school materials, and school attire stretched my budget to bursting point. Several major retail stores offered in-store credit to customers with a good credit history. I needed a chance to build my credit history. Help came from a work colleague. During our lunch break, she took me to a school supplies retailer where she knew someone in the credit department. With her vouching for my credit worthiness, I obtained approval for my first purchase with payment in three installments.
Payment with installments (pagamento parcelado) is also available using checks and credit cards. The buyer issues pre-dated checks (cheque pré-datado) of equal value, really post-dated checks, in the name of the store or individual with payment-due dates over the three- to six-month period, for example: 08/26/12, 09/26/12, and 10/26/12. Avoiding non-payment of pre-dated checks for insufficient funds was crucial to building a good record.
Credit card companies also offer purchases in three or more equal installments, charged monthly on your credit card account. In the captioned ad, the online store offers three payments without interest charges (sem juros). This is not always the case. Full payment (pagamento à vista) at time of purchase could be cheaper by 15 percent or more, depending on consumer credit interest rates. During Brazil’s period of hyperinflation, the difference could be over 40 percent.
Opening a checking account proved a difficult task. When I approached the desk of the New Accounts Manager at the bank where I maintained a savings account, he sized me up from my shoes to my face. My paycheck was not enough. He wanted to see my Income Tax Return for the previous year.
At the bank across the street, I needed an introduction from a customer of good standing. Happily, the accountant at Melon Exporters was a customer of the bank. Later that week, she went with me to the bank to open my first Brazilian checking account.
Months later, when the company started doing business with the Bank of the State of Ceará (privatized in 2005), the Branch Manager invited me to open a checking account. I did not even have to go into the bank. A year later, he offered me a credit card account.
My work colleagues were good people who looked out for one another. With their guidance, I learned the art of surviving on a fixed wage while living expenses soared daily.