The Brazilian Consumption Card

The bars and clubs in Brazil have a weird system. In the U.S. you simply order a drink and then pay for it when it’s served to you, but in Brazil you have to give them your consumption card when you order. Here’s an example of a consumption card:


They put a hash mark in the box next to your drink and then they seve you. At the end of the night, you give your card to a cashier, pay the total, and get a stamp needed to exit. It sounds efficient but there are three problems:

1. You will lose your card. A lost card is an automatic 200 reals ($120—and increasing) charge. A lot of gringos waxed about drinking more than 200 reals worth of booze and losing their card on purpose to scam the system, but I did not meet anyone who attempted this. (I found it amusing that whenever a guy shared this idea he thought he was a genius for coming up with it.) A vodka drink is around 8 reals so you’d have to get consume 25 mixed drinks to get there. A beer is usually under 5 reals.

2. Long lines. When you want to leave after 2am or so, the line can be painfully long. It’s like you’re trapped. If you only ordered two drinks, you will usually wait much longer than the time it took to order and pay for two drinks.

3. Rip-off friendly. The amount I paid was almost always higher than what I added up. (One of the reasons the line moves so slow is because half the people are challenging the final amount.) Sometimes the cover charge goes towards your drinking but other times it doesn’t. Transparency is lacking.

This system reminded me of Salta, Argentina, where you had to carry the same glass with you all night long. When you leave they ask you for your glass and if you don’t have it you have to pay something like a 50 cent charge. It was common to see guys tearing it up on the dance floor with a cocktail glass in their back pocket.

One more thing. Remember when I wrote that Brazilians refer to spooning as “lying like oysters?” I was close—it’s actually to lie like seashells. With the Brazilian girls I met in Rio, I can confirm this as 100% fact.


  1. Beach Bum March 19, 2008 at 10:34 am

    “Conchinha” I guess, it’s called? Now it makes sense!

    Most places have a “minimum consumption” which basically means you’ll get charged a minimum of amount (let’s say $30) whether you drink or not, so you can drink up to $30, and pay the same price, but if you drink less than that, you still have to pay $30 — so technically you only start paying for individual drinks once you reach the amount of the “minimum consumption”. I’m cheap, so I always find out what it is, and drink up to that. It tends to be more for guys though.

    That might be why it doesn’t add up at the end of the night — if you don’t know what the minimum consumption is, you might not be reaching it…

    Beach Bum’s last blog post: Let me put my face on….

  2. Matt Savage March 19, 2008 at 10:54 am

    That strategy of purposely losing the card seems ridiculous. They think they’re gaming the system by consuming an almost lethal amount of alcohol….WTF!! My guess is that these guys got so drunk that they only imagined that they drank that much.

    Matt Savage’s last blog post: How NOT to Seduce a Stripper.

  3. roissy March 19, 2008 at 10:55 am

    vapiano in dupont circle does a similar system, with a red credit card you get upon entering which the bartender scans every time you order a drink. you pay on the way out. i find it annoying.

    roissy’s last blog post: A Deposed Queen.

  4. Anonymous March 19, 2008 at 11:40 am

    I came across your blog recently and find it pretty entertaining. I was wondering something. Do you have some alternate identity that you use when you are out there trying to shag girls? I am assuming that if they ask you what you do for a living, you don’t tell them that you are basically unemployed except for the royalties from your book about how to screw women.

    I’m not judging, just wondering how all that plays out, in my experience chicks that aren’t total tramps are usually more interested in people with lives than people who are professional bar flies.

    Anyway I was just wondering how all that works out.

  5. Arjewtino March 19, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Nothing like a dim sum-style of paying at a foreign bar to make you miss the U.S.

    Though I can see Westerners griping about this payment system, how do the locals feel about it? I imagine they don’t care because they’re used to it.

    Arjewtino’s last blog post: Ten percent of a million visitors can?t be wrong.

  6. Peter March 19, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Red Bull’s expensive in Brazil, I see.

  7. Jewcano March 19, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    I really don’t see how this is much more inconvenient than running up a tab. Then again, I make a point to pay in cash. That way I can decide how much I’m drinking by how much I carry. It also doesn’t seem any worse than a nightclub in winter with a poorly staffed coat check.

    Couldn’t you just cash out and get stamped early?

    Jewcano’s last blog post: Always Have Someone Proofread Your Work.

  8. Roosh March 19, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    “Do you have some alternate identity that you use when you are out there trying to shag girls?”

    I just omit information. I tell them I am bum that lives with my dad and am considering writing a book on my travels. But I don’t tell them I have a blog or I already wrote a book.

    If I date a girl who already knows about the blog then there is less paranoia as I don’t have to hide information.

  9. Spud Mack March 20, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Simple solution would be to go with a few friends and run all the tab up on one card only which you will convieniently lose at the end of the night. All the other cards will be minimum cost and the one for $120 you can just divide amongst your friends no matter who drank how much.

  10. craig of March 20, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Roosh — what I could never figure out is what happens when you go to pay for your bill and you’ve drank more than you have in cash.

    This is the biggest failure of the drink now, pay later method. If I only take US$50 out to drink, get shitty, and find myself leaving the club with a $60 tab an no wingman to help me out, what do you do?

    craig of’s last blog post: Room Switch.

  11. Brandon November 30, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Yeah, Brazil’s bars have a super lame system. One of the bars I went to you had to stand in a line and buy tickets for whatever drinks you wanted, then you had to stand in line at the bar. It makes no sense. I also went to a place where it was $R500 if you lost your card. Super lame. I think when your cost didn’t add up you were probably getting ripped off because you were a gringo.

  12. Neil from Brazil November 11, 2009 at 11:44 am

    A good number of places are using a magnetic card – like credit cards.

    Still annoying.

    But there is an interesting dynamic envolving it:

    Sometimes, the girl will hand it to you – “its my call”. The real difference is, it avoids the awkward situation envolving paper money.

    The consumption card is an abstract value. Paper money is graphic, obvious, and embarassing. When drinks are being paid one-at-one-in-live-cash, the likelyhood of a girl paying drinks will decrease a lot (a least in Brazil).

    On the other hand, its not too rare to see her getting you both drinks on her card.

    Beware: brazilian girls wont pay some drinks “because you are a prize”. Its more likely flattery from hers.

    Flattery is a common game played by brazilian girls, some sort of “positive reinforcement”: return the flattery, and you just failed a shit test.

    Whenever its no clear to her whether you are an alfa or beta, and she need an ultimate answer, flattery will work as a bait. The bigger your urge to reciprocate, the more beta you will be.

  13. Anonymous December 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Neil, this is not true.
    A girl would never think you’re a beta cause you bought her a drink, very much the contrary. It doesnt matter what country you’re in.