Expats who are planning to stay in the country are advised to register with one of the international banks in Portugal. To get you started, here’s a list of banks and information on the banking system.
Portugal has an advanced banking system, with its main banks linked up to its national Multibanco system enabling customers to perform a range of actions from their accounts. Expats are able to open an account with a Portuguese bank with relative ease and accounts with banks in Portugal can be opened by both residents and non-residents.
This guide will look at:
- Banks in Portugal
- Portuguese banks
- The best banks in Portugal
- Opening hours of Portuguese banks
- Opening a Portuguese bank account
- Portuguese credit and debit cards
- Transferring money to a bank in Portugal
- International banks in Portugal
The Portuguese banking system is highly developed, with 23 of the country’s biggest banks (both national and international) belonging to the Portuguese Banking Association (Associacao Portuguesa de Bancos). This accounts for over 90% of the assets in the Portuguese banking system. The Banco de Portugal is the central bank in Portugal which oversees the stability of the Portuguese financial system.
Banks in Portugal are linked to the Multibanco system, established in 1985, which enables members of banks in Portugal to use ATMs for a range of purposes. These include paying bills, topping up mobile phones, buying tickets, making inter-bank transfers, and paying tax and social security contributions. In recent years, Multibanco has branched out into services for mobile phones and internet.
Portugal is a Eurozone country which means that money can be transferred into a Portuguese bank account from other Eurozone countries without incurring conversion fees. It is fairly straightforward for a foreigner to open an account in a Portuguese bank, although foreign residents can use international banks in Portugal or maintain overseas banks if they wish. However, if you have a regular salary and monthly bills, it is recommended that you have an account with a bank based in Portugal.
Banks in Portugal enable payments to be made by direct debit, debit/credit cards and bank transfers. Cheques can be used although cheque books need to be ordered by the customer. Accounts will also come with an overdraft option. See our guide to opening a bank account in Portugal for more information.
There are a number of banks in Portugal to be found on the high-street, including Banco BIC, Millenium BCP, Banif, Caixa Geral de Depositos and Novobanco. Most banks in Portugal now have online banking options too. In addition to Portuguese banks, there are many international banks in Portugal.
Most banks in Portugal offer a variety of services to individuals and businesses, including loans, savings and investment options, mortgages and a range of different insurance packages. The bigger banks will usually have English-speaking staff working there but this can’t be guaranteed so you might want to take an interpreter or a phrase book with you.
There are over 12,500 ATM machines in Portugal through the Multibanco network. These are free to use for customers of banks in Portugal. If your bank is based abroad, there may be a charge. The current daily withdrawal limit at Multibanco ATMs is EUR400.
There are three main types of account in Portuguese banks:
Current account – a standard day-to-day Portuguese bank account.
Savings account – an account with higher rates of interest, used for saving money in the short-term.
Deposit account – a Portuguese bank account with a high rate of interest, minimum deposit levels and minimum periods that funds need to be left in the account. This type of account is used for long-term savings.
Many banks in Portugal also offer special accounts for students, options for non-residents, joint accounts for couples and accounts for special purposes such as paying tax. See our guide to opening a bank account in Portugal for more information.
Here is a list of banks in Portugal.
Private retail banks in Portugal
- Banco Best
- Banco BIC
- Banco BPI
- Banco Credibom
- Banco CTT
- Banco Espirito Santo
- Banco Santander Totta
- Millenium BCP
- Novo Banco
Public retail banks in Portugal
Investment banks in Portugal
Central bank in Portugal
The standard banking hours in Portugal are 8.30am – 3.00pm, with some banks in Portugal opening until 4pm on Fridays and some opening on Saturdays. Lunchtimes and Fridays tend to be the busiest times, with mornings between 10.00 – 11.30am being the quietest times.
If you decide to open an account with a bank in Portugal, factors to consider when choosing a Portuguese bank include asking for recommendations and considering how easy it is to transfer money internationally. For a full list of things to consider click here.
The documents needed for setting up an account in a Portuguese bank differ slightly depending on whether you are from a European Union (EU)/European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) country or from outside the EU/EFTA but you will need to provide proof of ID and proof of address as a minimum requirement. You may also be asked for your Numero de Identificacao Fiscal (NIF) tax identification number. See our guide to the NIF number in Portugal for more information.
The Multibanco card issued with Portuguese banks can be used as a debit or credit card for transactions in shops, online and over the phone. The card can also be used to make international payments.
Most places in Portugal will accept international credit and debit cards (American Express, Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard, etc.) although foreign cards normally incur a charge. You will need to contact your card issuer for more information.
To report a lost or stolen Multibanco card, contact SIBS (which is the company responsible for Multibanco cards) on (+351) 21416 9314.
See our guide to opening a bank account in Portugal for more information.
International money transfers in Portugal between banks in Portugal and banks within the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland cost no more than a money transfer between two banks in Portugal, providing the money is paid in Euros and is less than EUR50,000. You will need the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and SWIFTBIC (Bank Identifier Code) for the bank that is receiving payment.
Transfers to or from outside the EU/EEA will be subject to fees applied by Portuguese banks. You will need to check with your Portuguese bank what the charge rates are to and from different countries. One option that can sometimes reduce fees is to use an online money transfer company such as TransferWise or PayPal.
There are no limits on sums of money travelling in and out of Portugal but anything above EUR50,000 needs to be declared to the Banco de Portugal central bank.