Banks in Portugal

Portugal is known for its highly developed banking system. There are over 150 banks in the country, which includes a variety of Portugal’s mobile banks as well as public and cooperative banks, private national retail banks, and international banks.

If you’re going to live in Portugal, opening a bank account in the country will be very beneficial and practical for you. In this article, you can find information about banking in Portugal, the best bank in Portugal for expats, and information about banks in Portugal.

Essential Information About Banking in Portugal

Banco de Portugal is the central monetary authority in Portugal that regulates banks. The European System of Central Banks includes it as a member (ESCB).

Portugal’s main banks are linked up to the national Multibanco.

Both the European Union and the eurozone include Portugal as a member. The Euro (€) has been the official currency of the nation since 1999.

Portugal uses the euro as its standard currency for banking accounts and transactions. Additionally, opening foreign currency accounts is an option.

The nation is home to more than 150 financial institutions, including cooperative, investment, and mobile banks as well as public and private retail banks. There are also many international banks.

The majority of Portuguese banks are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Portugal Banks

Portugal’s extensive banking system boasts national and international institutions, as well as digital banks. We’ve listed some of the main ones below.

National Private Banks

There are numerous private high street banks in Portugal that provide a variety of current accounts. The most popular national private retail banks include:

  • Banco Best
  • BPI Bank Portugal
  • BancoBIC
  • Millennium BCP Portugal
  • Santander Totta
  • Novobanco Portugal

Public Banks

Founded in 1876, Caixa Geral de Depositos (CGD) is the only public bank in Portugal. Retail banking, business banking, investment banking, venture capital, asset management, specialized credit, and insurance are all activities of CGD. The group also conducts real estate business and offers financial advisory services and shareholding management.

If you’re looking for the best bank in Portugal for foreigners, CGD can be an option.

Digital Banks

In recent years, a number of online and mobile banks have emerged, enabling customers to open an account and conduct banking activities using their smartphones or laptops. N26 and Revolut are popular digital banks in the country.

International Banks

In Portugal’s larger urban areas, you can find a number of international banks. They frequently provide a variety of expat-friendly services. Some of these international banks include:

  • Deutsche Bank
  • Oney Bank
  • Citibank
  • BNP Paribas
  • Bankinter
  • WiZink

Best Banks in Portugal

As we’ve previously mentioned, the banking system in Portugal is quite developed and there are many banks in the country. You can find some of the best banks in Portugal in the table below.

Bank  Type
Caixa Geral de Depositos National (Public)
Millennium BCP Portugal National
Banco BPI National
Santander Bank Portugal National
Novobanco Portugal National
Banco Montepio National
Banco Bai Europa National
Activo Bank National
Banco Invest National
Deutsche Bank International
N26 International – Digital Bank only
Oney Bank International
Citibank International
BNP Paribas International
Bankinter International
WiZink International

Services Offered by Portugal Banks

The majority of banks in Portugal provide both individuals and businesses with a range of services. We’ve listed the most common ones below.

1. Current accounts: There are available regular everyday accounts. These consist of premium accounts with a wider selection of credit card options as well as accounts specifically designed for students or young people.

2. Loans and Overdrafts: Accounts with an overdraft option are available. The majority of banks provide personal loans for unforeseen expenses, vacations, and home improvements.

3. Mortgages: Fixed and variable rate mortgages are available in Portugal through the lending facilities of the majority of Portuguese banks.

4. Savings and investments: these can take the form of Portuguese pension plans, investment funds, high-interest savings, and time deposit accounts.

5. Digital banking: All of Portugal’s major banks provide online banking, which gives you 24/7 access to your account.

Payment Methods in Portugal

1. Cash 

Portugal’s most common payment method is cash because not all locations accept credit or debit cards. Money can be withdrawn at nearby ATMs. In the entire nation, there are more than 10,000 ATMs.

2. Multibanco Payments

The Multibanco system supports more than 90 different types of transactions. For instance, you top up your mobile phone, pay your monthly bills and taxes, contribute to social security, transfer money between accounts, and purchase tickets. All common bank cards, including Visa and Mastercard, are accepted at Multibanco ATMs.

3. Debit Card

The majority of Portuguese debit cards employ chip-and-PIN security. Debit cards come in a variety of designs from Portugal’s banks depending on the type of account. They can be used for ATM withdrawals as well as payments in stores and online. Most Portuguese retailers accept debit cards.

Multibanco cards can be used as debit or credit cards.

4. Credit Card

Despite being offered by the majority of banks, credit cards are less common in Portugal than debit cards. Usually, you must submit an application for one when you open an account or soon after. There are numerous credit cards offered, similar to debit cards. The major international credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, are accepted in Portuguese shops and online stores.

5. Online and Contactless Payments

Online payments can be made using debit and credit cards, while mobile payments can be made using banking apps, payment apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay, or digital wallets like PayPal.

6.  Local Money Transfers

Single Euro Payments Area Transfer (SEPA) is a way to move money within the Eurozone. As long as the transaction is under €50,000, the transfer cost will be similar to a transfer fee between two Portuguese bank accounts.

Transfers through SEPA typically take 1-2 days.

7. International Money Transfers

Banks in Portugal charge fees for transfers to or from outside the EU/EEA. You must inquire about the charge rates to and from various nations with your Portuguese bank. Transfers may require three to five working days.

8. Checks

Check payments are less frequent now in Portugal. Chequebooks cannot be obtained automatically from banks; they must be ordered in advance.

Bank Cards: Types and Service Costs

A credit or debit card application can be made online or at a Portuguese bank branch. Banks typically don’t charge commissions for distributing and maintaining debit cards. The annual service charges for credit cards range from €0 to €50.

11–13 percent is the standard interest rate for credit cards. The maximum amount that can be spent with a bank card without a PIN is €50.

How To Open a Bank Account in Portugal

You must open your Portuguese bank account physically at a nearby branch unless you’re opening a non-resident account from abroad. Online account opening is now an option with some banks, though this is typically more common with digital and mobile banks.

In Portugal, opening a bank account is not too difficult if you have the required paperwork which typically includes:

  • Passport or valid ID card
  • Proof of your address – e.g., a recent Portuguese utility bill 
  • Portuguese NIF number

Can a Foreigner Open a Bank Account in Portugal?

You don’t need to be a resident of Portugal to open a bank account there. However, you might only be able to open non-resident bank accounts if you haven’t yet moved to the country (and don’t have an address). These may be subject to more limitations than regular resident accounts. 

Banking in Portugal The Bottom Line: 

The Portuguese banking industry has been essential in meeting the economy’s liquidity and financing needs. The demand for high-quality financial services has been rapidly increasing in along with the use of technological innovations has significantly increased. If you’re planning to move to Portugal, you can rest assured that the banking system will meet your needs.

Good luck with your new life in Portugal.

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