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Thinking of moving to Portugal? You might be working or starting a business there, studying at a Portuguese university, or just visiting family. Whichever is the case, you might want to consider opening a Portuguese bank account.
Portugal has a large number of retail banks to choose from, so which should you choose? To help newly arrived expats get their finances in order, we’ve put together a list of the top banks in Portugal. Plus, info on some of the current and savings accounts they offer.
Remember though, a bank isn’t the only way to manage your money overseas.
Open a Wise multi-currency account online to manage your money in 50 currencies, including euros (EUR). And you’ll get low fees and fair exchange rates on all your spending and ATM withdrawals. .
But first, let’s take a quick look at how banking works in Portugal.
The banking system in Portugal is modern and integrated, thanks to the use of its advanced Multibanco interbank network. There are around 150 banks in Portugal,¹ a mix of private national retail banks, cooperative banks and international banks. Most are regulated by the Banco de Portugal.
Most banks in Portugal offer online and mobile banking. But if you need to visit a high street branch, you’ll find most retail banks open between 8.30am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. Some open for limited hours on Saturdays.¹
Opening a bank account in Portugal needs to be done in person at a branch, although some banks do let you at least start the process online. You’ll need to have your ID and other documents ready, including proof of address, and your Portuguese NIF number.¹
Accounts with Portuguese banks do tend to come with some fees. This includes account maintenance fees of around €5-7 a month,¹ although you can find some fee-free student accounts. If you get a credit card, you can expect to pay around €15-50 a year in fees.¹
You’re also likely to be charged a fee if you use your Portuguese debit card outside of the country, or make international transfers from your Portuguese bank account.
Now, let’s take a look at some of your options when it comes to choosing a bank in Portugal.
|Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD)
Santander is an international bank which you’re likely to be familiar with, as the Spanish-based bank has a presence in the UK.
In Portugal, Santander is one of the largest private banks. It offers a choice of accounts, including the popular Santander Account with Mundo 123. There are also dedicated accounts for young people, including the Stream Account 0-17and the Stream Account 18-30 for students.
Santander also offers savings accounts, credit cards, investment products, foreign currency accounts and much more.
With a large network of branches and ATMs throughout Portugal, Novo Banco offers a wide range of products for personal customers.
This includes both packaged accounts, bringing together debit and credit cards along with a current account, and simplified accounts. Its most popular options are its NB 100% and NB 360º package accounts.
Novo Banco also offers a special account just for new arrivals, the Golden Key Account. This gives you perks such as discounts on health insurance, an English-speaking account manager and other services to help you settle into life in Portugal.²
One of the largest banks in Portugal, CGD is known for its commercial and investment banking services. But it also offers products and services for retail customers too.
One of the largest private banks in Portugal, Millennium BCP has a huge network of branches nationwide and worldwide.
For personal customers, its most popular current account is the Millennium Account.
But the bank also offers savings and investment products, insurance, personal loans, mortgages and a wide range of credit, debit and prepaid cards. It also has an English version of its website.
One of Portugal’s fastest growing private banks, Banco CTT specialises in services for personal customers. It offers a choice of accounts for day-to-day banking, including its CTT Bank Account. There’s also the Junior Account for young customers aged 0-17.
Banco CTT also offers credit solutions, insurance, savings and investment products, along with credit cards and debit cards.
Owned by the Spanish bank CaixaBank, Banco BPI is a major private bank offering services to both personal and business customers.
It has a range of current accounts on offer, including its BPI Current Account, BPI Valor Account and Foreign Currency Current Account. There are also dedicated accounts for children and young people, and a selection of cards and savings products.
Another Spanish bank operating in Portugal, Abanca offers accounts and products for both businesses and individuals.
Personal customers can choose from options such as the Value Account or Smart Account. There are also foreign currency accounts, savings accounts, cards, insurance products, investment options and much more available at Abanca Portugal.
Formerly known as BancoBic, EuroBic is a Portuguese bank with Angolan links. It offers services to both individuals and companies.
For everyday banking, you can take your pick from accounts such as the EuroBic 365 Account, EuroBic Prime Account or Private Current Account. The bank also offers specialist accounts for over 55s, and for young people aged 18-25.
With a network of branches across Portugal, ActivoBank is known for its straightforward consumer banking services. It charges no account maintenance fees or annual card fees,³ and has an innovative mobile banking app.
A fully digital bank, Banco Best offers a range of everyday banking services alongside insurance and investment products. What’s more, it has an English version of its website.
Along with traditional banks, Portugal also has a number of digital banks to choose from. This includes:
- Revolut. The app-based Revolut offers a choice of monthly plans, including a free Standard plan. All include a debit card and basic banking services, with more perks and features added the more you pay for your monthly plan.
- N26. N26 offers an app-based current account and a choice of monthly plans. This includes a free Standard plan which comes with a virtual card.
If you want to send money overseas or use your card when you travel, you could find it expensive with a Portuguese bank account.
This makes it ideal for travellers, expats, overseas students and anyone else living an international life.
Sources last checked on date: 22-Apr-2023
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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