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A guide to finding the best prepaid SIM cards in Portugal

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Three telco operators provide strong options for tourists.

Portugal set a national record for overseas visitors in 2015 with more than 10 million tourists. If you’re planning a vacation to Portugal, a great way to save money abroad is to invest in a prepaid SIM card to handle your local texts and calls, along with securing an economic data bundle.

Details Features
Flexiroam X International SIM Card
Flexiroam X International SIM Card
If you're planning a trip that includes multiple countries, attaching flexiroam X can be much cheaper than roaming with your existing mobile number or buying a new SIM in each location.
  • Over 100 countries
  • Three different starter pack options
  • Data options from 1 to 5 GB
  • Shipment takes 3 to 5 days
  • Pay as you go plans
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Prices last updated 09/17/2017
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Cell phone carriers in Portugal

There are three major providers in Portugal:

  • MEO
  • Vodafone
  • NOS

MEO is the current market leader. Its 4G/LTE network was launched in 2012 for all networks on 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600 MHz. You can get a starter card plus 1GB of data for EUR19.99 (US$23.87).

MEO

MEO is owned by the Dutch company Altice Group and is an ideal fit for prepaid customers because it gives them 4G/LTE coverage without a surcharge. You can buy a SIM card at any MEO store or at the national chain Phone House. The MEO starter pack costs EUR9.99 and comes with EUR5 of credit. If you have the physical address of the place you’ll be staying in Portugal, such as a hotel or relative’s house, you can buy the card online and have it shipped to your location. Top-ups are available at many shops such as Payshop, The Phone Shop and more.

There are two available combo plans that combine voice, texts and data on a weekly rate. They are:

  • TOP 96: 100 minutes/SMS to other networks each week plus unlimited domestic calls to other MEO users and landlines.
  • TOP TOTAL: 500 minutes/SMS each week to all networks.

There are three data bundles that can be added to the new combo plans.

200MBEUR2.80
1GBEUR3.30
3GBEUR4.00

If you don’t get the combo packages, data is also available in monthly bundles for 4G/LTE at the following rates.

250MBEUR5.99
500MBEUR6.99
1GBEUR9.99
5GBEUR14.99

You can subscribe by texting the name of package you want to 12399. To check on your current credit, dial #123*. If a pack runs out, it defaults to the standard rate of EUR1.99 per 250MB per day.

There are also data bundles for social media and streaming content up to 10GB per month for EUR6.99. These include:

  • Messaging pack: WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, iMessage, Facetime, Hangouts
  • Social pack: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest
  • Video pack: YouTube, Netflix, Periscope, Twitch
  • Music pack: Spotify, Google Play Music, Soundcloud, TuneIn
  • Email and cloud: Gmail, Yahoo Mail, SapoMail, Google Drive, OneDrive, Amazon Drive, iCloud

You can check your balance on these plans by dialing #124#.

APN: internet

Website (in Portuguese): http://www.meo.pt/

Vodafone

According to a network testing, Vodafone has the best coverage and speeds in Portugal on both 3G and 4G. Prepaid customers are allowed on the 4G network. Its SIM cards are purchased at Vodafone stores, with reloads available at Payshop and similar outlets.

There are five prepaid cards: Easy, Up, World, Directo and Yorn. Yorn is for people 25 years and younger who are students. Easy and Directo do not have any data on them. So the best package for tourists is Up, which is available in the following four call, text and data bundles:

CostDataCallsTextsExtras
EUR11.99200MBFree domesticFree domesticn/a
EUR13.991GBFree domesticFree domesticn/a
EUR17.493GBFree domesticFree domesticn/a
EUR20.493GBFree domesticFree domestic20GB for social media
and messenger apps

The World plan lowers your fees for international calls and gives you 500MB of data a month for EUR12.99.

Vodafone’s data bundles are called Aditivos and can be added to any prepaid voice/data line on 4G/LTE up to 300Mbps. Subscribe by texting INTERNET <size of package not including MB or GB> to 1277. For example, for a package of 500MB you would text INTERNET 500 to 1277.

The bundles are:

250MBEUR5.49
500MBEUR7.49
1GBEUR10.49
2GBEUR14.99
5GBEUR20.49
(includes Spotify Premium)

APN: internet.vodafone.pt or net2.vodfaone.pt or vas.vodafone.pt

Website (Portugese only): http://www.vodafone.pt

NOS

NOS is the smallest network, but it still runs on 4G/LTE. Its SIMs are available at its stores and can be topped up at outlets like Payshop.

Its basic plan is called Livre and its starter package is available for EUR2.50. The first three top-ups earn you a bonus of EUR5 apiece.

There are three monthly Internet bundles available:

250MBEUR3.99
500MBEUR6.99
1GBEUR9.99

To activate a plan, dial 12300. The packages will renew after 30 days, so make sure to cancel your plan when you leave Portugal. If you want to check your data volume, dial *111#.

Data-only SIMs

NOS sells data-only SIM cards called Kanguru Livre that cost EUR2.50 and include a 24-hour period with unlimited Internet. After that first 24 hours, there are two available plans:

  • Livre S: 3GB for 60 days, EUR15
  • Livre XL: “Unlimited” data for 15 days, EUR15

The unlimited data plan comes with the catch that NOS reserves the right to throttle the amount of data you use, but it does not have a set limit. There are top-ups available for both Livre S and Livre XL from EUR5 to EUR30 as seen below.

PlanEUR5EUR10EUR15EUR20EUR25EUR30
Livre S volume500MB1GB3GB5GB7GB9GB
Livre S validity15 days15 days15 days15 days15 days15 days
Livre XL volumeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Livre XL validity2 days5 days15 days20 days25 days30 days

APN: umts or internet

Website (in Portuguese): http://www.nos.pt

Other SIM card options in Portugal

In addition to the traditional physical operators, there are two other options to secure a SIM card while you are visiting Portugal.

  • The first is Lycamobile Portugal, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that offers 2G and 3G speeds. The SIM cards cost EUR5 and come with a prepaid EUR5 top-up. Data is EUR0.9 per MB but there are four data packs available. Note that these are only valid for 30 days and only in Portugal.
  • 300MB for EUR5, activation code: *139*2005#
  • 1GB for EUR6, activation code: *139*2010#
  • 3GB (+1GB bonus) for EUR15, activation code: *139*2025#
  • 8GB for EUR30, activation code: *139*2035#

For these plans, you can check your balance by dialing *137#.

  • The second option is Portugal Internet, which rents SIM cards and mobile Wi-Fi routers to visitors in Portugal. You have to book a device at least two days in advance, but shipping and delivery are free. The data SIMs have unlimited traffic on 4G/LTE with a download speed up to 50Mbps. Portugal Internet uses the Vodafone and NOS networks. Its 4G/LTE network is available to 80% of the country.

Additional information from TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor has a community bulletin board that specializes in Portugal travel. Here are a few tips on Portugal SIM cards from visitors to the country.

There are three mobile operators in Portugal, and they charge more or less the same for a prepaid SIM unless there is some special promotion. It’s really not worth wearing out shoe leather to save perhaps a few cents, so go to the first shop you see and ask.”

Pros and cons of Portugal’s top SIM card providers

Portugal has multiple providers on the 4G/LTE network, as well as alternate options for getting the data bundles you need. Here’s a look at some of the highs and lows of those plans.

Pros:

  • MEO has special data plans for things like messaging, social media and video streaming.

Cons:

  • NOS does not inform customers what its throttle limit is on “unlimited” data for its Livre XL package.

Additional question about SIM cards in Portugal

Q: What is the difference between a SIM card and an MNVO?

A: MNVOs utilize pre-existing wireless networks to offer lower prices on data-only plans. SIM cards generally offer a combination of texts, calls and data.

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8 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    BethMarch 12, 2018

    I will need a SIM card and data plan for my iPad while travelling in Portugal for 3 weeks. My question is can I get all this at the Lisbon airport on arrival at 6 am? If not, can you suggest how or where to get this done? I am hoping to go with a Vodafone card and plan.

    • finder Customer Care
      joelmarceloMarch 15, 2018Staff

      Hi Beth,

      Thanks for leaving a comment on finder.

      You can buy a Vodafone sim card on the Vodafone shop in the arrivals hall or wait to reach town and go to one of the many phone shops existing there and compare who’s doing the best promotion on that particular time. The main providers are Vodafone, NOS and MEO.

      Cheers,
      Joel

  2. Default Gravatar
    LiMarch 3, 2018

    Hi,
    Let say that I buy a Data-only SIM card
    Can I use it with my iPad Air and my iPhone 6s at the same time? In which device should I install it to be able to do so. I guess that practice will use a lot of data. I don’t know how to install a SIM card in the iPad air2 . Please help me. Thank you

    • finder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoMarch 13, 2018Staff

      Hi there!

      Thanks for contacting finder.

      Here are the answers to your questions:

      Can I use it with my iPad Air and my iPhone 6s at the same time?

      You can definitely use the sim card on the iPhone 6s provided that it is unlocked.

      As for the ipad air, make sure that its 3g/4g compatible, meaning the iPad Air is WIFI/Cellular data compatible.

      In which device should I install it to be able to do so.

      You may use the simcard in both the iPad and the iPhone
      Ensure that the iPad is WIFI/Cellular data compatible

      I don’t know how to install a SIM card in the iPad air2 .

      Just like the iPhone, there is a sim card tray in the iPAd air on the side. Use the pin to eject it and you may place the sim card there.

      Hope this information helps!

      Best Regards,

      Nikki

  3. Default Gravatar
    DougFebruary 27, 2018

    I am travelling to Portugal with my unlocked iPhone. I want to buy a sim card with voice, text and data features. Once I insert the sim card do I have a new Portuguese phone number? If so is there a chance it will be a number that someone else had recently?

    • finder Customer Care
      RenchMarch 13, 2018Staff

      Hi Doug,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Yes, you can use your unlocked iPhone and compatible with GSM network for SIM cards in Portugal. It will work right away once you insert the SIM card on your phone. And yes, it will be a new Portugal phone number. The number will not be owned by someone recently.

      Best regards,
      Rench

  4. Default Gravatar
    BarryNovember 14, 2017

    I am in the Algarve for 3 months. I want a sim card on my phone for calls and text messaging but not interested in data. Which card is best?

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanNovember 14, 2017

      Hi Barry,

      Thank you for your inquiry. Please be advised that finder.com is a comparison site and is unable to give recommendation which sim card to use. Commonly sim card has data on its plan, but you can check the sim card plan that has required calls and texts.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

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