Travel money guide for Portugal | finder.com

Travel money guide: Portugal

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Find out how to make different types of travel money go further in Portugal.

Whether you’re planning to explore the cobblestone villages, relax on the golden beaches or indulge in the local cuisine, getting your travel money sorted out before you leave is crucial for a successful trip to Portugal.

Portuguese towns and cities have many banks and ATMs and using a major credit card shouldn’t give you a problem. If you can steer clear of the currency conversion and international ATM withdrawal fee, you’ll be spending smart and saving on fees. For some helpful tips and tricks, use our travel money guide to discover how you can spend for less while you’re in Portugal

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

One of the main differences to take into consideration when looking at different types of travel money is the exchange rate. It can also make sense to load money and lock in a rate on your travel card if you think euros are going to get more expensive to buy in the future. As always, you’ll want a credit card for emergencies and to score different travel perks such as complimentary insurance and rewards.

Whether you go for the sun, the olives or to explore the ancient cities of the once great imperial power, compare and apply for the right travel money so you don’t get buried in fees when withdrawing money or making purchases.

Our pick for use in Portugal

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards® Visa Signature® Card

  • Earn 25,000 enrollment FlexPoints worth $375 on airfare, hotel stays, car rentals and more. Just spend $2,000 in eligible net purchases on your card within the first four months of account opening.
  • 2x FlexPoints at gas stations, grocery stores or airlines – whichever you spend the most on each monthly billing cycle, and at most cell phone service providers.
  • 2x FlexPoints for your charitable donations
  • No foreign transaction fees*
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Compare travel cards for Portugal

Name Product Foreign Transaction Fee Welcome Offer Rewards Filter values
None
25,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 4 months
2x points on gas, groceries or airlines, whichever you spend the most on each month, 2x points on cell phone services and charities and 1x points on all other purchases
Earn 25,000 enrollment FlexPoints worth $375 in travel after spending $2,000 in the first 4 months. Rates & Fees
None
3% cash back bonus on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5%
3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.
None
N/A
N/A
An 18 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
None
40,000 bonus LifeMiles after first card use
3x miles on Avianca, 2x miles on gas and groceries, 1x miles on all other purchases and 15% 15% Multiply Your Miles discount
40,000 bonus LifeMiles after first card use
None
N/A
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1% for cash back
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.

Compare up to 4 providers

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Travelex Money Card

Why we like: Travelex Money Card

Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.

  • Not linked to your bank account for safety.
  • Convert currency with a 5.50% foreign exchange fee
  • Contactless payments
  • Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.

    What should I budget for my trip to Portugal?

    While Portugal is not as cheap as it used to be, visitors will find it much cheaper than other popular destinations in Western and Northern Europe. Whether you be someone who prefers to stay in a hotel or a hostel for cheap, Portugal can fit the budget of any traveler. Even eating out and exploring the city is quite affordable if you choose to go that route.Budget travelers can expect to pay about $45 a day, while those with bigger budgets can plan on $100 to $250 a day.

    Budget Mid range Luxury
    bldg

    Hostel
    $15–$30 per night

    2-star hotel
    $50–$100 per night

    5-star hotel
    $100–$300 per night

    utensil

    Casa de pasto
    $4–$8

    Dinner at a restaurant
    $20–$30 per dish

    5-star restaurant:
    $35–$60 per dish

    camera Free entry to most museums
    Free sightseeing of ancient ruins and castles

    Lisbon Oceanarium
    $20 for an adult ticket

    Guided 7-day bike tour of Portuguese castles and vineyards (expenses included): $1,250

    *Prices are approximate and subject to change.

    How to send money to Portugal

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    Should it be a travel card, a debit card or a credit card?

    The national currency of Portugal is the euros and conveniently, all travel cards let you load and spend euros. Neighboring Spain and France also use the same currency, so a travel card can make sense if you’ll be going all over Europe.

    Visa and Mastercard can be used everywhere and advances in contactless payments lets you use your credit or debit card for small purchases at major Portuguese retailers.

    • Tip: Most Portuguese bank ATMs (multibanco) do not charge a local ATM operator fee. To withdrawal money on the cheap, you should look for a card that doesn’t charge a fee for international ATM usage or currency conversion.

    A quick summary of travel money options in Portugal

    Travel money option Pros Cons
    Debit cards for travel
    • PIN & chip protection
    • Preload euros
    • Ideal for managing your travel budget
    • Comes with backup cards
    • International ATM fees
    • Foreign transaction fees
    Prepaid travel money cards
    • Euro is a supported currency
    • PIN & chip protection
    • Secure your exchange rate in multiple foreign currencies
    • Accepted worldwide
    • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
    • Ideal for managing your travel budget
    • Loading and reloading fees
    • ATM withdrawal fees
    • Exchange rates are lower than credit cards and debit cards
    Credit cards for travel
    • Protected by PIN & chip
    • Accepted worldwide
    • No currency conversion or transaction fees
    • Rewards points on spending, 0% purchases, frequent flyer perks, complimentary travel insurance
    • Emergency card replacement
    • High withdrawal and cash advance fees
    • Can be difficult to manage budget
    Traveler’s checks
    • Secure
    • Easily replaced if lost or stolen
    • Photo ID needed to cash checks
    • Banks and exchange offices won’t accept traveler’s checks in Portugal
    • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
    • Limited acceptance
    Cash
    • Greater payment flexibility
    • Convenience
    • More difficult to manage expenses
    • Higher risk of theft

    This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

    How travel money products work in Portugal

    Using debit cards

    Debt cards will have a wide acceptance throughout Portugal, but what you’ll want to look for is a card that can either waiver the international ATM fee, currency conversion fee or foreign transaction fee.

    If a local merchant or ATM gives you the option to pay in local currency when using your card, always go this route because the conversion rate set in place by your bank will be much more favorable.

    Using prepaid travel cards

    The euro is a supported currency on all travel cards. Compare fees like charges for ATM withdrawals and loading and reloading your card. You can lock in a rate when you transfer your dollars to euros, which can be handy if you think the value of the dollar is going to drop.

    Using credit cards

    A travel friendly credit card will allow you to make day to day payments in Portugal without the charge for currency conversion. You could even fall into a pool of perks which would ordinarily be an out of pocket expense — travel insurance, for example.

    Credit cards also offer interest free days on purchases when you pay your statement in full by the due date. Avoid using your credit card for ATM withdrawals. This is a cash advance that will accrue high interest immediately and you’ll pay a cash advance fee.

    Using a credit card in Portugal

    Using traveler’s checks

    Banks and exchange offices in Portugal will likely turn your traveler’s checks away. Use the right credit card, debit card or a travel card instead. These travel money products offer all the advantages of traveler’s checks and none of the drawbacks.

    Using cash

    There are going to be situations when you need cash on your trip. For example, some places won’t take cards if you’re spending less than 10 to 20 euros – other merchants won’t take cards at all. If you pick the right card, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have euros in your pocket.

    If you’ve brought dollars with you to Portugal, you won’t have trouble getting your cash changed to Euros on the street.

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    Interview with Julie in Lisbon

    What cards did you take with you?

    Julie took these products with her:

    • Barclaycard credit card
    • Travelex
      • Travelex provides over 60 foreign currencies
      • load it with up to 6 different currencies
        • euro
        • British pound
        • Australian dollar
        • Japanese yen
        • Canadian dollar
        • Mexican peso
      • No currency conversion fee
    • Discover Bank debit card
      • No fee on foreign transactions
      • No fee for international ATMs

    Why did you take these cards?

    Julie says she transferred money from her Discover Bank account to her Travelex travel card as she needed it. She did this so she could make over-the-counter purchases and ATM withdrawals without paying extra for currency conversion.

    She brought her Barclaycard to use for emergencies and she took along her Discover Bank debit card incase she lost her Travelex cards.

    Where could you use your cards?

    Most of the time she didn’t have a problem using her cards. Though there was one instance where a restaurant was cash only, which was a little surprising since she said much smaller cafes accepted cards.

    She recommends that you always ask whether they take card before you sit down to avoid awkward circumstances. She says that when she went out for drinks with her friends, the bars were mainly cash only.

    What about withdrawing money from ATMs?

    She had no problems using her Travelex card to make ATM withdrawals. However, she was charged a fee per withdrawal.

    Do you have any travel money recommendations for Portugal?

    She says the best thing she did was bring a prepaid travel money card which had the ability to lock in exchange rates, so she knew exactly how much money she had to spend and could stick to her budget.

    What are your travel money tips for Portugal?

    • Skip the taxis in Lisbon. Julie says Lisbon is well serviced by a metro, train and bus system. She says you should buy a 7-day carris card for .50 euro and reload as you need — using the card gives you a discount public transit.
    • Ask about the price of sides. When she was eating out with her friends, restaurants gave them sides like bread and olives. They didn’t ask for it, but they were charged a couple of euros.
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    Get familiar with Portugal banknotes and coins

    banknotes-portugal

    Buying currency in the US

    You can take as many euros with you as you want, but you have to declare if you’re carrying more than 10,000 euros.

    Your options for changing USD to EUR include banks and foreign exchange services like Travelex. Travelex also has rather convenient airport pickup locations.

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    Find travel insurance for your trip to Portugal

    A critical component of getting your travel money is order is getting the right travel insurance in place. Travel insurance offers protection from a range of losses including;

    • Cancellation
    • Loss or theft of luggage and personal belongings
    • Medical emergencies
    • Personal liability

    Nobody wants to pay too much for their travel insurance. Compare quotes to help you save even further.

    Name Product Trip Cancellation Emergency Medical Expenses Baggage Coverage Trip delay
    100%
    $15,000
    $500
    $500
    Essential travel coverage — with the option to customize — that can protect the cost of your trip.
    $10,000
    $1,000
    $100
    Protect the cost of your flight and choose the coverage amount that meets your needs — trip delay protection included.
    $50,000
    $2,000
    $1,000
    Budget-friendly policy designed for international and domestic travelers who want medical protection. Trip cancellation and trip interruption not included.
    $20,000
    $1,000
    $600
    Annual policy that offers affordable protection, but doesn't include trip cancellation or trip interruption.
    100%
    $15,000
    $750
    $500
    Basic policy with coverage that includes trip cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance and baggage insurance.

    Compare up to 4 providers

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