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Travel money guide: Portugal

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

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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

Our picks for traveling to Portugal

American Express® Gold Card logo

Our pick for travel credit card

American Express® Gold Card

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5
Wise Multi-currency logo

Our pick for multi-currency debit card

Wise Multi-currency

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.5/5
SoFi Money logo

Our pick for 0% transaction fee debit card

SoFi Money

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5

Travel card, debit card or credit card?

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.

These are your options for spending money in Portugal

Using a credit card

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.

Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • High withdrawal and cash advance fees
  • Can be difficult to manage budget

Using a debit card

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.

Pros
  • PIN & chip protection
  • Preload euros
  • Ideal for managing your travel budget
  • Comes with backup cards
Cons
  • International ATM fees
  • Foreign transaction fees

Using a prepaid travel card

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.

Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Loading and reloading fees
  • ATM withdrawal fees
  • Exchange rates are lower than credit cards and debit cards

Paying with cash in Portugal

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.

Pros
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
Cons
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

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.

Pros
  • Secure
  • Easily replaced if lost or stolen
  • Photo ID needed to cash checks
Cons
  • Banks and exchange offices won’t accept traveler’s checks in Portugal
  • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
  • Limited acceptance

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95

Up to $1,250 signup bonus

Earn a massive signup bonus of 100,000 points with this popular travel card. That's worth up to $1,250!
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months
4x at restaurants including delivery and Uber Eats; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points), 3x points on directly-booked flights and 1x points on all other purchases
$250

Rose Gold is Back

Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 based on our valuation with this upper-mid tier travel card. Terms apply, see rates & fees
The Platinum Card® from American Express
100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 combined in the first 6 months, 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 5x points on directly-booked flights on up to $500,000 annually, then 1x points after that and on other purchases
$695

New Platinum Exclusive Offer

One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $7,000 based on Finder's valuation, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Terms apply, see rates & fees
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Portugal currency

5 Euros10 Euros20 Euros
50 Euros100 Euros

The main banks in Portugal are:

  • Caixa Geral de Depósitos
  • Banco Santander Totta S.A.
  • Banco Comercial Portugues
  • Banco Internacional do Funchal
  • Banco Popular Portugal
  • Novo Banco
  • Banco Português de Investimento (BPI)
  • Caixa Central de Crédito Agrícola Mútuo, C.R.L.
  • Banco Privado ATLANTICO – Europa
  • Banco Finantia, S.A.
  • Abanca
  • Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria

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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ATMS in Portugal

Cash pickup services in Portugal

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 0.844 EUR 840 WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups. Go to site Show details
$10 Within an hour USD 1.99 0.831 EUR 829 Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 8.00 0.829 EUR 822 MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Go to site Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 0.827 EUR 810 Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

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. All prices are in US dollars.

BudgetMid rangeLuxury
AccommodationHostel
$15–$30 per night
2-star hotel
$50–$100 per night
5-star hotel
$100–$300 per night
MealsCasa de pasto
$4–$8
Dinner at a restaurant
$20–$30 per dish
5-star restaurant:
$35–$60 per dish
ActivitiesFree 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.

Case study: Julie's experience

Julie profile photo
Julie

Interview with Julie in Lisbon

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.

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

Compare travel insurance policies

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