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Travel money guide: Portugal

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.

Take along a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. Here’s how to cut back on spending costs during your trip to Portugal.

Our picks for traveling to Portugal

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Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

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Travel card, debit card or credit card?

One of the main factors to consider 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 imperial power, compare and apply for the right travel money card 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 like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card card will allow you to make daily payments in Portugal without charging currency conversion fees or foreign transaction fees.

Some travel cards may offer a pool of perks which would ordinarily be an out-of-pocket expense — travel insurance or free checked bags for example. Review your travel habits and compare travel cards to find one that best suits your needs.

Pros
  • Protected by PIN and 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

Which credit card issuers are accepted in Portugal?

Visa and Mastercard are most widely accepted in Portugal, but you can find locations that accept American Express credit cards.

Discover cards are accepted only in places with the Diners Club logo. But these are few.

If you want to make an ATM cash withdrawal, the CGD/SIBS ATMs accepts Discover cards. American Express card owners can choose from BCP, BES, CGD, MPG and Euronet ATMs among many.

Merchant acceptanceATM acceptance
Visa
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
Mastercard
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
American Express
exclamation point iconMedium
check mark iconHigh
Discover
exclamation point iconMedium
cross mark iconLow

Potential credit card fees in Portugal

Whenever you use your credit card in Portugal, you could incur the following fees:

  • Foreign transaction fees. This fee can amount to 3% of the amount of every transaction. So, if you have a card that charges foreign transaction fees, you could pay $120 in fees for every $4000 spent in Portugal.
  • Currency conversion fees. Some vendors and ATMs could offer you to pay or withdraw cash in US dollars. This is known as Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) and it often has poor conversion rates and could have additional fees.

Compare travel credit cards

Narrow down top travel credit cards by welcome offers, rewards and annual fees to find the best for your budget and financial goals. Select Compare for up to four products to see their benefits side by side.

1 - 3 of 35
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
Up to 5x miles
$0
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
Up to 5x miles
$95
Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months ​from account opening.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months of account opening
Up to 10x miles
$395
Capital One's premium luxury travel card, featuring airport lounge access at 1,300+ lounges.
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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 waive the international ATM fee, currency conversion fee or foreign transaction fee – one from Betterment Checking for example.

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 your bank sets for you to pay in US currency will be much more expensive.

Pros
  • PIN and 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 and 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, you should 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
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Portugal currency

5 Euros10 Euros20 Euros
50 Euros100 Euros

The main banks in Portugal are:

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

Buying currency in the US

Take as many euros with you as you want to Portugal, 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.

Live Rate

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ATMS in Portugal

You shouldn’t find many issues locating an ATM throughout Portugal. To save on additional costs, look for a debit card from a provider that doesn’t charge international ATM fees, such as Betterment Checking.

Keep your travel money safe in Portugal

Portugal ranks at the third-safest country worldwide, so travelers can exercise normal precautions on their journey. However, bag-snatching and pickpocketing are the most common crimes tourists report. Keep your wallet in your pocket or use a money belt to keep your travel money out of arm’s reach.

Is it safe to use my credit card in Portugal?

Using your card in Portugal is generally safe. However, following a few steps can help ensure your card’s security:

  • Select ATMs with care. Pick ATMs located in banks. In case the ATM holds your card, you can quickly retrieve it. Also, it’s unlikely you’ll stumble upon a card-skimming device.
  • Take two cards. Having a backup card will help you avoid unpleasant situations in case something happens to your primary card.
  • Keep your card in sight. Keep an eye on your card to avoid misuse whenever you pay.

What should I budget for my trip to Portugal?

While Portugal isn’t as cheap as it used to be, visitors will find it much cheaper than other popular destinations in Western and Northern Europe. Whether you’re 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 buy a seven-day carris card for .50 euro and reload as you need — using the card gives you a discount on 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 in 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
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