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 travel

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 3x points on dining at restaurants and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
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Compare travel cards for Portugal

Name Product Currency Conversion Fee Annual Fee APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.99% to 24.99% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
None
$450
17.99% to 24.99% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
None
$0
14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
None
$0
12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable
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

Compare up to 4 providers

Promoted
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 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.

    Details Features
    Atlas Premium
    Atlas Premium
    Comprehensive coverage with higher limits and a range of additional benefits.
    • Trip cancellation: Not available
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $2,000,000
    • Baggage coverage: $1,000
    • Trip delay: $200/day up to $400
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Travel Max
    Travelex Travel Max
    The most comprehensive protection plan offered by Travelex. Offers optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: $100,000
    • Baggage coverage: $2,500
    • Trip delay: $1,000
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    Coverage includes trip cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance and baggage insurance.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: $15,000
    • Baggage coverage: $750
    • Trip delay: $100/day up to $500
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Standard International
    STA Travel Standard International
    Affordable coverage for the essentials needed when traveling outside of your home country.
    • Trip cancellation: Not available
    • Emergency medical expenses: $25,000
    • Medical evacuation & repatriation: $250,000
    • Trip delay: $100/day up to $250
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    Increased limits of coverage, plus trip interruption insurance worth 150% of the trip cost.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: $50,000
    • Baggage coverage: $1,000
    • Trip delay: $200/day up to $1,000
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Not 100% sure you're going to make your trip? Cancel For Any Reason upgrade is available with the Travel Select plan.
    • Reimburses up to 75% of the insured trip cost
    • Must cancel within 48 hours before scheduled departure
    • Offered on trips with a maximum value of $10,000
    Go to site More info
    Atlas Travel
    Atlas Travel
    Customizable policy that balances between the basic essentials and premium coverage.
    • Trip cancellation: Not available
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $2,000,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $500
    • Trip delay: $100/day up to 2 days
    Go to site More info
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Comprehensive coverage for the cost of your trip, your medical expenses and your belongings.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $250,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $2,500
    • Trip delay: Up to $1,500
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Choose the coverage amount that meets your needs. Baggage and trip delay protection included.
    • Flight accident AD&D: Up to $1,000,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: $10,000
    • Baggage coverage: $1,000
    • Medical evacuation & repatriation: $100,000
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    Premiere coverage for a range of travel mishaps with additional riders for sports and other leisure activities.
    • Trip cancellation: $3,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $100,000
    • Baggage coverage: $500/item up to $2,500
    • Trip delay: $200/day up to $1,000
    Go to site More info
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Make sure you're covered in case your planned trip unexpectedly goes awry.
    • Trip cancellation: $1,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $25,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $1,000
    • Trip interruption: Up to $1,500
    Go to site More info
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    Customizable coverage that can give you peace of mind when traveling to popular or remote destinations.
    • Trip cancellation: $1,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $50,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $2,000
    • Trip interruption: Up to $1,500
    Go to site More info
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