Travel Money Guide: Portugal

Find out how which travel money products will make your 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, organising your travel money in advance is crucial to a successful trip to Portugal.

Portuguese towns and cities are well serviced by banks and ATMs. Visa, Mastercard and American Express are accepted everywhere. Find a way to spend Euros without paying the fee for currency conversion and the international ATM withdrawal fee and you can use your cards for more or less the same price as you can in Britain. For some helpful tips and tricks, using our travel money guide to discover the travel money products you can use in Portugal and how you can spend for less while you’re abroad.

Which option is right for your next trip?

WeSwap Travel Money (Prepaid Card)

WeSwap

WeSwap matches travellers heading in opposite directions and directly swaps their travel money (information given is based on a 7 day service).

  • Let travellers swap money
  • After registration you get a WeSwap card
  • In order to swap money, recharge WeSwap card and choose required currency

    Compare travel money services for Portugal

    I want to send

    to

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    GBP 50 - - Prepaid card – A multi-currency card giving you an easier, safer and cheaper way to carry and spend your money abroad. Go to site Show details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.13 EUR
    565
    Prepaid card – Get £10 travel money free! Join WeSwap today and get £10 free on your WeSwap card (T&Cs apply). Go to site Show details
    GBP 200 GBP 0.00 1.122 EUR
    561
    Prepaid card – Chip and Pin protected, and accepted everywhere you see the Mastercard® Acceptance Mark worldwide. Go to site Show details
    GBP 100 GBP 0.00 1.113 EUR
    556
    Prepaid card – Travelex Group is a foreign exchange company based in London. It's the biggest foreign exchange bureau in the world. Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers

    I want to send

    to

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.13 EUR
    565
    Get the best travel cash rates delivered within 24 hours to your place. All deliveries are free for orders above £750. Go to site Show details
    GBP 300 GBP 6.50 1.126 EUR
    555
    Cash via post – Griffin Financial is a specialist dealer in foreign currency and can offer some of the most competitive rates around. Go to site Show details
    GBP 300 GBP 5.00 1.129 EUR
    559
    Cash via post – Travel FX Ltd is a specialist dealer in currency providing an alternative to banks and bureaux de change. Go to site Show details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.119 EUR
    559
    Cash via post – eurochange deliver convenience and value, both online and in over 145 branches. They provide travel money in over 70 currencies, and next day home delivery is free on orders over £400. Go to site Show details
    GBP 300 GBP 2.99 1.119 EUR
    556
    Cash via post – Travelex Group is a foreign exchange company based in London. It's the biggest foreign exchange bureau in the world. Go to site Show details
    GBP 400 GBP 4.95 1.119 EUR
    554
    Cash via post – Free delivery on all orders of £800 and over. All orders are dispatched fully insured through Royal Mail Special Delivery Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers

    I want to send

    to

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    GBP 250 GBP 0.00 1.128 EUR
    564
    Go to site Show details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.13 EUR
    565
    Get the best travel cash rates delivered within 24 hours to your place. All deliveries are free for orders above £750. Go to site Show details
    GBP 1 GBP 0.00 1.114 EUR
    557
    With over 240 stores, Debenhams offers travel money, money transfer and money exchange services. OFFER: Get £5 off £20 spend voucher; load your leftover currency on to a Debenhams gift card, and get an extra 20% free. Go to site Show details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.118 EUR
    559
    Click & collect – eurochange deliver convenience and value, both online and in over 145 branches. They provide travel money in over 70 currencies. Click & Collect in 60 seconds in branch. Go to site Show details
    GBP 0 GBP 0.00 1.118 EUR
    559
    Click & collect – One of the UK’s most popular foreign exchange retailers, with a network of stores across the country. Local service and customer commitment are the two main features of No.1 Currency’s service. Go to site Show details
    GBP 10 GBP 0.00 1.113 EUR
    556
    Click & collect – Travelex Group is a foreign exchange company based in London. It's the biggest foreign exchange bureau in the world. Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers

    How many Euros do I need to bring to Portugal?

    While Portugal is not as cheap as it used to be, visitors will find it much cheaper than destinations in Western and Northern Europe. Accommodation and shopping will be where you spend (or save) your money. If you prefer to stay in hotels your estimated travel expenses will be much higher than someone else who stays in hostels. Food, even eating out, and travelling from A to B are quite affordable all over Portugal. You will be able to find budget accommodation, food and activities right through to 5-star treatment.

    Basic costs Mid range A royal experience
    bldg

    Hostel

    £10 – £20 per night

    2-Star Hotel

    £60 per night

    5-Star Hotel

    £100-200 per night

    utensil

    Casa de pasto

    £3 – £6

    Restaurant

    £12 – £25 per dish

    5-Star Restaurant:

    £30 – £50 per dish

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

    Lisbon Oceanarium

    £12 for an adult ticket

    Guided 7-day & night bike tour of Portuguese castles and vineyards (expenses included): £6000+

    *Prices are approximate and subject to change.

    Exchange rate history

    The GBP currency pair has been relatively unstable over the last five years, thanks to recent political events such as Brexit. Travellers to Europe from Britain will find that £1 is equal to around 1.1 Euros. If you think you know whether it’s going to be more expensive or cheaper to buy Euros in the future, you may want to lock in the exchange rate using a prepaid travel card.

    Year Average annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Euro (EUR)
    2012 1.233263
    2013 1.177964
    2014 1.240494
    2015 1.377982
    2016 1.224833
    2017 1.155113
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    Should it be a travel card, a debit card or a credit card?

    The national currency of Portugal is Euros. Conveniently, all travel cards let you load and hold Euros. Most European countries, including neighbouring Spain and France, also use the same currency, so a travel card can make sense if Portugal is one stop on a European vacation, but how does a travel card stack up against a debit or credit card?

    Visa and Mastercard can be used everywhere (look for the Visa [Plus] and Mastercard [Maestro/Cirrus] logos on ATMs and card terminals). Advances in contactless payments now mean you can also use your credit or debit card for small purchases at major Portuguese retailers, which somewhat eliminates the need to make ATM withdrawals.

    • Tip: Most Portuguese bank ATMs (multibanco) do not charge a local ATM operator fee, you should look for a product which doesn’t charge for international ATM withdrawals as well as currency conversion to withdraw on the cheap in Portugal.

    A quick summary of travel money options in Portugal

    Travel money option Pros Considerations
    Debit cards for travel
    • Protected by PIN & chip
    • Pre-load Euros and make over the counter transactions
    • Ideal for managing your travel budget
    • Comes with backup cards
    • Compare and choose carefully — the wrong debit card can charge you excessively
    Prepaid travel money cards
    • Euro is a supported currency
    • Protected by PIN & chip
    • Pre-load and secure your exchange rate in multiple foreign currencies
    • Accepted worldwide
    • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
    • Ideal for managing your travel budget
    • While travel cards do not charge for international transactions (currency conversion fees), you may still be charged for ATM withdrawals
    Credit cards for travel
    • Protected by PIN & chip
    • Access to funds up to your credit limit
    • Accepted worldwide
    • No currency conversion/ transaction fees
    • Benefits including rewards points on spending, 0% purchases, frequent flyer perks, complimentary travel insurance
    • Emergency card replacement
    • Can charge high withdrawal and cash advance fees
    • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
    Traveller’s cheques
    • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
    • Photo I.D. needed to cash cheques
    • Banks and exchange offices won’t accept traveller’s cheques in Portugal
    • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
    • Not all merchants accept traveller’s cheques
    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 prepaid travel cards

    The Euro is a supported currency on all travel cards. Compare the back and front end fees like charges for ATM withdrawals and loading and reloading your card. You can lock in a rate when you transfer Pounds Sterling to Euros, which can be handy if you think the value of the British Pound is going to drop. And you can avoid ATM charges by choosing a product which doesn’t charge for international ATM withdrawals — Portuguese bank ATMs are generally fee-free.

    Using debit cards

    If your bank is a member of the Global ATM Alliance (Westpac Group accounts), you can avoid international ATM charges by using Barclays Bank ATMs in Portugal. There are no Westpac Group cards which waive the fee for currency conversion.

    • Tip: Portuguese multibanco ATMs are fee-free. This means that if you choose a product that doesn’t charge international ATM withdrawal fees or currency conversion fees, you can make withdrawals for a similar cost as you would in the U.K..

    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, and supplement your travel budget with 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.

    • Tip: Avoid using your credit card for ATM withdrawals. This is a cash advance. Cash advances accrue interest at about 20% p.a. from the time of the withdrawal, and you’ll pay a cash advance fee.

    Using traveller’s cheques

    It will be difficult to cash traveller’s cheques in Portugal. Banks and exchange offices won’t accept traveller’s cheques. Use the right credit card, debit card or a travel card instead. These travel money products offer all the advantages of traveller’s cheques and none of the drawbacks.

    Taking cash with you

    While Portugal has all the facilities to accept card payments you’d expect from a modern economy, there are going to be many instances when you need cash on your trip. Some places won’t take cards if you’re spending less than €10 – €20 Euros, other merchants won’t take cards at all. Banking reforms in Europe have made it cheaper than ever to make withdrawals from bank ATMs, and if you pick the right card, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have euros in your pocket.

    • Tip: While most supermarkets in Portugal will let you pay with your card even for transactions of only a couple of Euros, the Pingo Doce supermarket chain won’t accept card payments for transactions under €20.

    If you’ve brought Pound Sterling with you to Portugal, you won’t have trouble getting your cash changed to Euros on the street. They are frequent in bigger cities and touristy areas. The worst rates will be at the airport or inside hotels, the best will be at independent offices in larger towns and cities. Most banks no longer offer foreign exchange services.

    • Tip: Following the EU’s austerity measures, Portugal raised its VAT (value-added tax) from 19% to 21%. Like everywhere in Europe, if you are leaving within 3 months of purchase, you can claim the tax back by requesting a form named “Isenção de IVA”. Upon your departure, present this form to customs for a refund.
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    A guide to Portugal banknotes and coins

    banknotes-portugal

    Buying currency in Britain

    You can take as many Euros with you to the European Union as you want. You have to declare if you’re carrying more than €10,000 cash. This includes bank notes and traveller’s cheques, gold bullion etc. It’s easy to buy Euros in the U.K. – you can exchange Pounds to Euros in almost any high street or online travel shop, as well as in the airport.

    Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

    Having a combination of travel money options is the best way to mitigate risk and finance your trip to Portugal. Whilst debit and credit cards are widely accepted and used in Portugal, there are many instances where there will be a minimum transaction or times where card won’t be accepted at all – so it’s always a good idea to have some cash on you.

    One of the main differences between these travel products is the exchange rate. It can make sense to load funds 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 might want a credit card for emergencies as well as access to different travel perks such as complimentary insurance and rewards, however, never use a credit card for ATM withdrawals

    Portugal is truly a beautiful travel destination, so 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 that you can have peace of mind that you won’t get smashed by fees when withdrawing money or making purchases using your cards.

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