Try a card without foreign transaction fees to save money while traveling.
If you’re traveling to Portugal with a Visa or Mastercard on hand, you’ll be covered almost everywhere in the country. You’ll be good with an American Express card in some places, too.
That said, it’s a good idea to also carry some cash as some smaller restaurants and shops may not accept credit cards.
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Getting a credit card without foreign transaction fees could save you up to 3% on every transaction made abroad. But to save even more money, consider an airline credit card.
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.
Can I incur both fees?
Yes. However, you can avoid this by using a credit card without foreign transaction fees, and declining DCC if offered.
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.
Should I use my credit card to get cash in Portugal
It’s always good to have some cash on you for places that don’t accept credit cards or have a minimum limit. Keep around 75 to 100 euros in cash to pay newspaper vendors, cafés, restaurants, bars and small souvenir shops.
For cash withdrawals, you’ll find ATMs almost everywhere. But beware of cash advance fees and high APR if you’re using a credit card. You can avoid ATM fees by using a debit card.
Travel money guide: Portugal.
Do taxis in Portugal accept credit cards?
Look for the Visa/Mastercard sticker on the taxi or ask your hotel to call a taxi that accepts credit cards. Most do not.
Alternatively, call for an Uber ride and pay with your card through the app.
Chip and PIN credit cards
Chip and PIN cards are most common in Portugal. Most of the times, you’ll be asked to input your PIN for purchases or ATM withdrawals. If you don’t have a PIN, ask your bank to issue one before traveling.
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.
How to prepare before traveling to Portugal
- Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you could pay a 3% fee on every transaction amount. It may not seem like much, but it can quickly add up.
- Visa and Mastercard are universally accepted. But in Portugal, you could find a number of places that accept American Express. If you’re carrying a Discover card, look for the Diners Club logo.
- Notify your bank before you travel. If you don’t, you could end up with a blocked card. Also, ask for a four-digit PIN for your card if you don’t have one.
- Get your bank’s phone number. This can save you money and time in case you need assistance.
- Get a backup card. You never know when you may need it.
- Get some cash. Smaller establishments may accept only cash. Make sure you carry some in your pocket. But beware of cash advance fees and an APR if you’re looking to make a cash withdrawal with a credit card.
Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Portugal, but you could find smaller restaurants or shops that accept only cash or have a minimum of 10 euros before accepting credit cards.
If you want to make a cash withdrawal, consider getting a debit card. They come without cash advance fees and cash advance APR. For card purchases, consider a credit card without foreign transaction fees.
See more guides on using a credit card in other countries.