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Portugal - Banking
As a rule, anyone relocating to Portugal must open a Portuguese bank account (they are still able to keep their home country account if desired) because taxes and utilities need to come from a local account. The main local banks are Millennium BCP, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, BBVA amongst others. Banking in cities can be a fairly similar affair to your own country although that familiar bank name you recognise (for example Barclays) will have different services, features and procedures than those you are used to. When it comes to banking in more rural areas, you’ll be assigned a bank manager (gerente) who you can get to know over time as they often contact you directly. Don’t assume English will be spoken outside of cities, take your time to find the best bank and person of contact who you can communicate well with. As always, word of mouth can help expats to choose the best bank for their needs. Opening hours are generally 8.30am - 3pm from Monday to Friday. Smaller local banks and banks in rural locations may close during lunch hours.
Types of accounts:
Current accounts (conta corrente) everyday banking including debit cards and cheque book accounts, online banking and marginal if any interest. Must be 18 to open.
Deposit account (deposito a prazo) account to store money without direct access to funds. Higher interest on funds.
Savings account (caderneta de poupança) requires deposit to open, may be minimal withdrawal allowances, access to funds may be limited. Higher interest rates.
Credit account (conta de crédito) EU comparative interest rates, credit card statements and online banking.
Levantar dinheiro - withdraw funds
Extracto de conta - bank statement
Saldo da conta - bank balance
Cartões - cards
When opening a bank account in Portugal you need to go into a branch (sucursal) in person. If you need to, ask for a member of English speaking staff to assist you. As well as an application form new customers need to fill out a form about complying with the bank's services and products (Dados de cliente e Adesão a Produtos) and the Terms and Conditions (Condicoes Gerais) of the bank document. Although bank dependant, EU citizens require their passport or identity card, their residency card, Fiscal number/card, proof of address such as utility bill or driving licence and tax return or payslip with National Insurance number/ Social Security number. Also required will be proof of your Fiscal Representative (firm of lawyers). Non EU members require the same documentation as well as proof of their home address from their home country, their contract of employment/company details/proof of profession.The identity documents with photos must be in colour. At minimum, a 250€ will be required as a deposit to start up your account. Once this is cleared you will receive cards, login details for online banking and statements to follow.
Foreign banks are Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch, Santander and Barclays. Expats tend to bank with Barclays, Santander, Millennium BCP and Montepio.
Santander Totta (site requires English translation)
Rua do Ouro, No. 88, 1100-063 Lisboa
Santander PT account
Able to transfer money to from UK and other countries to Portuguese account without international transfer charge. Must be resident with ID and proof of address. Minimum payment to current account per month.
Tel: +351 707 212 424
Information about necessary documents and procedure for opening the account in Euros
Barclays Bank PLC
WiZink Bank, SA - Sucursal em Portugal Av. Da Liberdade 131, 1st Floor ,1250-140 Lisbon
Barclaycard Flex Credit card
Gift card after first purchase, credit up to 50 days without interest, contactless technology. Must be 21 years + resident.
Tel: +351 707 780 808
Millennium BCP (local bank)
English language website. Online banking in English, clients can open an American Express blue account, mortgages and services for non-residents and money bank transfers to a range of countries. Advice on finances and legal matters.
Millenium current account: minimum deposit 50€, enables operations in GPR, USD, clients can be residents or non-residents, overdraft facility. 5.30€ maintenance costs unless under 23 years of age. Debit card.
(Click to call) Branch finder
Atlantico Europa (Banco de Portugal)
Current card account: minimum deposit 50€, enables operations in GPR, USD, clients can be residents or non residents, overdraft facility. 5.30€ maintenance costs unless under 23.
Tel: (+351) 210 403 400
Given the delicate nature of the banking market you may find as an expat it is an uphill struggle to get an overdraft or loan. The banks won’t have your previous credit history or tax returns so unless you can put together a detailed story of your past banking, have evidence of your residency in Portugal, your fiscal number and have been in the country a number of years it may be unlikely that you will be granted either. Mortgages however due to the popularity of foreign buyers are available for expats, both residents and non-residents. Not all banks do offer mortgages but getting the correct documentation and deciding on the purpose of the mortgage are key approaches which will help you in the process.
The banking system in Portugal is generally considered to be efficient and modern for customers but at times archaic and slow. In branches there can be slow service and long waits at busy times. In contrast the multi-use ATMs named Multibancos are state of the art machines which can be used to pay bills, withdraw money and top up phones as well as other features. Look for a blue/green M sign to locate one. Other known ATMs are Euronet with a blue and yellow symbol. With so many foreign residents losing money in the collapse of Banco Espirito Santo in 2014 the trust of banks to handle expats money is still fresh in people's minds.
Whilst plenty of locals and tourists use cards for transactions it is still very common for people to pay with cash. That said the more local and small the establishment the less likely card payments will be used so have cash to hand as well as if buying only a few items in a smaller shop. Contactless is set to become more widely used from 2017 onwards where card machines exist. Accepted cards are Mastercard, American Express (shops, restaurants and hotels) and VISA. You may find Apple pay and Android pay accepted in a few supermarket such as Jumbo or electronic retailers like Pingo Doce.
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