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The 5 Best Banks in Portugal for Foreigners (Expats)

29 January 2020

If you’re an expat who wants to stay in Portugal for a while, it’s recommended that you register with an international bank in the country. Thankfully, it’s quite easy to open up a Portuguese bank account. Whether you’re a resident or not, the process is pretty simple. In this article, we will outline the best banks in Portugal.

Banks in Portugal - General information

You might have heard that Portuguese banks are highly advanced, and that’s true! Their system is extremely developed. All banks in the country are linked to its Multibanco system. Portugal is a Eurozone country, so that you can transfer money from any other Eurozone country without any conversion fees. Portugal is one of the easiest countries to open a bank account in for non-residents in the EU. And you can make SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) transfers between EU countries at the same cost (usually €0), and at the same speed, as domestic transfers.

If you need to make any direct payments or transfers, you can easily do so with a Portuguese bank account. You will also receive a debit or credit card if necessary. Additionally, you can use cheques, and you have the option of choosing if you want overdraft protection or not for your account.

The 5 best Portuguese banks

Here are five of the best banks in Portugal:

1. Millennium BCP - This is the largest bank in the country. Both residents and expats can open an account with this bank. They even offer a Millennium Start account for anyone under 17 years old, so if you are travelling with teenagers, this is an excellent option for them.

The minimum deposit is €150 (or equivalent amount in another currency), and the account not only allows Euros (EUR) but other currencies such as Australian dollar (AUD), Canadian dollar (CAD), Swiss franc (CHF), Danish krone (DKK), Pound sterling (GBP), Iceland krona (ISK), Hong Kong dollar (HKD), Japan Yen (JPY), Norwegian krone (NOK), New Zealand dollar (NZD), Polish zloty (PLN), Swedish krona (SEK), Turkish lira (TRY), United States dollar (USD) and South African rand (ZAR).

2. Caixa Geral de Depositos
This is the second largest Portuguese bank. It’s a publicly owned bank, which offers great options for students and a foreign currency account. If you’re a Portuguese resident living out of the country, you can have a specific account for that too.

3. Novobanco
This is a private bank and the second largest one of its kind in Portugal. It has something called a “Welcome Account,” which was created specifically for immigrants. If you’re an English speaker or prefer to communicate in English, you can open a “Golden Key Account.” They even have the option to open an eco-friendly account, which is pretty cool! The 18.31 account offsets carbon dioxide emissions.

4. Banco BPI
This is Portugal’s fourth-largest bank. You can choose from 5 different account options that are available for kids to adults. You can even have a bank account here at the ages of 0-12. If you’re into investment funds, Banco BPI has 20 investment fund options for you.

5. ActivoBank
Another great bank for expats is ActivoBank. Here are a few reasons you may want to choose ActivoBank:

- They have low or no maintenance fees;
- Information is available in both English and Portuguese;
- Their staff speaks excellent English;
- ActivoBank is a subsidiary of Millennium BCP, which means you can deposit cash in all of their ATMs as well;
- They operate as a paperless bank, which means no mail clogging your mailbox.

If you're looking for other alternatives, such as digital bank accounts to open from anywhere (for example with your mobile phone), check out these great digital banks.

Great digital banks for Portuguese residents

Several online and mobile banks have emerged in recent years, which allows customers to open bank accounts using their laptops or mobile phones. Two banks that are suitable for Portuguese residents are Revolut and N26. A standard account can be opened for free with your smartphone in a matter of minutes. Don’t want to visit a local branch to open a bank account to use in Portugal? If yes, then Revolut or N26 might be the banks for you.

Revolut - How to sign up

Any EU/EEA or US resident can open a Revolut account, and is done fully online with a user-friendly process. As long as you have a mailing address in one of the countries where Revolut operate, there shouldn’t be any problem receiving your Free Visa card or MasterCard.

You can easily open a Revolut bank account by:

1. Registering here
2. Download the Revolut app and create a 4-digit passcode with your phone number
3. Fill in the required information such as name, email, address, and SSN/ITIN
4. Add your funds to your new Revolut account

The process is quite easy, and once the account is set up, you can order your new Free Visa card for easy use in Portugal. You can also order a MasterCard.

N26 - How to sign up

Opening an account with N26 is done fully online, and is user-friendly. Any EU/EEA or US resident can open an N26 account, and as long as you have a mailing address in one of the countries where N26 operate, there shouldn’t be any problem receiving your MasterCard.

You can easily open an N26 bank account by:

1. Registering here
2. Download the N26 app
3. Pair your mobile phone
4. Add your funds to your new N26 account

The process is quite easy, and once the account is set up, you can order your new Mastercard for easy use in Portugal.

How to open a Portuguese bank account

To open an account with any of the above banks, you’ll need to visit a local branch. You should be able to find the locations of each bank on their websites. If you don’t speak Portuguese, you can ask if there’s any staff that speaks English. Or you could bring a translator. According to Portugal Property, the documents needed to open up a bank account are:

For EU citizens
- Proof of ID such as a passport;
- Evidence of a tax number and card (fiscal number);
- Evidence of a Social Security number or national insurance number;
- Proof of your address such as a rental agreement or utility bills;
- Evidence of your employment such as a pay stub, or a self-employment receipt;

For non-EU citizens
- Proof of your ID (passport and other documentation providing identity with a colour photo);
- Proof of your home address (country of origin);
- Proof of your profession or a contract of employment and company information;
- Proof of your Social Security number or national insurance number;

Going for ActivoBank? Here’s a list of what you need:
- A valid passport;
- Proof of income from your employer or self-employment;
- A phone number to receive SMS;
- A NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal), which is quite easy to get;
- Proof of your address either in Portugal or foreign address.

Conclusion

As you probably noticed reading this article, the documentation to open a bank account in Portugal is pretty standard. There shouldn’t be any problem with opening a bank account. And if you don’t wish to visit a local branch, or even move from your couch, you can quickly get an account with N26 with your smartphone.

We hope this article gave you some valuable information about opening a foreign bank account in Portugal. It’s quite an easy process that the country is very familiar with doing. If you also wish to qualify for Portuguese citizenship, you can read about the Portugal Golden Visa by investment on our homepage.