For foreigners living in Portugal, the process of choosing the right bank to open an account is an important and strategic move.
Having an account in a Portuguese bank is essential as it simplifies all sorts of financial transactions — from making savvy investments to planning for your future, from finding the ideal mortgage to transferring money abroad. It also forms a cornerstone for your life in this European nation.
Fortunately, Portugal boasts a financial landscape with over 150 banks, both local and international, providing a variety of services to individuals and businesses.
However, with such a diverse array of choices, deciding where to open a bank account can be a challenging task.
This article will simplify your decision-making process by exploring the best banks in Portugal.
In this guide, we will cover the following:
- Important information before opening an account
- Required documents
- How to open a bank account in Portugal
- What you can do with a Portuguese bank account
- A list of banks in Portugal
The Portuguese Banking System: An Overview
About the Portuguese banking system
Portugal has an advanced banking system, which is an integral part of the country’s financial infrastructure.
The banking system is controlled by Portugal’s Central Bank (Banco de Portugal) and the European Central Bank (ECB), two regulatory bodies that ensure the stability and compliance of the Portuguese banks with European Union financial regulations.
Portugal’s banking sector is characterized by a mix of private national retail banks, cooperative banks, and international banks providing a diverse array of financial services to individuals, businesses, and investors.
Types of banks in Portugal
More than 150 banks operate in the country, including public and private retail banks and cooperative, investment, and commercial banks.
There are different types of Portuguese banks offering various types of services, including personal banking, corporate banking, investment banking, and private banking.
Additionally, there is a growing presence of digital banks and fintech companies that provide innovative online services in Portugal.
Important Information Before You Open an Account
What can you do with a bank account in Portugal?
Banks in Portugal provide access to a range of financial services and benefits, just like any other bank in the world.
Here are some of the common services and transactions offered by banks in Portugal:
- Receive income
- ATM withdrawals
- Investment banking services
- Loan and credit services
- Foreign exchange
- Safety deposit boxes
- Services specifically for expats
- Business banking
- Digital and online banking
Working hours of banks in Portugal
Banks in Portugal typically follow a standard working schedule, but it’s important to note that specific hours may vary slightly from one bank to another.
The general working hours for banks in Portugal are 8.30 to 15.00, but banks can stay open later.
Some banks, especially in larger cities and tourist areas, are also open on Saturday mornings as well.
Bank fees in Portugal
Bank fees in Portugal can vary depending on the specific bank, the type of account you hold, and the services you require.
- Account maintenance fees: Most Portuguese banks charge a monthly maintenance fee, which will usually cost between €5-7 per month and around €60 per year. However, many banks offer fee-free accounts, especially for basic checking or savings accounts.
- Debit and credit card fees: Banks may also charge annual fees for credit and debit cards. Additionally, there may be charges for card replacement, card re-issuance, or using cards abroad.
- Transaction fees: Fees can also apply for various transactions, such as withdrawing cash from ATMs that belong to a different bank, making transfers to other banks, or using international wire transfer services.
- Foreign currency exchange fees: When making international transactions or currency exchanges, banks may apply foreign exchange fees or offer less favorable exchange rates. For amounts that are less than €50,000, the bank fee is less than €15. For larger amounts, this will be approximately €30 or more.
- Loan and mortgage fees: If you take out a loan or mortgage, there may be various fees associated with the application, processing, and administration of the loan.
International money transfers in Portugal
Most banks in Portugal offer international money transfer services. You can visit your bank branch or use online banking to initiate transfers.
Banks charge fees to transfer money internationally. These fees can vary depending on the bank, the transfer method, and the destination country. It’s essential to inquire about the fees associated with your specific transfer.
There is no limit on the amount that you transfer. However, if the transfer amount surpasses € 50,000, then the Portuguese Central Bank will need to be notified.
International money transfers normally take between three to five working days.
What Do You Need to Open a Portuguese Bank Account?
Getting a NIF number
Before you open a bank account in Portugal, you must obtain a Número de Identificação Fiscal, known as a NIF number.
Issued by the Portuguese tax office, the NIF is required for a variety of everyday activities, such as getting a phone subscription, signing up for health insurance, and carrying out any financial transactions in the country.
To learn more about the Portuguese Tax Number, make sure to read our How To Get A NIF guide.
The required documents
Now that you have your own NIF number, you can finally start gathering the documents to open a Portuguese bank account.
Here’s a list of the required documents to open a bank account in Portugal. Please note that they vary slightly depending on the bank and the type of account you wish to open.
- NIF number
- Proof of Identity: A valid, government-issued photo ID, such as a passport or national ID card. Expatriates and non-residents may be required to provide a residence permit or visa.
- Proof of Address: This can be in the form of a recent utility bill (e.g., electricity, water, or gas bill received in the previous three months), a letter, or a rental agreement.
- Proof of Income: Depending on the type of account and your financial situation, you may be asked to provide proof of income. If you are not employed, you’ll need to show proof of registration with the Portuguese employment center (Centro de Emprego) or that you have an assured work contract.
- Portuguese phone number for SMS activation: This may not be required and is dependent on the bank. Some banks also accept international phone numbers.
- Deposit: A minimum deposit of €250-300 in cash is common, although this will depend on the bank
Some Portuguese banks allow you to open a bank account online, but most of them require you to visit their local branch in person.
The Top 10 Banks in Portugal
The Best Portuguese Banks
Caixa Geral de Depósitos
Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD), often simply referred to as “Caixa,” is the largest bank in Portugal.
This state-owned bank was founded in 1876, and it’s considered one of the country’s most traditional and established financial institutions.
CGD currently operates in Portugal and 23 other countries, including the UK, Brazil, Mexico, China, India, and Canada.
Caixa Geral de Depósitos offers a wide range of financial products like mortgage solutions, financial insurance, investment funds management, and life insurance.
They also have an online banking service called Caixadirecta (Online), which allows clients to pay bills, schedule online payments, make bank transfers, manage investments, order national and international transfers, and buy or sell in the stock market.
Millennium BCP, also known simply as Millennium, is one of the largest private banks in Portugal.
Officially named Banco Comercial Português, Millenium was founded in 1985, and it operates an extensive network of branches and ATMs throughout Portugal, serving both retail and corporate customers.
Millennium BCP has an international presence with branches and subsidiaries in various countries, including Mozambique, Angola, Poland, Switzerland, and France.
Some of the banking services offered by Millennium include investment funds, financial and health insurance, retirement savings, mortgage loans, and more.
Millennium BCP offers online and mobile banking services, allowing customers to manage their accounts, make transactions, and access various banking services through digital platforms.
Novobanco is a Portuguese bank that was established in 2014 because of the resolution of Banco Espírito Santo (BES), one of Portugal’s largest and oldest financial institutions.
It was established as a “bridge bank” to protect the stability of Portugal’s banking system and to ensure the continued provision of banking services to customers.
Novobanco has over 300 branches across the country and offers a range of banking services, including personal and business banking, investment and asset management, credit and loans, and insurance products.
This Portuguese bank serves both individual and corporate clients and provides digital banking solutions, allowing customers to access their accounts and conduct transactions online or through the mobile app.
Banco Atlantico Europa
Banco Atlantico Europa is a banking institution that operates in Portugal and is part of the Atlantico Financial Group.
This Portuguese bank was founded in 2009 with the mission to provide its customers with new ways to control their expenses, save more easily, and live better.
Headquartered in Lisbon and with branches in several Portuguese cities,
Banco Atlantico offers a range of banking services for individuals and corporate clients.
Some of their services include savings and investment solutions, guidance to finance your real estate investment, track spending, savings accounts, and more.
Banco Atlantico even offer services tailored specifically to non-residents to smoothen their moving process to Portugal.
In addition, the bank has special solutions designed for corporate clients, including transaction management and assistance and export and import documentary remittances.
Banco Santander Totta
Banco Santander Totta is the Portuguese subsidiary of the Spanish banking group Banco Santander.
It is one of the prominent banks operating in Portugal and the largest private bank in the country.
This bank is headquartered in Lisbon and has almost 400 branches across Portugal. In 2019, Santander was the bank with the best reputation in Portugal and was named the best bank in the country by Euromoney.
Santander Totta was also named the safest bank in Portugal by Global Finance in 2016.
Santander allows clients to open personal and business accounts and provides solutions such as insurance (health, life, car, and workers’ compensation insurance), savings accounts, loans, and investment funds.
Banco Português de Investimento (BPI)
Headquartered in Porto, Banco Português de Investimento (BPI) (Portuguese Investment Bank) is one of Portugal’s leading commercial banks.
With more than 1.4 million customers, it’s the third-largest private bank in the country.
BPI was lauded with the national Cinco Estrelas Award for “brand trust” and “banking”, and it’s known for focusing on corporate and retail banking activities as well as investment banking services, asset management, and insurance.
One of the bank’s priorities is the financing of Portuguese farmers and agro-industrial companies.
The bank also provides a full range of financial services for Portugal’s citizens, such as loans, deposits, overdrafts, life and property insurance, and brokerage services.
Banco Montepio is a Portuguese bank officially known as Caixa Económica Montepio Geral. It is one of the oldest and most traditional financial institutions in Portugal, known for its focus on mutualism and social responsibility.
Banco Montepio is a mutual savings bank, meaning that it is owned by its members, who are also its customers. Mutual savings banks prioritize the interests of their members and communities over profit generation.
Banco Montepio provides banking services to individuals and businesses, as well as social and economic institutions.
EuroBic, is a commercial bank in owned by the Angolan banking group Banco BIC (Banco BIC S.A.). Banco BIC is a major financial institution in Angola and has a presence in several other countries.
This bank offers services to both individuals and businesses. These services typically include opening bank accounts, requesting loans, and managing various investment and wealth management solutions.
Like many modern banks, EuroBic provides online and mobile banking services, allowing customers to access their accounts, make transactions, and manage their finances through digital channels.
Bison Bank is a banking institution based in Portugal that specializes in providing financial services to individuals, corporations, and institutional clients. While it is not one of the largest banks in Portugal, Bison Bank is known for its expertise in private banking and wealth management. Here is an overview of Bison Bank:
Owned by the Hong Kong-based Bison Capital Holding Company Limited, Bison Bank has a global perspective and serves both Portuguese and international clients. It aims to provide international clients with financial solutions tailored to their specific needs.
ActivoBank is a Portuguese digital bank part of the Millennium BCP Group, one of Portugal’s largest banking and financial services groups. This affiliation provides customers with the security and stability of a well-established financial institution.
It is known for providing a range of online and mobile banking services to its customers without charging for account maintenance fees or annual card fees.
Number of Branches
Caixa Geral de Depósitos
Banco Atlantico Europa
Banco Santander Totta
International Banks in Portugal
Portugal has a multitude of international banks from countries such as Brazil, China, Angola, and more.
If you happen to be a resident or citizen of one of these nations with a branch presence in Portugal, you may find it convenient to utilize your local branch services.
Among the well-regarded international banks in Portugal, some of the notable ones include:
- Banco do Brasil: Banco do Brasil is the oldest bank in Brazil and among the oldest banks in continuous operation in the world. This prestigious bank has been expanding its business in the Portuguese market due to the growth in the size of the Brazilian community in Portugal.
- BNP Paribas: BNP Paribas is a French multinational universal bank and financial services holding company. It operates in more than 70 countries, and it has branches in Porto and Lisbon.
- Citibank: Founded in 1812, Citibank, officially known as Citibank, N.A., is the consumer banking division of Citigroup Inc. and one of the world’s largest and most well-known financial services conglomerates. This international bank has maintained a presence in Portugal, with a branch in Lisbon.
- ABANCA: ABANCA is a Spanish bank focused on traditional banking and lending. While the bank operates primarily in the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain, it also has a presence in other countries, including Portugal.
- German Deutsche Bank: Deutsche Bank AG is a German multinational investment bank with a vast network spanning 58 countries and a large presence in Europe (including Portugal), the Americas, and Asia. Now, it has two segments, Corporate and Investment Banks, and offers its services to corporate and institutional clients.
Digital Banks in Portugal
Digital-only banks have gained popularity in Portugal (and around the world) for their convenience, lower fees, and innovative features.
They operate exclusively through digital channels, such as websites and mobile apps, without physical branch locations.
Digital-only banks provide a wide range of banking and financial services entirely online, offering customers the ability to manage their finances, conduct transactions, and access various banking products electronically.
Here’s a list of the best-known digital banks in Portugal.
- N26: N26 is a 100 percent mobile bank from Germany. It currently operates in various member states of the Single Euro Payments Area, including Portugal. This bank provides international money transfers, investments, overdrafts, cash withdrawals, and deposits at stores.
- Revolut: Self-described as a financial “super app”, Revolut is a global neo-bank that offers services like easy money management, currency exchange, and international transfers. The app can also be used for buying, selling, and exchanging cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Investment Banks in Portugal
Investment banks are financial institutions that provide a range of specialized financial services to clients.
They play a pivotal role in the global financial system by facilitating complex financial transactions, raising capital for businesses, and providing advisory services.
Some of Portugal’s most reputable investment banks are:
- Banco Invest: This bank specializes in the management of savings and investments for its customers. They provide access to rising investment trends such as sustainability, climate change, AI, 5G, health, and more.
- Banco Finantia: With more than 30 years of experience, Banco Finantia is a global and independent bank that provides investment, savings, financial services, and specialized consultancy solutions to private and institutional investors.
- Banco Carregosa: This banking institution specializes in private banking with the main objective of advising and protecting customers’ assets. They provide a complete range of investment banking, wealth management, savings solutions, and property advisory services.
Money Transfer Companies
Money transfer companies, or international money transfer services, facilitate the transfer of money from one individual or entity to another, often across international borders.
They’re a great option for both individuals and companies that want to make international transactions.
Choosing the right money transfer service depends on factors such as transfer speed, fees, exchange rates, and the specific needs of the sender and recipient.
Some of the most popular are:
Exploring Visa and Immigration Options for Portugal
If you're considering making the move to Portugal, it's essential to be informed about the various visa and residency options available. The Golden Visa Portugal program is an attractive option for many, offering residency to investors and their families. For those eyeing retirement in this beautiful country, the Retirement Visa (D7) is tailored for you. Digital nomads can take advantage of both short and long stay options with the Nomad Visa (D8). Meanwhile, the NHR - Non Habitual Tax regime provides significant tax benefits for new residents.
For the entrepreneurial spirit, Portugal offers the Entrepreneurship/startup Visa (D2) - Start-up Visa (open company) tailored for those looking to establish their businesses in the country. Those with specialized skills can explore the Work visa for highly qualified employees (D3). Additionally, if you have Portuguese ancestry, you might be eligible for Citizenship by descent.
However, moving to a new country isn't just about visas. If you're thinking of buying property, our guide on Buying Property in Portugal can offer invaluable insights. Dive deeper into the immigration process with our comprehensive Portugal immigration guide. For Americans specifically looking to relocate, we have curated information on Americans moving to Portugal. Lastly, one can't forget the importance of the NIF (Tax Registration Number), a crucial step in any relocation process.
Why choose Global Citizen Solutions for your Immigration Visa?
GLOBAL APPROACH BY LOCAL EXPERTS
- GCS has offices located across Portugal.
- Members of the US-Portugal and UK-Portugal Chambers of Commerce in Portugal, and the Investment Migration Council (IMC).
- Our expert team can help you throughout your journey to secure your Visa.
100% APPROVAL RATE
- Our successful track record in applications provides reassurance to applicants.
- We have helped clients from more than 35 countries secure residency in Portugal.
- With a single channel of communication, our approach ensures that you have complete clarity on your application.
- Our BeGlobal® Onboarding System allows for a total flow of information.
TRANSPARENCY AND PRIVACY
- Our pricing is clear and detailed, you will not face any hidden costs.
- All data is stored within a GDPR-compliant database on a secure SSL-encrypted server.
Frequently Asked Questions About Portuguese Banks
Which is the best bank in Portugal?
Among the best banks in Portugal are Caixa Geral de Depositos, Millennium BCP, and Novobanco, which are also the largest banks in the country.
What US banks have branches in Portugal?
The US bank Citibank has maintained a presence in Portugal since 1979.
Can I open a bank account in Portugal as a foreigner?
Yes, foreigners can open a bank account in Portugal. But first, they need to get a NIF (tax identification number) in Portugal and then go to a branch and open a bank account.
Can an American have a bank account in Portugal?
Yes, US citizens can open a bank account in Portugal. They need to get a NIF (tax identification number) in Portugal and then go to a branch and open a bank account.
What is the best bank account in Portugal for foreigners?
The best bank to open an account in Portugal for foreigners will depend on your personal circumstances and objectives. Some of the best banks in Portugal include Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Millenium BCP, Banco BPO, Novo Banco, and Banco Santander Totta.
Which bank has no fees in Portugal?
One bank that offers free banking in Portugal is ActivoBank, which is owned by Millennium.
What is the minimum amount to open a bank account in Portugal?
A minimum deposit of €250-300 in cash is usually requested when opening a bank account in Portugal.
Are the banks safe in Portugal?
Banks in Portugal are considered safe and well-regulated. Portugal has a stable and developed banking system that is subject to supervision and regulation by the Bank of Portugal (Banco de Portugal), the country’s central bank, as well as the European Central Bank (ECB) in accordance with European Union (EU) banking regulations.
Which international banks operate in Portugal?
There are several reputable international banks in Portugal, including Banco do Brasil, Banco Sabadell, BBVA, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citibank, Credit Suisse, ING, and Deutsche Bank.