Finding yourself a bank account in Portugal can be challenging since it depends on what your exact needs are.
But don’t worry.
This is why we’ve done some research and put together the best bank accounts for each situation and need you might want, to make your life easier.
Quick Result: Our personal favorite Bank Account in Portugal is with N26. Open an account with them here!
If you are planning to come to or have already arrived in Portugal, you will need a Portuguese bank account to do things like pay rent, register for a phone or internet plan, and most other things in Portugal.
Though if you already have an EU bank account, businesses should recognize it when you want to register for things. But it’s always a huge hassle because you don’t fit the “standard” case. So, you’ll definitely prefer to have a Portuguese bank account.
You’ll also want to have a Portuguese bank account so that you can withdraw cash from local ATMs without paying fees.
So, in short, depending on your profile, these are the 3 best bank accounts in Portugal:
- N26: Best Online Bank for non-Portuguese speakers
- Bunq: Best Online Bank for sustainable investing
- Millennium BCP: Best Traditional Bank
- ActivoBank: Best Online Bank backed by a Traditional Bank
For a longer explanation of why we think these are the best bank accounts and what they offer, read below.
But first, its important to understand some terms found in Portugal that you might not understand.
If you want to skip ahead to the comparison, click here
What is a NIF and do I need it?
The NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal) is the tax identification number used in Portugal and is needed for any transactions and most legal matters in Portugal such as buying a property, opening a bank account, registering for a gym, utilities, etc.
How do I apply for an NIF?
To apply for a NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal), locate and register for an NIF at the nearest Finanças (government tax office). Make sure you bring your passport and proof of address.
The whole process should take around 20 minutes once you’re in the doors and there isn’t a large queue. To help avoid problems, try arriving 15 minutes early before opening time so that you can skip having to deal with a queue.
Now, moving on the best bank accounts in Portugal.
Overview & Comparison: Best Bank accounts in the Netherlands
N26: Best mobile digital bank for non-Portuguese speakers
- Best mobile app interface
- Multi-lingual support
- Excellent free base account
- Zero fee transactions
- Excellent benefits for higher-tier accounts
About N26: Why we like it
One of the real upcoming giants in the digital world of banking is N26. Launched in 2015, it now has a full European Banking license, operating in 25 markets worldwide with over 5 million customers.
Your money is safe as can be in this digital bank since it is supervised by the Financial Markets Regulator. This means that clients’ funds are guaranteed up to €100,000 by the Deposit Protection Fund.
What does N26 offer and how do its different tiers work?
N26 offers “zero exchange fees on card payments in any currency” which is really useful for any of you who like to travel.
Since the bank account comes along with a free Mastercard Debit card (and an optional Maestro Card), your ability to pay should be accepted pretty much everywhere.
The sign-up process is short and can be easily be done completely in English, as well as French, German, Italian and Spanish. Which is a huge bonus over other banks if you struggle with Portuguese.
It is important to note though, that you will need some form of EU/EFTA residence to open an account.
To give you a quick rundown on the 3 tiers N26 offers, here it goes.
The Basic N26 Bank account
The standard N26 bank account, with all its basic functions, is free and doesn’t charge any opening or maintenance fees at all.
With it, you can gain access to its online and mobile banking with a super easy-to-use app. And make unlimited payments in any currency anywhere in the world with your card or phone. Also, you can withdraw cash for free from ATMs up to 3 times per month.
The interface is honestly great, along with fantastic customer support to help you with everything.
You can even set up 2 sub-accounts with features to help you budget and manage your money to meet your financial goals.
It also uses artificial intelligence to “automatically categorize your spending”. So you can see the total amount you’re spending in each category. You can even create your own #tags categories – “#gifts # friends #eatingout, you name it.”
N26 also makes it pretty simple and easy to use in exporting your transaction information and downloading it as a CSV or PDF file to make your tax returns and invoicing easier.
For higher levels of features, you can upgrade to a N26 You account for €9.90 per month.
This increases your free cash withdrawals in the Eurozone to 5 times per month. Also, you now can have unlimited free ATM cash withdrawals worldwide in any currency outside the Eurozone. You also get some extra-poppy debit card colours to choose from.
N26 You gives you a whole travel insurance package to protect you with Medical insurance, Trip insurance, Flight insurance and Luggage coverage.
This definitely helps for people who like to travel by giving you peace of mind that you’re covered against any unpleasant surprises.
If you thought you weren’t insured enough, it also provides mobility insurance for shared vehicles, covering you for damages of up to €20,000. There’s also Winter sport insurance in case of accidents on trips to mountains.
N26 You also increases the number of sub-accounts you can create. From the basic 2, to up to 10 sub-accounts so that you can better organise your money and save for different goals and projects.
Finally, N26 You grants you premium partner offers and discounts with world-class brands. Which is a huge bonus for those who like to buy things from those partners anyways.
You might even end up saving more through the discounts than what you actually pay in the monthly fee. So, this is definitely a great option to consider.
Then, if you want to upgrade to the highest level of N26 Metal for €16,90 per month, you get to choose from 3 metallic shades to get a stainless-steel debit card.
Now on top of the N26 You benefits, your Eurozone withdrawals increase to 8 per month. Also, you’re given Car rental insurance for your rental care hires away from home of up to €20,000 as well as Phone insurance of up to €1,000 against theft and damages if the event and phone are eligible.
N26 Metal expands on the previous offers and discounts with their partners to bring Metal customers “access benefits and bespoke rewards” to complement your everyday, “from hard-to-find tickets, VIP passes to private events, unique workshops and memorable days out”.
You’re also given a dedicated priority phone line so you can call them to sort out any questions you have immediately.
Whilst some people might think N26 Metal is a bit ‘extra’ for most normal people above the N26 You, given the relatively cheap price tag versus the benefits, its actually a very attractive bank account tier to go for.
Of course, which one of the 3 tiers of accounts best fits you personally is up to you decide.
If you want the most basic version there is, the standard N26 account works best.
For more dedicated features, offers and support for those who might like to travel with extra perks and benefits, N26 You and N26 Metal are definitely the best for you.
N26 Bottom line:
N26 is definitely the best digital bank to use for travellers and people who aren’t super comfortable with Portuguese.
It’s very simple to use and has the best digital app interface there is. And with the higher tiers, it can offer some of the best packages of perks and services that you would want.
The only possible downside is that since it is fully online and there aren’t any physical branches you can visit in Portugal, you don’t have anyone you can talk to face-to-face to help sort out any questions you might have.
But since they always have an online chat support and even a dedicated phone line for Metal customers, you should have no real problems getting your questions sorted out. They are well known for their high customer satisfaction and service.
Bunq: Best for sustainable investing
- Great for choosing how your money is invested
- Very advanced money management features
- In English
- Only worth it with higher tiers that cost a monthly fee
About Bunq: Why we like it
Bunq is another one of the up-and-coming digital banks. Founded in 2015, this Dutch Bank is similar to N26 with its 3 tiers of accounts (Travel, Premium, and SuperGreen) and helpful interface and support.
Besides the online banking, it has extra unique features in creating sub-accounts and budgeting.
It automates a lot of things like its auto-save feature that rounds up payments to the nearest euro and deposits that money into specific sub-accounts. Or other things like automatic payment of invoices via scanning, making life a lot easier for you.
You also have the choice of having up to 3 cards of Maestro and Mastercard Debit cards, as well as a Mastercard credit card.
But what really sets apart from the rest is the “Freedom of Choice” in allowing you to choose if and how your money is invested.
Unlike other traditional big banks that might invest in funds and industries that might conduct unsustainable practices, with Bunq you can have more say in where your money is invested.
If you go for the highest tier of the SuperGreen card, on top of its advanced money management features, you also make the world greener by planting a tree every time you spend €100.
Bunq Bottom Line:
Bunq is a great option for those who want advanced features in the management of your money and how it is used sustainably. It also has some of the best ratings in customer service and satisfaction.
It is worth noting the downside that if you use the most basic free Travel Card plan, the number of features you have access to is really restricted. There are even fees for services such as a €0.99 fee for ATM withdrawals using the basic Travel Card plan.
So to really bring out the best of Bunq and its free great features, you will need to upgrade to one of the higher tiers and have to pay a monthly fee.
Also, Bunq will generally provide you with a Dutch IBAN which may cause some issues when signing up to register for certain things like a phone or internet plan.
But, the law states that Portuguese businesses must accept any valid IBANs from an EU country. So if you encounter any problems or issues inputting your IBAN in an online form, a quick call or email will usually solve your problems.
Millennium BCP: Best Traditional Bank
- Massive Network of ATMs and physical branches
- Wide offerings of accounts available, easy to find one suited to you
- Access to more complex financial services for your needs
- Very low fees, great for foreigners and young adults
About Millennium BCP: Why we like it
For those of you who don’t want to handle all of your banking and finances online on your laptop or phone, then Millennium BCP is one of the best choices for you.
As the largest bank in Portugal, they have one of the best reputations in the country. Their ATM and physical branch network is absolutely massive, making sure you’ll never have any issues finding them and accessing their services in any urban center in the country.
They also have many different types and tiers of accounts available, making it easy to find one that best fits you and your needs.
Their offerings are especially friendly to younger adults and students, often giving you access to their whole range of benefits of a current account for no cost at all.
As expected with a traditional bank, unlike the previous banks on this list, with Millennium BCP you’ll also be able to access more complex financial services such as savings accounts, mortgages, loans, etc.
Making it a great candidate if you want all your financial needs to be serviced by one bank. So that you don’t have the headache of dealing with multiple banks.
Also, as part of their expanded list of offerings, they’re extremely open to non-residents as well, with great English support and benefits for expats that make it an attractive place to bank with at a very low cost.
Millennium BCP Bottom Line:
Millennium BCP ends up being a great choice overall as a bank in Portugal, with all the warm physical services you would expect to find at a traditional bank.
Their massive ATM and branch network grants you the best access to cash and support for anything you might need versus all the other traditional banks in Portugal.
Combine this with a stellar reputation and great customer satisfaction, this is definitely a hard bank to beat in the traditional banking landscape.
The only real downside could be that even though the accounts offered come at a very low cost, given it still maintains physical branches, their accounts don’t come completely free of maintenance costs.
On this note, it might definitely be worth checking out their subsidiary bank ActivoBank, which is actually the next recommended bank on this list.
ActivoBank: Best Online Bank backed by a Traditional Bank
- Access to massive Millenium BCP ATM network and financial services
- Great customer service
- Free to use
- Great App interface with English support
About ActivoBank: Why we like it
Acting as the online-only version of Millennium BCP, ActivoBank gives you access to a current account with all its benefits for free.
The mobile app has a very nice design and usability, with nice features to help you manage your transactions and help you automatically save money when you make or receive payments.
Since it is part of Millennium BCP you also gain access to free cash withdrawals from any of the huge network of Millennium BCP ATMs. Which means you’ll never have any issues getting cash if you need to.
The sign-up process for it is super simple and verification takes place via video, allowing you to be able to set up an account in 10 minutes or so.
Even though it offers its online banking in both English and Portuguese, the sign-up steps themselves are in Portuguese only. So you’ll need to use google translate or have a Portuguese speaking friend with you when you want to sign up.
They’re also known for having great customer support due to their traditional parent bank roots, with dedicated managers you can speak to online or via a call.
Another great thing about being backed by a traditional bank is that you will also have access to the more complex financial services such as insurances, mortgages, personal loans and investments.
This connection to the traditional banking world really helps set ActivoBank apart from the others and gives you the best from both worlds.
ActivoBank Bottom Line:
Overall, AcitvoBank is definitely a great choice of a bank to have and gives you great access to a lots of services and benefits with no monthly maintenance costs at all.
It benefits greatly from its parent bank Millennium BCP, giving it access to its huge ATM network, complex financial services and investments, as well as dedicated banking advisors for a great customer experience.
On top, it’s the only purely-online bank on this list that gives you a Portuguese IBAN, meaning that you’ll definitely never encounter any problems setting up payments when registering for things versus other banks that might give you a non-Portuguese IBAN.
The only potential downside is that its sign-up process is only in Portuguese, making it a little harder for people who aren’t fully comfortable with the local language.
But, once you get past that, the English access is great and the support you get is fantastic.
Things to know about Portuguese Bank accounts
Just a quick 2 min read about the most common issues we see with our readers:
How do I open a checking account at these banks or any other bank in Portugal?
Opening a checking account with a bank in Portugal is relatively simple to do and can be done relatively quickly (in 30 minutes or so) if you do their sign-up process in person and even shorter if done online.
Digital Banks like N26 or ActivoBank offer sign-up processes that are usually much shorter. And they can be done from the comfort of your phone or laptop where you can scan your documents using your webcam or phone camera.
But usually there are some information or document requirements which may vary from bank to bank. If you follow this list, you should be pretty safe.
Usual requirements for opening checking accounts in Portugal:
- Completed application form with Name, Address, Nationality, Income, etc
- Valid Passport or ID (if you are opening a joint account with another person, make sure they have their documents too)
- Proof of address or registration (like a recent utility bill or “Burgerservicenummer”)
- Initial Deposit (depends on your bank how much they will require as a minimum)
- Proof of income, employment or enrolment at a Portuguese educational institution
- Tax Identification number (Número de Identificação Fiscal) that you can obtain from a Finanças
Whether you are a resident or not will also affect what type of current account you can have (“resident” or “non-resident” account) and which banks you can sign up with.
Its best to check out their websites or speak with them directly to find out. They’re usually very helpful in giving you the information you need.
International online banks like Bunq or N26 usually tend to be the easiest and most open to non-residents, but it’s also worth checking out traditional ones like Millennium BCP.
How to close or change bank accounts in Portugal
Closing or switching bank accounts is pretty simple to do in Portugal as long as you don’t owe the bank any money.
Usually there tends to be a “closing account order” application or letter you need to complete and sign. Or, you can either visit a physical branch or call them and they’re usually very friendly in helping you out in closing your account.
Make sure to ask that you’re following all the correct requirements and don’t have any fees that you have not paid off yet.
Things you have to make sure to do are:
- Make sure you don’t get charged any penalty fees for closing the account before a specified “minimum” time has elapsed since you opened the account.
- Get written confirmation in the form of a letter or email that the account has officially been closed
- If you’re switching over to a new account, transfer over all future incoming and outgoing payments such as direct debits, salaries, or standing orders. Usually either the old bank or the new bank that your switching to will take care of this if you ask.
- Make sure you’ve transferred all your money out of the old account and into the new account.
- Let your employer and, others who would transfer money to you, know that your old account will no longer work.
So overall you can see, choosing a bank account can be hard at first, but becomes easier if you know what exactly that you want. So, try to make a list of the things that are important to you such as language or having physical branches, etc.
Then, try visiting their websites or even physical branches if they have any, to check out the different accounts (if they have more than one) and other products that they offer. You should be able to get a feeling for the banks pretty quickly and which one suits you.
If you feel comfortable with these banks you may even want to get more products from them like a savings accounts to earn interest on your money.
Once you’ve developed a relationship with your bank, later on you might even get a business account, loan or mortgage from them once you develop a bit of credit history that they can evaluate you on.
But don’t worry too much about it if you end up opening an account with a bank which you don’t end up liking later. Banks in Portugal allow you to close an account and switch over to another pretty easily and without a hassle.
Keep in mind though that I personally find it very useful to have two checking accounts instead of just one. So that in case there is ever an issue with one, you can still access your money in the other, so you’re not left stranded with no money.
Personally, I’ve become a fan of the online digital banks because of how simple and easy it is to do everything with banks like N26 or Bunq from the comfort of my phone or laptop. But of course, you should only do so if you’re comfortable with doing all your banking online.
On the other hand though, online banks tend to not offer more complex financial management services like loans, health insurance or mortgages that you would find at a traditional bank. So, if you want some of those more complex products, you might need to look at more traditional banks like Millennium BCP.
But don’t worry. You can easily have a checking account at an online bank and still have other more complex products from other banks.
If you’re arriving in Portugal soon, make sure to sort out your bank account sooner rather than later in case there are any delays, depending on the bank you sign up with. Life will be a lot more difficult if you don’t have one.
In the end, it is up to you and what you need that will decide which is the best bank for you. Hopefully this article will have helped you with it.
Good luck with opening a bank account in Portugal. If you have any questions or want us to write another post on something else too, let us know here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a foreigner or non-resident open a bank account in Portugal?
A person of any nationality can open a bank account in Portugal, but some banks might require at least a residence in Portugal or in the EU/EFTA region depending on the accounts available.
If you are a non-resident, you will only be able to open a non-resident account and you might be subject to higher interest rates and might be limited in some services at Portuguese banks. Traditional banks sometimes have a dedicated department for setting up non-resident/international accounts.
Usually, it tends to be the online banks that are the most open with residence requirements and some even allow residence from pretty much anywhere in the world.
But it is important to check with a bank yourself if they accept your country of residence. You can usually do so on the website or during the sign-up process.
Can I have two bank accounts in Portugal?
Yes, you can have as many bank accounts as you like in Portugal. Just be aware of the extra hassle and possibly extra cost if you go for accounts that charge monthly fees.
Even if you go with a “free” account as the extra one, check that you keep meeting the minimum flow of income if it is required to keep them from charging you a fee. Some banks tend to do this, so check in case.
Can I keep my Portuguese bank accounts even after I leave Portugal?
Yes, you can keep your Portuguese bank accounts even after you leave Portugal. But be aware of some changes that might happen with how you handle your account.
Some banks might charge you fees if you have a resident account but are no longer a resident in Portugal.
Also, your tax status may change, or some banks may not be able to send you important notifications and PIN numbers if you change to a foreign number.
But these things vary a lot from bank to bank and its best to ask them and they should be happy to help. Overall, it is usually very helpful to keep your account since it might come in handy later.
If it’s a resident account at a traditional bank that charges a lot of fees if you are no longer a resident, then it might be better to close the account. In this sense, N26 is known to be very friendly since they don’t require Portuguese residency and the NIF.
How long do applications for bank accounts in Portugal take?
Once you’ve booked and arrived at the appointment made at the physical branch, standard traditional banks usually take a half an hour to a few days to open your account.
They usually tend to take longer than digital banks since they sometimes need to send you documents or debit cards to your address.
Online digital banks instead usually approve and open your bank account for you within 24 hours if not immediately.
How can I set up an overdraft?
The process to set up an overdraft will depend on the bank itself and will often have very different policies and requirements. Usually, you have to complete an overdraft application form in order to set up the facility for an overdraft in case you might need it.
Digital banks tend to reply and approve/reject your application within a few days or even within the same day.
On the other end, traditional banks can sometimes take weeks to process your application.
Be aware that some banks tend to be quite strict with their overdrafts and may require months of credit history before accepting an application.
Banks will also differ in the amount they allow for you to have on your overdraft. Some will allow a fixed amount (such as up to €10,000 for an N26 overdraft) or an amount relative to your average net monthly income.
But be careful with your overdraft and make sure to pay it off as quickly as possible to avoid the interest charges (which vary from bank to bank).
What is the minimum age to open a bank account in Portugal?
Usually, banks require a minimum age of 18 in order to open your own bank account, but this can vary from bank to bank in their process and requirements, especially for digital banks.
Normally, banks tend to allow parents or legal guardians to open bank accounts for their children if they are under the age of 18.
Can I open a bank account for my children?
Yes, you can open a bank account for your child if they are under the age of 18.
Remember that you will need to provide the ID or Passport for both you and your child. Some banks might require that the parent needs to already have an account with the same bank too.