Since Portugal has joined the European Union, it has had the Euro as its currency. But how easy or difficult is it to pay with a card or with cash? And which credit cards are best to have? To answer all of these and more questions, we put together this helpful summary of the essential pieces of info about money in Porto.
Credit Cards in Porto
Since Porto is a large city, the use of credit cards is relatively standard. You will find ATMs for Mastercard, Visa, and American Express all around the city - you can use apps by these companies to locate them. ATMs have a daily limit of €200 for bank transfers and €400 for cash withdrawals. While good for ATMs, American Express may not be accepted in all restaurants and even shops.
The rule of thumb for American Express is that the smaller the establishment is, the less likely it is they will accept this card. Portugal, and by extension Porto, focuses on transactions through an integrated system that connects many state and private banks called Multibanco. This system lets you do many things at once, including a bank transfer, paying social security, charging your mobile credit, or even paying your tax.
Overall, the Multibanco system has over 90 unique functions and is a handy tool. You can gain access to Multibanco with Visa and Mastercard credit cards or by setting up a Portuguese bank account. Lastly, we need to talk about checks. Checks are a very unpopular type of payment in Portugal.
Very few banks give you a chequebook without a fee, and the legislation around checks makes it a criminal offence to issue a check if you don’t have the money to cover it. Together with Multibanco services described above, it is unlikely you’ll need checks in Porto. However, banks and any more significant or multinational organizations and corporations will have ways of processing cheques, so you can still use them there.
Cash in Porto
While the average amount of cash Portuguese people carry with them has been steadily declining (averaging at about €29 in the past few years), cash is still a smart way of doing money transactions. There are barely any places that will not accept cash so having at least a few hundred euros for your few months living in Porto is a good idea.
However, when you run out of cash, there can be some issues you need to be mindful of. Firstly, if you brought your home currency and want to exchange it for euros, it is often recommended to check the exchange rate online first. That way, you can see if any exchange booth you find doesn't give you too much of an unfavourable rate (there will always be a difference, though, as the exchange booths need a fee off of every transaction, which they add to their rates).
Secondly, make sure you pay good attention to your credit card when you withdraw money from an ATM. There have been reports of scammers hacking ATMs by putting their own scanners and keypads onto existing ones. If the card does not feel smooth in the machine or the keys feel unresponsive, make sure you immediately cancel your transaction and move to a different ATM.