There are many different operators in Portugal, and understanding all the different plans and keeping track of all the extra fees they require you to pay can be downright nightmarish. So here’s a short overview of how things work in Portugal and some general idea of the options you can choose from.
Mobile operators in Portugal
There are currently three leading mobile operators in Portugal, MEO, Vodafone, and NOS. MEO now has the largest share in overall sales and has the most comprehensive coverage. Vodafone comes in close second and NOS third, primarily due to customer satisfaction. Many other smaller companies offer various deals, but their coverage and customer satisfaction often leave much to be desired.
SIM cards in Portugal
Instead of buying the device with your phone plans, you only buy a SIM card in Portugal. There are two kinds: pre-paid and a monthly plan. The pre-paid SIM card can be purchased without any documentation and can be bought at the news agent’s, phone company’s story, or online.
To get a monthly plan for your mobile phone, you need a tax number, known as a NIF, a valid ID, and proof of Portuguese address. If you’re staying in Portugal for less than a month, the pre-paid option is the best, but since it can get a little bit more expensive in the long run, it’s good to get the monthly plan for even just a few months living in Portugal. Some internet and cable TV plans also offer SIM cards as part of their deal, so be sure to check those out.
SIM cost comparisons in Portugal
Pre-paid SIM cards from MEO cost around €10, and you can top up your credit with as little as €5. A Vodafone pre-paid SIM card costs only a few euros, and you top it up with a minimum of €5 in €5 increments. The NOS pre-paid SIM card costs about the same as the Vodafone one. As for the monthly plans, the unlimited monthly plan by MEO, which lets you call and text to all operators without restrictions and gives you unlimited mobile internet data, starts at about €35.
Vodafone has a similar plan which also costs around the same. As you can see, the prices don’t differ that much between the various phone operators. Other plans are difficult to compare. Usually, the best strategy is to go to one of the physical shops and talk to the staff of the phone operator. They will recommend you various plans and may even change them a little to suit your needs better. It’s far more important to choose an operator with decent customer satisfaction than to worry about a few euros difference in prices.