Can I Get A Free Bank Account in Portugal?

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Last updated on June 4, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you’re moving to Portugal, you’ll probably need to open a Portuguese bank account. And you’re probably wondering if there are any bank accounts that don’t charge monthly fees. 

Most banks in Portugal charge a maintenance fee. This is typically between €4 and €8, depending on the type of account. 

If you’re opening a bank account from abroad, which many people need to do when applying for residency, you may not have a huge selection. Online services like Bordr and E-residence work with one bank typically: Bordr works with Millennium bcp and E-residence with Novo Banco, and both the accounts these companies are able to open typically come with monthly fees. You may have to deal with monthly fees until you move to Portugal and are able to open an account with another bank. 

One bank that offers free banking in Portugal is ActivoBank, which is owned by Millennium bcp. Activobank mainly has branches in Lisbon and Porto, so it may not be suitable for everyone (check branch locations here). To open a bank account, you’ll need to visit an ActivoBank branch. If you’re already a resident in Portugal, you can open an account online. (Foreigners can open a bank account in Portugal; the main criteria is usually whether you’re resident in Portugal or not).

Another option is Portuguese app-based bank, Moey. Again, you will need to be resident in Portugal. 

With the exception of Activobank, most Portuguese banks charge a maintenance fee, although some may waive it if you hold a high enough balance. Additionally, some banks offer free banking for young adults. 

If you’re looking for the closest thing to free banking, you can ask for a basic bank account or conta de serviços mínimos bancários. A basic bank account comes with a debit card, online banking, and direct debits, so it’s suitable for most people living in Portugal. The Bank of Portugal sets a maximum annual fee for basic bank accounts which, in 2022, was no more than €4.35.

What about banks like Revolut and N26? Although these banks allow you to hold money in euros, they aren’t Portuguese banks. This means that they typically can’t be used for a residency visa application (such as the D7) and they won’t have multibanco support, allowing you to easily pay your bills. They are, however, suitable for withdrawing money from Portuguese ATMs and will be accepted in a lot of Portuguese stores. 

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

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  1. i need to open bank account in Active bank, can you confirm what is the procedure to open account and still i can’t get residence card in Portugal.

  2. Today was stellar – I visited the Portuguese Finanças office in Madeira at Av. Calouste Gulbenkian 2, without an appointment, presented my Canadian passport with bank statement proving my Canadian address, and got my NIF papers without any problems. Half an hour later, I presented the whole packet at Banco Montepio across the street, passed the bank’s compliance process, and will be back tomorrow to pick up my MasterCard debit card. Say “hi” to Marco at the banco. 😉


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