4 Places to Open an EU Bank Account

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Written by: | Last updated on February 29, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 7 minutes
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Opening a bank account in the European Union (EU) can be a smart move for many, from those planning to move to an EU country like Portugal, or buying a property abroad, or travellers who want to make handling money easier while they’re on the road.

The main reason to get an EU bank account is to deal with money in Euros, the and to avoid currency rate fluctuations or the costs of moving currencies from one to another. This makes life simpler whether you’re getting paid, buying a property, or just withdrawing money without paying hefty fees.

If you’re moving to anywhere in the EU, including Portugal, having a local bank account is pretty much essential. It’s the key to setting up your new life smoothly, from paying for your new home to signing up for home internet.

For people just passing through, an EU bank account can help save money on fees that you might get hit with when you use a bank card from back home. Plus, with today’s tech, managing your money through an EU account can be done easily on your phone, making it super handy for staying on top of your finances, wherever you are. So, if you’re diving into life in the EU or just exploring for a while, an EU bank account could be just what you need to keep things running smoothly.

Millenium

Millennium BCP stands as one of Portugal’s premier banking institutions, boasting an extensive network of over 695 branches across mainland Portugal, as well as the islands of Madeira and the Azores. Its widespread presence and comprehensive banking services have made it a popular choice among both Portuguese residents and the expatriate community. The bank’s mobile app receives high praise for its user-friendly interface and functionality.

For those considering a move to Portugal, Millennium offers a solid banking option, providing the stability and services of a traditional bank with a full banking license. This contrasts with digital-only banks like Revolut, as Millennium BCP offers in-person services and support across its extensive branch network.

While opening an account with Millennium is not free, the benefits of having a physical bank that can address a wide range of financial needs can be invaluable, especially for newcomers settling in the country.

Services like Bordr and Anchorless simplify the process for expatriates by not only assisting with opening a bank account at institutions like Millennium but also obtaining a Portuguese tax number (NIF), which is essential for various transactions and legal processes in Portugal, including opening a Portuguese bank account.

While there is a cost associated with using such services, they offer a streamlined and hassle-free way to navigate the banking setup process. Alternatively, individuals have the option to open an account directly to Millennium BCP by visiting Portugal and going through the process in person, which might be more cost-effective but requires a bit more effort and understanding of the local system.

NovoBanco

NovoBanco is another significant player in the Portuguese banking landscape, having been established in 2014. With branches widely distributed across mainland Portugal, NovoBanco ensures accessibility and convenience for its customers, though it’s worth noting that its presence does not extend to the Azores.

Comparable to Millennium BCP, NovoBanco has developed a user-friendly app that facilitates easy and efficient online banking, enabling customers to manage their finances seamlessly while on the move. This digital tool is particularly appreciated by those accustomed to the convenience of modern banking solutions. Beyond basic banking services, NovoBanco, like Millennium BCP, also delves into insurance and mortgage offerings, providing a comprehensive suite of financial products. However, potential international clients should be aware that certain services, such as mortgages and insurance, may have restrictions or might not be fully accessible to those not planning to relocate to Portugal.

For expatriates and international investors eyeing Portugal for residency or investment, such as through the D7 or golden visa programs, NovoBanco represents a viable banking option. Its physical presence within Portugal lends credibility and is recognised for visa application processes, offering a smoother pathway to establishing financial roots in the country.

Additionally, the cost of opening an account with NovoBanco is generally lower than with Millennium BCP, according to various account opening services, such as E-Residence or Visas.pt. This affordability, combined with its comprehensive service offering and widespread branch network, positions NovoBanco as an attractive choice for those looking to navigate the Portuguese banking system.

Revolut

Revolut has quickly become a standout in the world of financial technology, making waves across Europe and beyond. This London-based powerhouse has attracted million of users worldwide, thanks to its innovative approach to online financial services. It’s not just limited to the EU and EEA; its global reach allows users from various corners of the planet to enjoy its features.

One of the biggest draws of Revolut is its flexibility with currencies. Users can effortlessly hold and manage their money in multiple currencies, such as USD and EUR, making it a favorite among travelers and international residents alike. The platform allows for free withdrawals in many places, including countries within the EU and the UK, making it incredibly convenient for those on the go. While withdrawals in the US might incur fees, this is more a reflection of local banking policies rather than a mark against Revolut.

Despite its broad utility, it’s important to note that Revolut operates primarily as an electronic money institution rather than a traditional bank in most jurisdictions. This distinction means that while it’s perfect for daily spending and international travel, it might not fully replace the need for a conventional bank account.

For example, if you’re moving to Portugal and need to prove financial stability for visa purposes, such as the D7 or D8, Revolut’s status means it does not meet the necessary criteria on its own, given that the company does not have a physical banking presence in Portugal.

It’s also worth mentioning that Revolut is one of several app-based banks such as Wise, Starling, N26, Monito, and Monese. All of these are fairly similar, however we’re mentioning Revolut as it’s available in many countries, including Portugal, the US, and UK.

Wise

Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, has established itself as a leading money transfer operator, renowned for facilitating some of the most cost-effective international transfers available worldwide. It’s highly regarded in the financial sector, so much so that it’s often ranked as the top money transfer service by various reviewers. Yet, Wise offers more than just transfer services; it provides a comprehensive financial solution through the Wise Multi-Currency Account.

The Wise Multi-Currency Account is an innovative product designed for those who need to manage money across borders. It’s particularly useful for travelers, expatriates, and online businesses, offering a low-cost way to spend and hold funds in foreign currencies. One of the standout features of this account is the provision of local bank details in a variety of regions including the US, Eurozone, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Romania, Canada, Hungary, and Turkey. This means users can receive money like a local in these countries, significantly simplifying international transactions.

Additionally, the account supports the holding, exchanging, and topping up of up to 56 different currencies, ensuring users can manage their money seamlessly across the globe. This functionality, combined with its competitive exchange rates and low fees, positions the Wise Multi-Currency Account as one of the best options on the market for anyone looking to minimize costs and maximize efficiency in managing international finances.

However, like Revolut, this is more of a spending account rather than a standard bank account. It’s not one that’s likely to be accepted for visa applications for the D7 or golden visa considering Wise doesn’t have a physical presence in Portugal.

Written by

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.