A guide to using ATMs in Portugal

By | Last updated: May 20, 2020
"I live in Portugal, I've travelled to almost every part of Portugal, and one day I hope to write a book about Portugal."

Full Transparency: This article may contain affiliate links. This basically means that Portugalist might earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase through the links in this article. This is at no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards in any way.

In Portugal, there are basic ATMs and there are also Multibancos. Multibancos in Portugal aren’t just used for withdrawing cash; you can also use them to pay utility bills, pay your VAT, pay your income tax, pay for concert tickets, and pay your social security contributions.

All of this is quite impressive until you’re stuck behind somebody who’s doing all of those things and, yes, sometimes people do spend 10 or 20 minutes doing all of those things.

Unfortunately, you will need to visit the ATM quite a bit when you visit Portugal. Although Portuguese card machines have gotten a lot better at reading non-Portuguese bank cards, it’s still a good idea to carry cash on you. Even if you do end up paying by card – for example, at a restaurant – it’s a good idea to have some cash on you for the tip.

TransferWise Debit Card
Free Mastercard debit card to spend money abroad.
Spend in any currency and have money converted at the mid-market rate.
Withdraw $250 cash/ month fee free every 30 rolling days
Freeze & unfreeze card instantly via the app
Visit Transferwise.com

Bank fees: it’s probably your bank

Most banks (everywhere in the world) charge you if you withdraw money when you’re abroad. Sometimes it’s a set fee (e.g. €2 per withdrawal), sometimes it’s a percentage (e.g. 5% of whatever you’re withdrawing), or sometimes it’s a combination of both.

Now, most countries have at least one bank that’s travel friendly. In the UK, Metro Bank is pretty good for travel within Europe. Revolt and N26, the app-based banks, are also very travel-friendly and available throughout Europe. Unfortunately, you’ll have to open those accounts in advance of your trip to Portugal: there’s not a lot that you can do once you’re here except work out which of your bank cards charges the lowest fees for use abroad.

Of course, there are exceptions like Euronet ATMs.

Warning: Euronet ATMs

Euronet ATMs

When going to an ATM, it’s best to go to an official bank ATM like Santander, BPI, Crédito Agrícola, etc. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, if your bank card gets stuck in the ATM (it’s happened to me before) you can just go into the bank and get it back.

Secondly, and most importantly, their fees (if any) are going to be reasonable unlike say Euronet ATMs which have been popping up all over Portugal. The last time I used one of these was in Germany, and I was charged a €5 ATM fee and I shouldn’t have been charged anything. I think I only withdrew €20.

The worst part: it never said “this is going to charge you, do you wish to proceed?” I didn’t know until I was checking my bank statements a few days later.

These ATMs are now all over Portugal, but especially Lisbon, Porto, Madeira, and the Algarve. They’re usually blue and yellow (the logo is blue and white) and are usually placed somewhere that’s incredibly convenient.

Avoid them if at all costs. You’ll typically pay a fee of somewhere between 7.5% and 20% on whatever you withdraw.

ATM Limits

Most ATMs have a withdrawal limit of €200 per day. That’s enough cash to last for a few days, but not for an entire week. The problem isn’t having to go to the Multibanco, but whether your bank back home will issue a fee every time you make a withdrawal.

Some banks charge a fee that’s a percentage of the total withdrawal, while others charge a fee for every withdrawal or both.

To avoid ATM fees, you should:

  • Pay online, where possible: Hotels, train tickets, and car hire can all be booked online.
  • Order currency before you go to Portugal: Visit your bank, Bureau de Change, or online currency shop and get Euros sent to you before you leave for Portugal. (Normally the latter is the cheapest option).
  • Pay by card, where possible: While many banks charge for ATM withdrawals abroad, some credit cards can be used abroad without incurring any fee. If this is the case, save your cash and use your card when you can.

Should I accept the conversion?

If you are trying to use a non-Euro bank account at the ATM (for example: Sterling or Dollars) you will be asked whether you want to accept the ATM’s conversion rate or go with the as yet unknown conversion rate that your bank will give you.

You are always better off saying no and going with whatever conversion rate your bank offers you. It will almost always be better than the rate the ATM offers you.

6-digit pins?

When the ATM asks for your pin, you might see space for six digits e.g. – – – – – –

All you need to do is enter 4.

I’ve never actually met anyone who has a 6-digit ATM pin, but there must be some reasoning to it.

TransferWise Debit Card
Free Mastercard debit card to spend money abroad.
Spend in any currency and have money converted at the mid-market rate.
Withdraw $250 cash/ month fee free every 30 rolling days
Freeze & unfreeze card instantly via the app
Visit Transferwise.com
About this article
This article was first published in October 2017. It was last updated on May 20, 2020.
Corrections & Suggestions
We try to keep articles as up-to-date and as error-free as possible so, if you spot a mistake or have a suggestion for the article, please let us know.
How Portugalist earns money
This article may contain affiliate links. This basically means that Portugalist might earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase through the links in this article. This is at no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards in any way.
Portugalist.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon (.es, .co.uk, .de etc) and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC.

50 thoughts on “A guide to using ATMs in Portugal”

  1. We made a €200 withdrawal yesterday at one of these Euronet ATM’s in Tavira. A check of our account at home revealed an exchange rate of 1.75% vs a selling rate of 1.58% against the Canadian dollar.
    Usurious treatment.

    Reply
  2. Thank you for the information. This is our 7th year visiting Carvoeiro and sadly this year we are finding that a number of bank cash machines are not accepting our Canadian debit cards and when we find one most of the time we get asked twice during the transaction if we want to use Multibanco’s exchange rate. Their rate is approximately 15% higher than our bank charges so one must be very careful when using them.

    This is a sad turn of events as it seems as though Portuguese banks are now trying to cheat unsuspecting visitors.

    Reply
    • Hi Terry,

      I’m not sure what the situation is as it’s mainly been Canadians who’ve had this issue (based on the comments here). If it was a case that Portuguese banks wanted to cheat visitors, I would expect a lot more comments from other nationalities as well.

      Don’t get me wrong, Portuguese banks aren’t saints. It just doesn’t make sense that they would target Canadian visitors and not the rest of the world as well.

      Reply
  3. Currently in Madeira where two different bank ATMs (including Santander) asked us to accept an exchange rate equivalent to a 13E charge on a 100E withdrawal. This is not obvious until you get out your calculator. I am shocked

    Reply
  4. We started a withdrawal at an ATM at the airport in Lisbon and then cancelled it when we saw the fees and exchange rate however the amount we entered has now appeared as a pending deduction on our bank statement. What has happened here – we are now less 190 euros in our bank account and never actually completed the transaction or received the cash?

    Reply
    • Hi Suzanne,

      This is probably more of a question for your bank, but I imagine it’ll stay as pending for a few days (especially if it took place over the weekend) and then disappear.

      Reply
  5. Very interesting information…thanks for posting. One thing I have noticed in Portugal (The Algarve) is that when we used our credit card in the local Intermarche supermarket, we were asked for ID. Similarly, we saw another English couple asked for ID using their credit card in a restaurant. Luckily, in our case, the till operator was lenient and let me sign the chit, but warned that if I wanted to use my card again, I must bring ID. I must stress this was a credit card, not a debit card. I don’t know if you need ID for a debit card.

    Reply
  6. Hi
    I have been fined Eur 6.62 for passing a toll station. I have the reference numbers for paying using a Portugese bank but I am now back in the UK and we don’t seem to have the same system for paying bills. Any ideas?
    Thank you
    Ann Thomas

    Reply
    • Hi Ann,

      Not sure.

      It sounds like you have the multibanco payment system which, as you say, is unique to Portuguese banks.

      I think you’ll need to contact them and say that you need to do a bank transfer and ask them what you should use as the reference number. They may have a system for paying by card as well.

      Failing that, https://www.pagamentodeportagens.pt/ is supposed to be suitable for non-Portuguese residents to use.

      Reply
  7. First of all, I am grateful that you provide a stern warning about EURO-NET ATM machines and their rip-off tactics. So I knew I had to stay with Multibanco machines. I am using a Canadian-issued debit card and a Canadian-issued credit card (VISA). After more than two dozen occasions, I can state with conviction that all Multibanco machines refuse the debit cards with the same screen “Operation not Authorized”. However, a cash advance on the VISA card worked on two different occasions (on the same machines that had just refused my bank debit card), and again, I am grateful for the advice to decline (twice!) the “offer” of a portuguese bank conversion.
    I checked my credit card statement, and the rate I obtained is sensationally close to the official conversion rate. I will now have to pay “cash advance interest” until I have the opportunity to square up with my bank, but that amounts to less than 10% of the penalty I would have paid, had I used the EURO-NET rip-off machines. So, overall, I am happy that the VISA cash advance worked, but I am still puzzled, why Multibanco refuse Canadian bank cards. I have used the same bank card successfully (this year!) in Shanghai, Hongkong, Paris, Zurich, San Francisco, Vienna and Venice (and at home in Canada), only to have had it refused in Porto and Lisboa. Go figure…

    Reply
    • Hi Meinrad,

      Thanks for the advice. That’s all really useful.

      No idea why it’s getting refused. It doesn’t make sense, but at least you had a backup 🙂

      Reply
      • “Operation not Authorized” message appears on all Multibanco cash withdrawal attempts when we use our RBC bank cards. It used to work fine last month and now it doesn’t…
        Tellers in the bank are of no help. They suggest to check with your bank…
        We did there’s nothing wrong with our cards according to RBC customer service.
        Visa cash advances go smoothly, no problems there.
        It’s a mystery…

        Reply
        • Hi DJ,

          No idea unfortunately, but it does seem like there’s an issue with Canadian debit cards as Meinrad had the same issue.

          At least you’re able to do cash advances.

          Reply
          • Hi,

            I am also from Canada and currently travelling into Portugal. I have a Desjardins card. I was able to withdraw money 2-3 weeks ago but I now get the same message as DJ and Meinrad.

            My institution in Canada couldn’t help nor did the people at the banks I visited..

            Any idea what could cause such problem recently?

            Thanks!
            Tristan

            Reply
            • Hi Tristan,

              I have no idea. It mainly seems to be Canadians that are having this problem, so it’s strange that none of the banks in Canada know anything about it.

              Reply
  8. Apparently there is a new screen and it appears that you have to opt-out TWICE now to have your own bank do the conversion rate – can somebody confirm exactly what the second screen means ?

    Reply
    • Hi Simon,

      Yes, they ask you twice. You need to click no to the conversion rate each time.

      I guess it’s another attempt to convince you to go with their conversion rate.

      Reply
  9. Hi James, I’m presently in Lisbon and was worried about ATM fees and wanted to share my positive experience. I heeded your advice and stayed away from the Euronet ATMs (which really are everywhere!). I looked for an ATM that was attached to the wall of a physical bank and found two at a BPI bank location. Nothing on the ATM or its user interface lead me to believe it was officially a BPI ATM but since there were two and they looked pretty similar to how an American bank would do an ATM, I rolled the dice anyways. When using the ATM, I needed to decline the Euro-> USD conversion twice (Want to convert? Are you sure you don’t want to convert??) and I was never prompted for a bank fee the transaction (like I’m accustomed to in the USA) which really scared me. The ATM supported up to 6 digits for a PIN, but mine was only four.
    My US bank is Ally, whose service states they charge “up to 1%” for foreign transaction fees. The Euro -> USD conversion rate was 1:1.10 on the day I took out the money. I took out €200 which showed up in my Ally statement as $222.85. I don’t know if the ATM charged a fee or Ally charged me very little, but that comes to a cost of only $2.85 for using the ATM. I’m happy!

    Reply
    • Hey Richard,

      Thanks so much for sharing your positive ATM story! So glad I could help.

      Yes, the 6 digit pin is a bit confusing. I should make a note of that in the article.

      Reply
  10. My wife’s wallet was stolen in Lisbon. She is about to go to Porto. Anyone know of any touchless ATMs in Porto where she’d be able to get cash via our ATM card that she just set up with Apple Pay?

    Reply
  11. I need to pay a bill to a private doctor in the Algarve, what is the sequence on an ATM machine, I have the identity and reference numbers, do I assume the payment is for private and obviously not state, always confused with the ATM

    Reply
  12. I was in Lisbon 2 weeks ago and used my US ATM card at several MultiBanco ATMs from different banks. In every case, I was given the option of allowing the local bank to do the conversion to dollars (and it told me what the conversion would be) or allow the network (Visa, Mastercard etc.) to do the conversion. Allowing the network to do the conversion always gives a better rate, though the ATM will ask you if you really want to make a transaction at an unknown rate. The rate I got was about $1.13 per euro and there was no ATM fee charged by the Lisbon banks. Visa/Mastercard will charge a fee of about 1% and your US bank may also charge a fee.

    I was also warned not to use the Euronet ATMs since they have high conversion fees as well as other fees. These are not bank ATMs.

    Reply
  13. GOOD DAY
    just used an atm MB in lisbon
    i took out my 200 eur limit and was charged 248.59 usd despite the exchange rate being approx 1.12
    do i have any recourse
    thnaks

    Reply
    • Hi David,

      Did you accept the ATM’s conversion rate for or did you select to let your bank do the conversion?

      If you accepted the ATM conversion rate, I don’t think there’s a lot that you can do. If your bank did that conversion then you’ll be able to get in touch with them. No idea whether they’ll do anything about it, but at least you can speak to them.

      Reply
      • Hi James, I am not sure you are familiar with the use US ATM cards in Portugal; I tried 3 different US based cards in portugal and they were all the same, the ATMs don’t give you an option to accept or decline the conversion, it’s not based on the US bank ( 3 different one same rate ( 1.254 when the actual rate was 1.135)) insane markup, its what we call in America a Rip-off, luckily i only made the mistake once on a 200 euros so it cost me $24 extra dollars, but i have not found one bank here that is a good option for US based cards, when i do i will report it.

        Reply
        • Thanks A. Smith,

          Yes, it sounds like the ATMs are treating US cards differently. Do you remember which ATMs you have tried already?

          Reply
  14. In Lisbon I could get 600 euros in one ATM transaction/withdrawal but only 200 in Porte de Lima. Does anyone know what the maximum is in Porto please?

    Reply
    • Hi, luckily not every withdrawel machine is in the hands of ATM. Just avoid these machines. There are still a lot belonging to banks. The. Caught me once and than no more. Jou just have to look…

      Reply
    • Hi Peter,

      The majority of the time it’s your bank that charges you and not the ATM (Portuguese ATMS don’t charge for withdrawals). The key to avoiding these bank charges is, unfortunately, to find a bank at home that doesn’t charge you for ATM withdrawals abroad (or at least charges something reasonable) before you go abroad.

      Once you’re here, there’s not a lot you can do.

      Some banks charge a withdrawal fee or a percentage + a withdrawal fee. If that’s the case with your bank, it makes to make as few ATM withdrawals as possible.

      Depending on your bank it may also be better to pay for things by card. It may not, though. It really depends on your bank’s individual terms.

      Reply
  15. At any ATM Never accept the conversion shown on the screen,, NEVER ,NEVER !!!! ONLY ACCEPT THE BANK RATE ON THAT DAY AND SAVE A FORTUNE !!!! Left side of Screen.
    I just took out 600 EURO and their exchange rate was 1089 AUS ,the Bank Rate on the day i was charged was 980 AUS.
    Nice little profit for the Mastercard….

    Reply
  16. Hi James,
    I am traveling to Lisbon for the 1st time and don’t have time to obtain any euros before leaving. I was planning on getting euros at the airport when I arrive so I can buy metro tickets and whatever else I might need before getting to my Airbnb. Do you have any better recommendations than what I am planning? I see Ellen didn’t reply yet above, are the conversions using an ATM that bad and should I get 200 euros some other way? Thanks
    Eric

    Reply
    • Hi Eric,

      As far as I know, it’s mainly down to your bank. Some banks will charge a fee, some a percentage, some a combination of both. There are also some banks that don’t charge you for withdrawing abroad or refund the costs.

      Money exchange services at airports are generally known for giving poor conversion rates. ATMs offer better rates, especially if you don’t accept the ATM’s conversion, but it does depend on what fees your bank will charge you. This should be something you can find out from their website.

      I would have a look at the bank’s fees, but I would lean towards using the ATMs over the exchange services. If you decide they’re a better deal, you’ll be able to find them (e.g. Unicambio) around Lisbon.

      Reply
  17. I just returned from Portugal and was charged $133 in one case for 100€, in another case $125 for €100. My US bank reimbursed ATM fees worldwide, the extra 18% was due to ATM grossly inflated conversion rate. Live & learn.

    Reply
  18. I’m in Portugal at moment and did a withdrawal at Multibanco and they convert at 1.25 per euros and for $100 eidos paid $125.13 crazy overcharged? I need help will be here for the next 6 days thx

    Reply
    • Hi Silvana,

      The first thing I would check is what your bank charges for foreign ATM withdrawals. Sometimes it’s a fee, sometimes it’s a percentage, sometimes it’s both.

      Reply
  19. Hi James,

    I have a UK debit card (Starling Bank) that doesn’t charge any fees at all for use abroad. However, I read on another post that most Portuguese ATM’s charge a fee for withdrawals from foreign bank accounts. Do you know if this is correct?

    Reply
    • Hi Gary,

      You’ll be pleased to know that’s not correct (unless that’s a specific issue with Starling). I have used several UK debit and credit cards in Portugal over the years, and it’s the UK bank that adds the charge and not the ATM here in Portugal.

      I don’t have a Starling account, but I have used Metro Bank (who also don’t charge for ATM transactions in Europe) and there is no charge from normal ATMs (e.g. a Portuguese high street bank). The ATM will offer you an exchange rate, but it’s better to let your bank do the conversion.

      Reply
  20. Hi, I am new to Portugal and yet to adopt using multibanco…one problem I face is everything in Portugal while operating it…is it possible to see options in English on multibanco?

    Reply
  21. Multibanco is currently charging about 10%
    per debut-card transaction. How does one avoid this wretched rip – off?
    Thank You.
    William Thacker

    Reply
    • Hi William,

      Do you mean the multibanco ATMs or card payment machines inside shops and restaurants?

      Generally, the easiest way to avoid these charges is to get a better bank account in your home country. Some bank accounts are just more travel-friendly than others.

      In the UK, for example, a lot of people use Metro bank or the Halifax Clarity credit card. Other people use Revolut or N26.

      I believe in the US, Charles Schwab Bank is the most travel-friendly bank for travel.

      If you’re based in Portugal, however, it may make sense to open a Portuguese bank account. Although most charge fees, it can be cheaper than paying ATM charges every time. You can then use a service like Transferwise to transfer from another currency to Euros.

      Reply
      • I’m using a debit card from a US Credit Union and was informed there were no fees for foreign bank atm transactions. The rate of exchange at a ‘Multibanco’ is generally between 1.26 and 1.28 (shown on the screen), when the dollar is trading at 1.135 and 1.15 Thanks much for your 1st reply.
        William Thacker

        Reply

Leave a Comment