How to Send Money to Portugal (& Get the Best Possible Rate)

By | Last updated: June 4, 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.

If you’re living in Portugal, or just spending a lot of time here, it’s quite likely that you’ll need to transfer money to a Portuguese bank account at some point. 

You may need to transfer your pension from another country. You may need to transfer money to buy a house. You may need to transfer spending money to a Euro bank account. 

When you’re an expat, transferring money isn’t necessarily something you just do once. In fact, a lot of people keep their money in non-Portuguese banks or have businesses outside of Portugal, and so international transfers are a regular part of life. 

Bank transfers within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) — or to put it more simply: between EURO bank accounts — are free, but transfers from other currencies (like USD and GBP) usually incur a fee. 

To get the best deal, not only do you have to look for currency exchange services that charge the lowest fees but those that also give the best rates. Thankfully, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds. 

The best currency exchange sites

Most expats are savvy enough to know that high street banks typically give you a terrible deal when it comes to international transfers. Many charge fees of €10 or more, and the exchange rate they give is usually well below the mid-market rate. 

Transferwise is typically touted as the best service for sending money abroad and, overall, it’s fantastic. It offers great rates, it’s fairly easy to use, and it comes with a number of additional great features like its multi-currency account. 

But it’s not the only service. There’s also Currencyfair, PayPal, Xe.com, Skrill, and Xoom, to name but a few. Then there are the more old-fashioned wire services like Western Union. 

How do you know which one is best? 

Having done multiple tests for different amounts and different currencies: one thing is clear. There is no one best site, and you need to look around. It depends on how much you’re sending, which currencies you’re transferring, and whether or not you already have an account with that particular site (some companies offer deals for new customers). 

Doing all of that is time-consuming, and it’s much easier to use a comparison website. 

Comparison Website: Monito

Monito compares multiple currency transfer websites like Currencyfair and Transferwise in one go, making it easy to see which company offers the best deal for that particular transfer. It isn’t the only currency transfer comparison website, but it’s easily the best. 

Revolut: Another contender?

Revolut, the free multi-currency bank account, allows you to exchange up to £5,000 per month without any hidden fees. If you get Revolut Premium, there’s no monthly limit. 

Because Revolut uses the interbank exchange rate (and doesn’t charge any fees), rates were more or less the same as the top option on Monito. So, not better than anything Monito could find but some might argue easier than going through the task of comparing vendors (and then signing up with each company). 

Note: At the weekend and bank holidays (and a few other circumstances), Revolut adds a markup of 0.5% for 14 major currencies and 1% for the other fiat currencies. Basically, don’t use it at the weekend.

However, despite Revolut being the cheapest option, it’s important to point out that Revolut is not currently a bank and does not have FSCS protection. This is important when you’re exchanging a considerable amount of money.

The price of convenience

Sending $100 to a Euro bank account? If you search on Monito, you may find that there’s anywhere from €0.02 and €1 of a difference between all of the different currency exchange sites.

Is it worth signing up to a completely new company? For some people, it’s worth going through the hassle of registering and getting their ID verified. For others, it’s easier to just stick with Transferwise, Currencyfair, or whatever site they commonly use.

Tips for Larger Amounts

If you’re transferring £1,000 to Euros, the difference between sites like Azimo, CurrencyFair, Transferwise, Skrill, and all of those other funny-sounding websites is around €10. If you compare one of these services to a traditional bank like HSBC or Barclays, the difference might be as much as €50. 

It pays to shop around — or at least to use a comparison service — and that’s definitely true when you’re sending large amounts, say £100,000. 

Once you get into the bigger numbers, foreign exchange companies (also known as Forex brokers or currency brokers) are worth exploring as they often can offer better rates. Note: they don’t always. 

Monito does include a few brokers like Currencies Direct and Frontier Pay, but it may still be worth looking at other options. 

OFX.com, in particular, is worth looking at as they don’t charge fees and have some of the best rates on the market. They usually have a minimum transfer amount of USD $1000.

About this article
This article was first published in September 2019. It was last updated on June 4, 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.

19 thoughts on “How to Send Money to Portugal (& Get the Best Possible Rate)”

  1. We are in Lagos and I just ran across your excellent Website…we will live here some day soon, so I will be reading (gobbling up) content and this website is well written, concise and a good resource. I am also going to check with Chase as they are claiming all of my transfers are free with my Priv Client account but I never trust a Bank for their words (I worked in the Banking industry, and I will leave it at that but believe me, Bankers are not trust worthy generally).

    Reply
    • They do seem to be very travel-friendly. I’ve met a lot of people travelling in other parts of the world who bank with Chase.

      But, yes, always a good idea to double check these things!

      Reply
  2. Thanks for the great info. Monito is a great resource. Will try World Remit for our next transfer.
    We have used Zoom, expensive, and the first transfer took 10 days even though they had our money in 1 day. The other transfers with them are usually in an hour, but still not a good exchange rate compared to the other companies.
    We also tried Remitly, the first transfer took 8 days, second transfer was a lot faster, but they charged a higher fee than was stated on their web site.

    I would steer clear of them both!

    Reply
  3. I have used XE numerous times to exchange USD for Euros and transfer that to Europe. Their rate for 100 EUR in July this year was $112 at an exchange rate of 0.8891 EUR per $, and no additional fees( basically at the international rate, no significant added commissions and no transaction fee). A check of Monito shows every site charging a fee of $6-12 in USD for that amount. You should include XE in your recommendations. On top of near zero fees, their customer service has been outstanding.

    Reply
    • Hi Greg,

      XE are one of the sites that are compared by Monito (they are listed on the page of results but under foreign exchange companies).

      According to Monito, anyway, XE don’t charge fees but their exchange rate isn’t as good as services like Transferwise and Skrill. The other charge fees, but offer closer to the mid-market rate. When you add all of these things up, XE didn’t rank as well.

      Reply
  4. How about safety? I’d like to save money but I know and have used Transferwise.
    Also, I used a bank when I bought my house. They were better than
    transferwise.

    Reply
    • Safety is definitely a big concern – especially when you’re sending over enough money to buy a house with.

      Personally, I would probably consider Transferferwise for that amount as I’ve used them a lot. I’m not sure I would go with a company I hadn’t heard of, though.

      Reply

Leave a Comment