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Sending Money to Portugal (How to Get the Best Rate Possible)

By: James | Last updated: October 2019* | 16 Comments

If you’re living in Portugal, or spending a reasonable amount of time there, you’re probably going to need to transfer money to a Portuguese bank account at some point. This might be to pay for utilities, to hold money in Euros, or just to avoid foreign currency transaction fees if you’re constantly withdrawing money in another currency like Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.

I’m also going to assume that you already have a Portuguese bank account (or at least a Euro bank account). If you don’t have one, take a look at this article. If you just need a Euro bank account, consider opening a bank account with N26. It’s free and it’s easy.

Is Transferwise the best option?

Chances are you’ve probably heard of Transferwise, and you know that they offer much better rates than the banks. It’s true. Banks charge high fees, and often don’t give you a very good exchange rate either.

Take Halifax, a bank in the UK, for example. At £9.50, Halifax’s fees are actually lower than a lot of banks but still a lot more than Transferwise. They also don’t make up for it by providing a better exchange rate: in this example Halifax offered a worse exchange rate than Transferwise.

Transfering £100 to EUR

  Exchange Rate Sender Fees Recipient Gets
Halifax 1.079 £9.50 €107.9
Transferwise 1.11489 £0.63 €111.489

Transfering £1,000 to EUR

  Exchange Rate Sender Fees Recipient Gets
Halifax 1.079 £9.50 €1079
Transferwise 1.11489 £3.95 €1114.89

Does Transferwise offer the best rate, though? The short answer is no. 

Monito: A Currency Exchange Comparison Site

We use comparison sites to compare flights, car rental, insurance, and just about everything else, but (surprisingly) most of us don’t use a comparison site to compare currency exchange rates. Maybe that’s because unlike flights and car rental, FX comparison sites aren’t really a thing.

Enter Monito.

Monito compares multiple currency exchange platforms to show you which site offers the best deal. At the time of writing, Monito compared Skrill, Instarem, Currencyfair, Azimo, Transferwise, Western Union, WorldRemit, EasySend, TransferGo, OrbitRemit, MoneyGram, XendPay, and PayPal.

For small transfers this didn’t make a big difference. On a £100 transfer, the best option was £0.50 cheaper than the second best option and £0.78 cheaper than Transferwise, the 5th best option. For the sake of convenience, most people will probably just stick with whatever company they already have an account with: saving £0.50 isn’t a big deal.

Of course, it can make a big difference if you’re transferring £1,000 and especially larger amounts – say £10,000 or $50,000. 

Interestingly, although the top 5 companies were more or less the same when sending £100 or £1000, the results changed when sending £10,000, £25,000, and £100,000. The moral of the story: always do your research (in this case by using Monito).

Is there a better option again?

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.

Regardless of which service you decide to use, it definitely pays to do your research. Sometimes that’s just a few cents here and there but, if you’re transferring a lot more  money, it could really add up. 

Updates: Some updates are as small as a spelling correction. If you spot a mistake or want to suggest a contribution, leave a comment below.

I lived in Portugal as a child and, after many years in Ireland, the UK, and other parts of the world, I moved back as an adult. Over the past decade or so, I've been lucky to live in several parts of Portugal, including Lisbon and the Algarve, and to travel to just about every corner of it.

While in Portugal, I've always found it a struggle to get accurate, up-to-date and insightful information about Portugal. I decided to create a hub for expats and travellers that was not only informative and accurate but that helped others really get to know Portuguese life and culture. So, I started Portugalist and (amazingly) it quickly grew to be the #1 resource about Portugal.

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16 thoughts on “Sending Money to Portugal (How to Get the Best Rate Possible)”

Welcome to the comments section of this article. Here you'll find comments from other Portugalist readers. You can also leave a comment or ask a question.
    • 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.

  1. 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.

    • 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.

  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!

  3. 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).

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