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

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Originally published in Sep 2019 & last updated on December 4, 2023
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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 from a foreign bank account to a Portuguese bank account at some point. 

For example:

  • You may need to transfer your pension from another country
  • You may need to transfer money to a Portuguese bank account for your visa application (e.g. for the D7 or golden visa)
  • You may need to transfer money to buy a house
  • You may need to transfer your savings over

When you’re an expat living in Portugal, 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. Because of this, it makes sense to find the best deal possible and, generally speaking, that usually isn’t with your bank.

Is Wise the best site?

Most expats are savvy enough to know that high street or brick-and-mortar banks typically give you a bad 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. 

For many people, Wise (previously Transferwise) is the easiest service to use and typically offers great rates. It’s sometimes a few euros more expensive than new currency transfer sites, particularly if they offer a sign-up bonus, but it’s one of the easier sites to use, particularly for small to medium-sized transfers.

And Wise is a great option. We wanted to send the equivalent of €100 to a person in Portugal and Wise beat competitors like Atlantic Money, Currency Fair, and However, once we started testing larger amounts (first €1,000, then €10,000, and then €100,000), Atlantic Money started to come out on top. This is because regardless of how much you’re sending, Atlantic Money charges a £3 fee. If you’re sending a large amount of money, say the equivalent of €100,000 to put towards a property purchase, you could save several hundred euros by using Atlantic Money as opposed to the frequently recommended Wise. For much smaller amounts, say €100, Wise seems to work out better due to Atlantic Money’s fixed fee. As mentioned, it pays to shop around.

(Unfortunately, Atlantic Money is currently only available in the UK and EU).

Another popular option is Revolut, the popular app-based bank, which is great for sending smaller amounts of money (e.g. less than €1,000 per month). Revolut allows you to exchange up to €1,000 per month (previously €5,000) without any fees and it’s instantaneous. If you get Revolut Premium, there’s no monthly limit. Just try to avoid transferring money at the weekend and holidays (and a few other circumstances) as Revolut adds a small markup (typically around 1%). It’s not the end of the world, but you’ll get a better rate if you make the transfer during the week.

Revolut managed to beat Atlantic Money when there were no fees (e.g. less than €1,000 per month) but Atlantic Money was the winner for bigger transfers e.g. €10,000 or €100,000. However, Revolut was only just behind Atlantic Money and usually ahead of Wise.

Revolut is available in the UK, EU, and US, among other locations. Wise, on the other hand, is available in most of the world.

TLDR: Wise is great, but it’s often beaten by either Revolut or Atlantic Money. There might only be a few euros difference when sending a few hundred euros at a time but it could be a few hundred euros difference when sending big payments like €100,000. However, Wise is available in most countries whereas Revolut and Atlantic Money aren’t.

What about the other options?

Wise, Revolut, and Atlantic Money are just 3 of money currency transfer services. There are plenty of other companies like PayPal, XE, Western Union, Remitly, and Zoom.

In our tests, we didn’t find them to offer better rates.

When sending large amounts, it is worth looking behind these companies and perhaps considering a currency broker like OFX. However, it seemed hard to find a better deal.

It’s also worth speaking to your bank. You’re probably not going to get a better deal, but you might if it’s a large amount, and many people feel more comfortable sending large amounts of money via their bank rather than an online service.

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.

You can contact James by emailing or via the site's contact form.

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There are 34 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.


  1. Hi James,

    I currently live in South Africa and would like to open a bank account in Portugal as I am planning to relocate there very soon with my family. I have money coming in from my dad’s inheritance as he passed away almost two months ago and do not want to put the money in my bank account here in South Africa. Can you please advise?
    Thank you Isabel

  2. Hi James,

    Do I have to pay tax in Portugal on the money I receive to my Portuguese bank account from a friend’s USA bank account even if he has already paid tax on it in the USA? Will it fall under the gift tax? I am a non-habitual resident of Portugal (Married to a Portuguese).

  3. What about sending a large money from transferwise to a portuguese bank account such a Millennium. Does the bank hold the money for review (such as providing a prof of source of the money) or release it immediately? Do i have to report the money received to IRS and pay taxes for it.
    Im planning to receive money from my father to help me buy a house

  4. Hi James,

    May I ask you a few questions?
    1.lf I use Wise to transfer money to a Portuguese bank account from Canada, it usually takes how many days for money to deposit to the Portuguese bank account?

    2.As I’ll need the Portuguese bank account statement to show that I have deposited enough money in the bank for D7 visa. Could you please tell me how to get the bank statement after transferring money to the Portuguese bank by Wise?

    3.If my visa was denied, how can I transfer money back to Canada from Portuguese bank account? (I mean I am not in Portugal)


  5. I am a US Citizen (but British by birth) and have lived in Florida for 30 years. I am looking to move permanently to Portugal in 6 months. I was thinking of moving my money to a CitiBank account from a Bank of America account before I move. I have a credit card with Citibank and I know that Citibank operates in Portugal. Would this work better for me than opening a Portugese bank account or should I have both? I have a small pension from the UK that comes from Citibank and I receive a Social Security payment from the USA. Any advice would be welcome!

  6. I am moving to Lisbon and I am in the process of opening an account at Millinium Bank. I need to transfer my funds from the USA and I am planning on doing so through Transferwise OR from my online bank account with Discover ($30 Wire fee no matter how much). Discover states that they only send US Dollars and the conversion is done by the Portuguese Bank. My Portugal bank will be only for spending, paying rent and I will have a savings account too.

    I would like your thoughts on the way I am going to proceed regarding transferring funds from US to Portugal using Transferwise (I have been a customer with Transferwise for 5 plus years.)

    Question: How do I get a fairly good conversion rate? What is the normal difference in the conversion rate for Portugal?


  7. James,
    I’ve been told by a friend that clients with a Wells Fargo or Charles Schwab account can make transfers from a U.S. account to a Portuguese account with small or no fees.

    Would you happen to have any knowledge of this?


    • Hi, I have an account at Payoneer in the US to receive USD.
      when money arrive in this account, it is transfered immediately to my PayPal account in USD.
      PayPal is not offering good rates But by converting on a need to you cover the risks.
      Also, Millenium has created a neo bank, Activobank, with no fees, and you get a free Visa card accepted in MultiBanco and includes MB way.

  8. 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).

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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

    • 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.


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