Bank accounts normally aren’t free in Portugal, so app-based digital banks like Revolut and N26, as well as Portugal’s own Activobank, have become extremely popular. As of January 2019, Revolut has more than 100,000 registered users in Portugal alone and the number is expected to grow.
Aside from being free, it’s easy to see why banks like Revolut are becoming so popular. Opening a Revolut bank account is incredibly easy and can be done in minutes. You can keep a track of everything you spend from within the app. It offers great rates abroad. And it’s easy to send and review money, particularly with other Revolut users.
Revolut now has a banking licence as well, as of December 2018. This means that it’s actually a bank and, most importantly for customers, that means that up to €100,000 is protected under the European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS).
There are pros and cons to everything of course.
Normally Revolut charges a €6 fee to get your debit card delivered, but Portugalist readers can get the card for free (waiting for Revolut to provide a special code for this). In the meantime, it may be worth signing up with N26 as well.
Who doesn’t love free? Even if you don’t use this as your main bank account, given that it’s free, it’s still a useful card to have in your wallet or purse.
Control everything from your phone
If your card is lost or stolen, it’s easy to freeze it or order a new one. You can also keep track of all your purchases within the app, and even see them organised by category. Having this level of control is definitely a pro.
Make purchases in other currencies
Revolut allows you to easily shop online in other currencies, for example at Amazon UK (Sterling) or Amazon.com (Dollars). This means you get to use Revolut’s currency rate rather than say Amazon’s, which is going to be a lot more favourable.
New card can be sent to wherever you are
If you’re travelling and you lose your card, Revolut will send the card to wherever you are in the world.
Free withdrawals abroad
Revolut offers free ATM withdrawals abroad (up to €200, or more if you have a premium account).
No multibanco functionality
Revolut doesn’t have Multibanco functionality, although this may be added in the future.
Doesn’t work with some ATMs
Some ATMs in Portugal don’t like non-Portuguese bank accounts, and Revolut falls into that category. If the ATM doesn’t accept your card, you’ll just need to find another one.
Similarly, it doesn’t work with some services in Portugal like the Metro and toll roads.
ATM withdrawal limits
Revolut’s free account has a monthly €200 withdrawal limit (premium accounts have a higher monthly limit). You can withdraw more, but you’ll be charged a % fee for anything about €200. To avoid this fee, you should pay for everything with your card rather than withdrawing cash. This is fine in cities like Lisbon, but could be more problematic in more rural parts of Portugal.
Should you get Revolut premium?
Surely the best thing about Revolut is that it’s free. Why would you pay for premium Revolut?
Revolut offers two options that have a monthly fee: Premium and Metal. Premium and Metal have higher ATM withdrawal limits, and come with added benefits like overseas medical insurance, delayed baggage and flight insurance, and the ability to get a replacement debit card anywhere in the world within 3 days.
Within Revolut Metal, you can also get cashback on purchases and you have access to a “concierge service” that’ll book hotels, flights, and event tickets on your behalf.
You can also create “disposable virtual cards” which are one-time bank cards that you can use for a single online payment rather than using your actual bank card details. For those concerned about shopping safely online, this is a much safer way of doing things.
Most people stick with the free option but may switch to one of the premium options, particularly if they’re travelling abroad.