As a member of the EU, Portugal offers a modern banking system with advanced financial products for investors, including mortgages for foreign purchasers.
Even if you are not obtaining finance in Portugal for your property purchase, you will probably wish to open a local bank account to pay utility bills, taxes and other expenses while staying in Portugal and internet banking will enable you to watch over account transactions from your country of origin.
ATM machines are widely available in Portugal, even in small towns and they are the simplest way of obtaining cash. Credit and debit cards are also commonplace, allowing easy access to over the counter advances in banks and they are generally accepted in most Portuguese hotels, restaurants, petrol stations and shops
You will usually, though not always, pay a small commission when you exchange money using travellers’ cheques – around 1% of the amount changed. It is worth knowing that Thomas Cook offices do not charge for cashing their own cheques, while American Express offices do not make any charge for cheques.
If you open a local bank account, you are well advised to compare commission rates for money transfer to and from Portugal. It is common practice for banks to charge 0.5% commission for currency exchange, with a minimum charge of approximately 6 GBP/10 EUR. However, some banks do not charge any commission on transactions of less than 24.94 EUR so it is worth checking with banks for details on their rates.
You will be required to present a passport or valid ID card when making any kind of banking transaction, from opening an account to withdrawing or exchanging money. If you anticipate the need to exchange a large amount of currency, it is highly advisable to notify the bank in advance to avoid inconvenience and unnecessary disappointment. Many employees in Portuguese banks speak English, particularly at the foreign exchange counter.
Banking hours in Portugal are from 08:30 am to 3:00 pm, Monday to Friday. Most banks are closed on weekends and public holidays.