In the previous article, we saw that Business Banking in Portugal is unfortunately still running behind and needs efforts to catch up with the rapidly growing tech entrepreneurship ecosystem. Until then, there are fortunately alternatives and options for international entrepreneurs to have their startups banked.
When it comes to Personal Banking, several banks allow you to open an account remotely, based in the country or merely within the Eurozone (and, by EU regulation, there are zero fees transferring money from one EU country to another). Some options will even give you full access to the Multibanco (MB) services at ATMs, permitting you to enjoy their services — which include topping up a prepaid mobile number, paying for online shopping, and even buying tickets to concerts.
Nonetheless, these options are only available for people who are already in Portugal or somehow have an EU residency. For instance, all Portuguese banks will ask you to provide a Portuguese Tax ID (Número de Identificação Fiscal) before processing your application.
If you are among the techies based in non-EU countries, you can’t, unfortunately, benefit from any of these so-called developments. Hence, Portuguese banks must understand that they have to avail processes and solutions for the category of entrepreneurs mentioned above to help attract and ease the life of international talent willing and in the process of relocating to Portugal.
Fortunately, the rise of digital banks that are pioneering the fintech industry provides non-EU based entrepreneurs with alternatives that abolish barriers. You will find information below about various options you may want to consider for Personal Banking in Portugal:
Portuguese Banks — Require Tax ID and are suitable if you are in Portugal
ActivoBank: Powered by Millennium BCP (Banco Comercial Português, or Commercial Portuguese Bank, in English), it promises a process that is only 15 minutes long. All you need is to download the app, fill your personal data, have copies (or photographs) of your documents, and complete a quick video call. The main currency is the Euro, and you need a minimum of 250 to open the account.
CTT: this Portuguese bank allows you to open an account online, as long as you are over 18 years olds, have a NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal, or Financial Identity Number, in English), and with a valid ID. An excellent choice with zero fees, that allows you to send and receive money across the EU, as well as enjoy the advantages of an MB functionality.
BPI: the 5th largest one in Portugal, with over 2 million clients. Personal accounts must be open in a physical branch, easily available throughout the country. Lots of English speaking staff as well.
SANTANDER: the largest financial institution in the Eurozone, and needless to say, its branches are widely available in Portugal. One of the best-awarded banks when it comes to customer service, and you can open an account online too.
Digital Banks — Personal Banking Made Easy
TransferWise: Best known for international money transfers without excessive charges, TransferWise also has a borderless card service. It allows you to receive money from over 30 different countries with zero fees, including the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and the EuroZone. You can also convert currency between your various accounts (typically with fees between 0.35% and 2%), and hold money in more than 40 currencies. And as it is a MasterCard, it can be used everywhere that accepts it.
N26: This German online bank is entirely free and available in Portugal. You can have an account open in 8 minutes — however, it does not have the MultiBanco functionality, and your card might take from one to three weeks to arrive. Widely available across the EU, it allows only five withdrawals per month, but they can be over €1,000.
Monzo: This bright coral card became popular in the hipster streets of Shoreditch, in London, where the online bank was founded. It allows you to set budgets, create a savings account, and even get loans or an overdraft if necessary. The downside? It requires a UK address, and you need someone to send you a Golden Ticket or wait in (the digital) queue. They are also under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), so you’re money is safe up to £85,000. Withdrawals abroad are limited to £200, and TransferWise powers money transfers worldwide.
Revolut: With over 100,000 registered users in Portugal, this UK bank provides services for all EU countries, and its number of users is expected to grow. It doesn’t have the MB functionality yet, but the myriad of features and integrations it offers make it our top choice. With Revolut, your money benefits from the European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS) protection for up to €100,000. Its app allows quick and easy maintenance of funds, and there are different types of accounts to subscribe to if needed.