Portugal is part of the European Union and the currency is Euro [€]. But how do you pay the most easy way in Portugal? What is the most ideal way to pay in a hotel, restaurant, monument or museum and so on. Is it better to take cash with you or not? And where and how to get cash?
So many questions about money, but important to find an answer when you want to have a great journey in Portugal. These 3 useful travel tips to pay in Portugal will help you out and give you an insights in how to handle with money in this beautiful European country.
Also in Portugal, cards are widely supported. To pay your hotel, a rental car, in a museum or at a monument, tourist offices and so on. In the tourist regions it is normally no problem to pay with international debit cards or credit cards. For credit cards, Mastercard and Visa are the most supported cards.
But in restaurants, smaller shops, local traders and when you go out of the big tourist areas, you can obtain some issues when you want to pay with your debit card. Because it can happen very frequently that they only accept Portuguese debit cards. This also is the case in some shops at the international airport of Lisbon. Sometimes you discover it already at the entrance. But in most cases, you can’t see it at the entrance or on the terminal. You only will discover it when the transaction didn’t pass and you have to go for another way to pay.
Because it is very easy and fast to pay with cards, there also are tricks to rip you off with international cards. Many people know that tourists like to use payment cards. Here is an example of a trick to rip you off.
“The merchant tells you that the transaction didn’t pass, while it passed successfully. But he wants you try again, so you paid twice. Afterwards, it becomes difficult and time consuming to prove your right and get your money back.”
I already had this issue by myself at the airport of Lisbon with a result that I almost missed my flight. When you are in holiday, you want to relax. So, don’t let the money be part of frustrations. A second example comes in with contactless payments. Do you always look at the amount on the terminal before you hold your card or payment method near the terminal? Maybe think about what will happen when the other person gave a higher amount in the terminal.
So, personally I’m not afraid of digital payments and you also don’t have to be scared to use payment cards or new ways of payment. Portuguese people also like them and use them. Most Portuguese people are fair with you. But in larger tourist areas you have to watch out. So, with cash payments it is easier to gain control. The examples above are some of the reasons why I mostly give the advise that in a lot of cases it is better to pay cash as a tourist in Portugal.
Yes, cards are an easy and mostly a safe way to pay. They also are widely supported over the country, especially after the COVID pandemic. But in Portugal, it still is very common to pay cash.
According my personal experiences in a large part of Portugal, I can give you 3 good reasons to pay cash in Portugal. You find them below.
Paying cash is a method that always works. You can’t have issues with technical or network problems. Of course, these days, there also are many terminals to put your cash in. But with cash, it always is possible to give your cash to the merchant itself. You never know that you arrive in a situation where cash is your only option to pay. This is why I personally always have some cash in my wallet. It keeps me flexible for every situation.
When you pay cash, you hold more control on what you are giving out. Because you see and feel every money you pay. Also for the merchants it is more difficult to rip you off with the payment terminal. In the way as I told above or with contactless payment when you didn’t look good enough to what amount the merchant has given in the terminal. Of course, when you have a lot of cash money with you, you can ripped off in the streets, metro, bus and so on. But Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world. So, in most parts of the country, you don’t have to be scared to ripped off when you take care of your personal items the right way.
A last one, is tipping. In Portugal, when you liked the service, tipping is still very common. Because, the salaries are very low. To tip, the most easy and personal way is to give it cash to the person who gave you the service. In that case, you better always have some cash with you. More about tipping in point 3 of these useful travel tips to pay in Portugal.
When you want to have cash with you, it also is good to have the opportunity to withdraw cash. So, you don’t need to take a lot of money with you. Also when you have too much money with you when you arrive in Portugal, you have to declare it and maybe pay taxes on it. So, how and where to withdraw cash in Portugal?
Luckily, you can almost everywhere withdraw money in Portugal. In the large cities like Lisbon and Porto, you find terminals on almost any important square, in a lot of streets – even where you don’t expect it, as well as in the metro and train stations and the airports. You also find cash terminals in the supermarkets and shopping centers. Also in the smaller cities and villages. So it is not difficult to withdraw cash in Portugal.
Fine! So, withdraw cash is easy in Portugal because it is possible to withdraw it almost everywhere. But, wait! Not so fast. Yes, you find a lot of ATM’s in Portugal to withdraw cash. But there are different types of ATM’s in Portugal. Those of the MB and those of Euronet. What are the differences between those terminals? And why is it so important to know?
These are the terminals with the large letters ATM on it and mostly in colours blue and yellow. You find them in the airport and at a lot of tourist locations in the large cities.
When you want to use such a terminal to withdraw cash, keep in mind that they charge you high transaction fees. Fees to withdraw cash out of the terminal.
And there is no difference when you use a debit card or a credit card. These transaction fees are also charged for international debit cards of the Maestro network. These fees are in addition of eventually currency exchange fees.
Aside of the ATM’s of Euronet, you also find many other terminals. These have an MB logo (Multibanco) They welcome you with a smiling bank card.
You find these terminals on many more local spots like metro and train stations, supermarkets, and more local streets in the cities and villages.
The good news about the MB terminals is that they don’t charge the transaction fees as the Euronet terminals. When you withdraw money with a credit card, you still can have some transaction fees. Also when your bank charges them.
In Portugal, tipping is still very common. So, when you liked the service in a restaurant, a hotel, a taxi driver, a tour guide and so on, they are very happy when you give them a tip. Because, the salaries in Portugal are very low and Portuguese people are very helpful. But they also like it when you show your appreciation and don’t take it all as normal. Tipping is a good way to do this. I always ensure that the tip reaches the person who deserves it, especially in a restaurant. The best way to tip is to give the money cash.
What is a good amount to tip? In a restaurant, a good rule is to give a maximum of around 10% of the bill as a tip. When I liked the service of a tour guide or taxi driver, I personally give the amount of a basic drink according the local prices.
Ok now we learned 3 interesting tips how to pay in Portugal and how to use each type. But what is the best option to use in which situation. Here is my conclusion out of my personal experiences.
According my personal experience, it all goes about trust and choose the most easy way. When you pay at a large company, shop, supermarket or restaurant, it is easy to trust when you pay by card. This is the same for your hotel. In this case, you also have a proof of payment by your bank account. So, these are very good reasons to pay by card.
But in more local shops, restaurants, kiosks and for smaller amounts, it maybe is better to go for cash payments. As well as you want to pay your ticket for the public transport by the driver. So, when you think that they don’t accept an international card, you pay better cash. Mostly it also is the most safe way to pay, you have more control over the payment and the amount you give out during your trip. It also is the best option when you want to give a tip. So, yes there still is a place for cash payments and sometimes it is a better idea to do. This is why I personally always have some cash in my wallet.
My final conclusion is to choose the right payment method for the right situation. When you are on holiday, you want to relax, have a good time and wonderful experiences to remember. So, let money and payment issues not be a source of frustrations. Choose the right method for your payments to make your time a lot easier and comfortable.
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