The Algarve Banking System and Currency
Foreigners planning to relocate to the Algarve are advised to open an account with one of the international banks. Even if you already have an account in your home country.
If you are contemplating working you may need one to have your wages paid into. Also if you are hoping to buy a home using finance you will most certainly need one.
Obviously the more credit history you have with the bank the more likely they are able to offer finance should you ever need it.
In this article, we will try to explain the Portuguese banking system and the options open for foreigners moving to the Algarve.
Portugal uses an advanced banking system, whereby all the main banks are linked to the national Multibanco system.
All ex-pats of eligible age can open an account with a Portuguese bank which can be opened by both residents and non-residents.
The Banking System in the Algarve
At present, there are over 150 banks in Portugal including a range of private national retail banks, public and cooperative banks, international banks, and mobile banks.
Although the number of physical branches has been on the decline over the last decade, there is still plenty around.
Most banks in Algarve belong to the Portuguese Banking Association.
The central bank in Portugal is the Banco de Portugal, which also serves as the regulating authority for all Portuguese banks.
Currency in the Algarve
Portugal is in the EU so uses the euro. As with all EU countries, there are eight different coins in use 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, and 1 and 2 euro coins. With seven different notes 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500.
Please note some of the smaller outlets may not accept the €100, €200 and €500.
Cash Machines and ATMs in the Algarve
The Multibanco network in the Algarve which includes most of the significant banks operates a nationwide system of around 12,000 cash machines.
So you won’t have a problem locating one in the Algarve cities and towns, even in the smaller villages, there are usually one or two to be found.
The cash machines take all of the major bank cards, however, they do have a withdrawal limit of €200 per transaction or €400 per day per card.
Foreign bank transaction fees are around 2–3% but for some international banks which are part of the Global ATM Alliance the fees are waived.
The Algarve Banks
Using Digital banks in the Algarve
There are a few online and mobile banks that have become very popular with Algarve ex-pats for payments in recent years and are our choice for ease of use and cost.
Customers can easily open an account online and at a bank using a mobile phone or laptop. The best digital banks for Algarve residents are
National Private Retail Banks in the Algarve
There are many private high street banks in the Algarve all of which offer a range of current accounts.
Including Personal, joint and student accounts open for residents and non-residents alike.
Most of the banks in the Algarve have English-speaking staff.
The normal banking hours in the Algarve are 08:30 am to 15:00 pm, although some banks stay open until 16:00 pm. There are some banks that also open on Saturday mornings.
Banks in the Algarve are linked to the Portuguese Multibanco system so you can withdraw cash, top-up your Portuguese mobile phone, pay your bills, transfer money to other accounts and pay income tax and social security contributions.
Public retail banks in Portugal
Caixa Geral de Depositos is a state-owned retail banking corporation and is Portugal’s second-largest bank.
Public retail banks provide a financial service to the individual consumer rather than large corporate institutions.
Services offered include savings and checking accounts along with mortgages, personal loans, debit or credit cards, and certificates of deposit
Algarves International Banks
There are a few multinational banks that you can find throughout the Algarve region.
These banks have the same opening hours as the Portuguese banks and often offer a range of expat-friendly services. The main one in the Algarve would be Credit Agricole.
Investment banks in the Algarve
I guess the average Joe will have no need for investment banks but for those who may.
Investment banks deal in stocks and bonds mostly for corporations and provide some other financial services and assistance with mergers or acquisitions for example.
They also manage pension funds, raise financial sponsorship, and arrange payment solutions.
Offshore banking in the Algarve
Foreigners living in the Algarve may find that an international offshore account is the best way to manage their money
Having an offshore account can be helpful for anyone who works abroad or who spends time in more than one country. Frequently transferring money between countries is another plus.
Offshore bank accounts are located outside the holder’s country of residence and usually offer distinct advantages such as a wider range of cross-border services and lower taxation fees.