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Portuguese Currency / ATM / Credit Card use

Ellann

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Camino 2022
As I get closer to leaving Australia I have been reading horror stories about ATM rip offs especially in Portugal, and even more so inside the Airport. It seems very confusing. I have a good credit card that doesn’t charge conversion fees, but have not used for cash withdrawal at ATM before when overseas. It has a fee of 3.5% per withdrawal, and starts charging interest immediately. So might be more useful used elsewhere. So for cash withdrawal, I have ordered a Wise Debit Card. Can anyone offer experience with ATM withdrawals and the whole “reject the currency conversion” option which you have to apparently reject twice? Also advice on the fees for withdrawing? What with 3.5% charged by my credit card issuer (minimum fee of $4 AUD) and additional bank fees in Portugal to withdraw, plus the lousy exchange rate from Australian dollars to the Euro it seems a bit scary. All those brain trusts in Portugal, or have been to Portugal, and more importantly from Australia, can you come to the rescue for me?
 
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OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Oct/Nov 2022_Mozarabe from Almeria
Definitely DON’T use a credit card at a machine for cash. Not in Australia nor anywhere really unless it’s a dire emergency and you desperately have no other means of getting cash. Credit cards (at least in Australia ) have always started charging interest immediately on cash advances.

Use the wise debit card you’ve ordered (I have never used Wise but reading forum it appears quite a few people are happy with it ) like you would in Australia - for purchases / places that will take it like hotels, shops etc. Some smaller operators have moved over to accepting cards . You could carry your oz credit card with you as a backup in case you have an emergency.

I carry some euros starting out and when my supply is low., I go to the wall machines at banks overseas (preferably during the day when the bank is open)..and withdraw euros.

You will always find bad news if you look for it but you just need to be careful and be sure of where you make withdrawals.
Ask Hospitalero/as, to help you to choose which bank is best if you’re concerned. I’ve never found the camino a scary place in regards to scams. Just be more careful in crowded places like airports and cities but just like you would at home. It can happen in Australia too.

Preferably have enough with you initially., so that you don’t need to find a place to exchange at the airport on arrival or in first day or so., so you’re not rushed.

Note that as well as any fees your wise card (if any charges).. you will have to pay a withdrawal fee at the machine for each time you take cash. They vary in the fee charged.
I don’t have (yet) one of those magical cards supplied by certain banks that refund all the withdrawal fees. Maybe the Wise card does?
Good luck - try not to worry ..
Just make sure you protect your valuables; know where they are at all times.

Edit: with regards to the ‘reject currency thing’. I haven’t had that problem in many caminos but sometimes if I’m offering the card at hotel etc. I would be clear to them and say : ‘please charge in euros ‘.
The card I carry is in euros prepurchased. Whenever I withdraw cash euros at machine / it always dispenses in euros so I’m not the best person the advise on this -
Ps. I have been told that if you are in a shop etc and using your debit card you can sometimes ask for euros (cash ) as well ; added to the purchase sum (like you can do at supermarket in Oz at checkout ) - thus avoiding the machine fee. I haven’t tried it myself.
 
Last edited:

Tassie Kaz

Sempre Avanti
Time of past OR future Camino
2023?
As I get closer to leaving Australia I have been reading horror stories about ATM rip offs especially in Portugal, and even more so inside the Airport. It seems very confusing. I have a good credit card that doesn’t charge conversion fees, but have not used for cash withdrawal at ATM before when overseas. It has a fee of 3.5% per withdrawal, and starts charging interest immediately. So might be more useful used elsewhere. So for cash withdrawal, I have ordered a Wise Debit Card. Can anyone offer experience with ATM withdrawals and the whole “reject the currency conversion” option which you have to apparently reject twice? Also advice on the fees for withdrawing? What with 3.5% charged by my credit card issuer (minimum fee of $4 AUD) and additional bank fees in Portugal to withdraw, plus the lousy exchange rate from Australian dollars to the Euro it seems a bit scary. All those brain trusts in Portugal, or have been to Portugal, and more importantly from Australia, can you come to the rescue for me?
I don't recall having any problems when walking the CP from Lisbon...but that was back in 2015.
I negated the whole minimum fee/percent thing by calculating the amount to withdraw so I only incurred the minimum charge (ie avoid small withdrawals).
Since then (& being allergic to bank fees 😇), I use a combo of cards. This includes the Latitude/28 Degrees Mastercard which only charges the set Mastercard exchange rate with no 'padding' as added by banks & other financial institutions.
I also use the Ubank (NAB) Visa debit card which does not charge a withdrawal or conversion fee.

So basically, my strategy is Latitude/28 Deg MC for all purchases & Ubank VD for all ATM cash withdrawals...works for me! My fees when o/s are zero or at worst the occasional fee if necessary.
I will caveat all this by stating I have not yet ventured beyond our shores post-pandemic so both options would need to be researched for current T&C's.
I agree with @OzAnnie & always arrive with € in pocket.
Best wishes for almost-fee-free travel!
👣 🌏
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2019
Portugues 2022
Hi Ellaan. In March/April I used my Commonwealth Bank debit card in ATMs in Portugal with no problem at all. They offer an English translation which makes it easy. As you have noted, do not accept the ATM offer to do currency conversion. I don't recall having to reject it twice, but it may vary between different ATMs. Also, I made sure wherever possible I used the ATM at a bank when the bank was open so if there was a problem I could see someone in the bank.

Bom Caminho!
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
A few in the past; more in the future!
Good info jungleboy.
Roughly ., what is the average fee charged at ATM in Portugal ?
I have a Portuguese card so there is no fee for me at MB ATMs (MB - Multi Banco - is an ATM network of the various Portuguese banks).

I assume there is a fee for international cards at MB ATMs but it wouldn't be as high as at Euronet ATMs (not aligned with banks, often in convenience stores etc), where I believe the withdrawal fee is €3-3.50.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Baiona - Santiago - '22; Pamplona - Burgos ('22?)
I live in Portugal and have withdrawn funds from my US credit union account. To get your best rates, use Multibanco machines only. You will have to reject the conversion (terrible rates!) twice, and it's disconcerting at first, as it feels like you're cancelling the transaction, but persevere. To reduce fees on your home bank's end, avoid taking out small amounts - MB's limit per transaction is 200 euros, so go ahead and take that much, your home bank will only charge one transaction fee.
 

mario juan

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
One
I’d suggest you find the best buying rate for the euro (cash) before you depart and buy yourself 10 or 15 €100 notes, depending on what you think you might need. Portugal is a very safe country and if you take the usual precautions you’ll be fine.. take a couple orf cards for backup..
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
A few in the past; more in the future!
MB's limit per transaction is 200 euros, so go ahead and take that much, your home bank will only charge one transaction fee.
€200 is the highest of the suggested amounts but if you choose to enter a custom amount, you can withdraw more - at least €250, I don’t think I’ve tried more than that.
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
I live in Portugal and have withdrawn funds from my US credit union account. To get your best rates, use Multibanco machines only. You will have to reject the conversion (terrible rates!) twice, and it's disconcerting at first, as it feels like you're cancelling the transaction, but persevere. To reduce fees on your home bank's end, avoid taking out small amounts - MB's limit per transaction is 200 euros, so go ahead and take that much, your home bank will only charge one transaction fee.
I do not know if it is worth the trouble for you and you may already know the following. If you have a Charles Schwab account you can use their ATM card and any fees associated with the transaction are credited back to your account. I use my card when I walk and it avoids the worry and hassle of whatever the fees appear on the ATM screen.
 

Mangoustan

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last caminos: Shikoku 88 temples- Japón 2019.
When I was in Coimbra in May 2022, I went to a Santander bank ATM. I don’t remember if it was a multibanco BUT I was charged by Santander with my Débit card (from Canada ) a 12.5% fee commission 😱 and I only found out after the withdrawal. Never used a Santander ATM after.

So make sure you see the fee before you accept the withdrawal.

Depending how long you are staying and what you pay in Cash…take some Euros from Australia.

My Visa crédit card charged me a 2.5% fee ( or extra conversión rate). So I paid a lot with my Visa. I stayed mostly in private place.

Enjoy your Caminho ⛩😉
 

dfunghi

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future (2019) Portuguese.
Whatever you decide be sure to use only the debit card and not a cc, and make sure that card is tied to a specific account with limited funds for safety. Most likely you can log in to your bank’s website and transfer more as needed. That is what we do when traveling. In US there are many websites that list all the best and worst bank cards to use for foreign travel. I imagine Australia must have similar? US banks almost all charge 3% above but do typically get the best exchange rate versus a cambio. Australian banks may be similar and you may have to just accept that 3% charge.
 

Ellann

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Camino 2022
I do not know if it is worth the trouble for you and you may already know the following. If you have a Charles Schwab account you can use their ATM card and any fees associated with the transaction are credited back to your account. I use my card when I walk and it avoids the worry and hassle of whatever the fees appear on the ATM screen.
Thanks but that card is not available in Australia, but I wish it was.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I smiled at the thread title: 'Portuguese Currency / ATM / Credit Card use'. It made me wonder if you knew where you were going to change your remaining Portuguese cash when you cross into Spain.
 

Ellann

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Camino 2022
I smiled at the thread title: 'Portuguese Currency / ATM / Credit Card use'. It made me wonder if you knew where you were going to change your remaining Portuguese cash when you cross into Spain.
Haha I didn't even notice that, should have jus said "euro"
 

Rosella25

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
In my experience most places in Portugal accept credit/debit cards so there's little need to carry much cash. The arrangements for contactless payments are similar to Australia's, sometimes you get asked if you want to pay in Euros or Australian dollars. The exchange rate is supposedly better if you choose Euros (as then your own bank does the conversion).
 

Ellann

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Camino 2022
In my experience most places in Portugal accept credit/debit cards so there's little need to carry much cash. The arrangements for contactless payments are similar to Australia's, sometimes you get asked if you want to pay in Euros or Australian dollars. The exchange rate is supposedly better if you choose Euros (as then your own bank does the conversion).
I am mostly staying in municipal Albergue’s which only accept cash.
 

Ellann

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Camino 2022
I live in Portugal and have withdrawn funds from my US credit union account. To get your best rates, use Multibanco machines only. You will have to reject the conversion (terrible rates!) twice, and it's disconcerting at first, as it feels like you're cancelling the transaction, but persevere. To reduce fees on your home bank's end, avoid taking out small amounts - MB's limit per transaction is 200 euros, so go ahead and take that much, your home bank will only charge one transaction fee.
Definitely DON’T use a credit card at a machine for cash. Not in Australia nor anywhere really unless it’s a dire emergency and you desperately have no other means of getting cash. Credit cards (at least in Australia ) have always started charging interest immediately on cash advances.

Use the wise debit card you’ve ordered (I have never used Wise but reading forum it appears quite a few people are happy with it ) like you would in Australia - for purchases / places that will take it like hotels, shops etc. Some smaller operators have moved over to accepting cards . You could carry your oz credit card with you as a backup in case you have an emergency.

I carry some euros starting out and when my supply is low., I go to the wall machines at banks overseas (preferably during the day when the bank is open)..and withdraw euros.

You will always find bad news if you look for it but you just need to be careful and be sure of where you make withdrawals.
Ask Hospitalero/as, to help you to choose which bank is best if you’re concerned. I’ve never found the camino a scary place in regards to scams. Just be more careful in crowded places like airports and cities but just like you would at home. It can happen in Australia too.

Preferably have enough with you initially., so that you don’t need to find a place to exchange at the airport on arrival or in first day or so., so you’re not rushed.

Note that as well as any fees your wise card (if any charges).. you will have to pay a withdrawal fee at the machine for each time you take cash. They vary in the fee charged.
I don’t have (yet) one of those magical cards supplied by certain banks that refund all the withdrawal fees. Maybe the Wise card does?
Good luck - try not to worry ..
Just make sure you protect your valuables; know where they are at all times.

Edit: with regards to the ‘reject currency thing’. I haven’t had that problem in many caminos but sometimes if I’m offering the card at hotel etc. I would be clear to them and say : ‘please charge in euros ‘.
The card I carry is in euros prepurchased. Whenever I withdraw cash euros at machine / it always dispenses in euros so I’m not the best person the advise on this -
Ps. I have been told that if you are in a shop etc and using your debit card you can sometimes ask for euros (cash ) as well ; added to the purchase sum (like you can do at supermarket in Oz at checkout ) - thus avoiding the machine fee. I haven’t tried it myself.
I reckon I have it all sorted . I have signed up for Wise, Ubank, Upbank (my son got me into this and looks really good), as well as Revolut. All in my Apple Wallet and cards in the mail to me. Between these cards I am covered for ATM withdrawals and will use my credit card for everything else. Thanks for all the wonderful advice, understanding and humour.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
On my first Camino in 2015, I used my new Charles Schwab debit card to get €400, as is my habit to withdraw at home on my bank debit card, putting the excess in a Safe. Trying several machines on the Frances I wondered/worried why my card would not work. A pilgrim/walker waiting behind me suggested I try a smaller amount, so €300 worked fine if I recall correctly. When overseas I now keep to this amount.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
On my first Camino in 2015, I used my new Charles Schwab debit card to get €400, as is my habit to withdraw at home on my bank debit card, putting the excess in a Safe. Trying several machines on the Frances I wondered/worried why my card would not work. A pilgrim/walker waiting behind me suggested I try a smaller amount, so €300 worked fine if I recall correctly. When overseas I now keep to this amount.
Chrissy I think on my last Camino, when I arrived at the airport in Sevilla I was able to withdraw 400 Euro. I think the limit may be set by the bank/ATM machine rather than the Schwab card. But I am not so sure about that.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Chrissy I think on my last Camino, when I arrived at the airport in Sevilla I was able to withdraw 400 Euro. I think the limit may be set by the bank/ATM machine rather than the Schwab card. But I am not so sure about that.
My Schwab card supposedly allows me to take out as much as I want(provided you have the funds in the account), but I have never taken more than the 300 as I only use it internationally. At home I have my local bank debit card and its limit is $400/day.
I think you are correct in saying that limits can vary by bank.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
My Schwab card supposedly allows me to take out as much as I want(provided you have the funds in the account), but I have never taken more than the 300 as I only use it internationally. At home I have my local bank debit card and its limit is $400/day.
I think you are correct in saying that limits can vary by bank.
Yup. It's my experience it varies by bank ATM. Scwab itself allows me to take out $1000 per day, but most bank ATMs have a limit. I find €300 per day works great on the Camino.

I wonder why you can't get a Schwab card in Australia?
Does anyone know?
Has anyone asked?
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Yup. It's my experience it varies by bank ATM. Scwab itself allows me to take out $1000 per day, but most bank ATMs have a limit. I find €300 per day works great on the Camino.

I wonder why you can't get a Schwab card in Australia?
Does anyone know?
Has anyone asked?
We have had this conversation in other threads and it looks like it is only available in the United States even though Schwab has offices worldwide. I did ask a representative a while ago when I was talking to Schwab about this and he said he did not know the reason. I would think it is not a question that is asked often because whenever I have called Schwab for any reason the representatives always seem to be very well informed and always seem to have an answer and/or solution.
 
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susanawee

susanawee
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances-(2013/14/18
Camino Salvado Perth -(2015)
West Highland Way (2016)
Lyon France 2017
Definitely DON’T use a credit card at a machine for cash. Not in Australia nor anywhere really unless it’s a dire emergency and you desperately have no other means of getting cash. Credit cards (at least in Australia ) have always started charging interest immediately on cash advances.

Use the wise debit card you’ve ordered (I have never used Wise but reading forum it appears quite a few people are happy with it ) like you would in Australia - for purchases / places that will take it like hotels, shops etc. Some smaller operators have moved over to accepting cards . You could carry your oz credit card with you as a backup in case you have an emergency.

I carry some euros starting out and when my supply is low., I go to the wall machines at banks overseas (preferably during the day when the bank is open)..and withdraw euros.

You will always find bad news if you look for it but you just need to be careful and be sure of where you make withdrawals.
Ask Hospitalero/as, to help you to choose which bank is best if you’re concerned. I’ve never found the camino a scary place in regards to scams. Just be more careful in crowded places like airports and cities but just like you would at home. It can happen in Australia too.

Preferably have enough with you initially., so that you don’t need to find a place to exchange at the airport on arrival or in first day or so., so you’re not rushed.

Note that as well as any fees your wise card (if any charges).. you will have to pay a withdrawal fee at the machine for each time you take cash. They vary in the fee charged.
I don’t have (yet) one of those magical cards supplied by certain banks that refund all the withdrawal fees. Maybe the Wise card does?
Good luck - try not to worry ..
Just make sure you protect your valuables; know where they are at all times.

Edit: with regards to the ‘reject currency thing’. I haven’t had that problem in many caminos but sometimes if I’m offering the card at hotel etc. I would be clear to them and say : ‘please charge in euros ‘.
The card I carry is in euros prepurchased. Whenever I withdraw cash euros at machine / it always dispenses in euros so I’m not the best person the advise on this -
Ps. I have been told that if you are in a shop etc and using your debit card you can sometimes ask for euros (cash ) as well ; added to the purchase sum (like you can do at supermarket in Oz at checkout ) - thus avoiding the machine fee. I haven’t tried it myself.
Thankyou for your thoughtful and well thought out post.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Thanks but that card is not available in Australia, but I wish it was.
Yes you are right. I always forget to mention this but the original poster mentioned that she was taking money out of her American credit union so I assumed she was from the States. As the great Felix Unger once said (Did you get the Odd Couple TV show down under?) "When you assume you make an ass out of you and me! :) ;):)
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
Note that as well as any fees your wise card (if any charges).. you will have to pay a withdrawal fee at the machine for each time you take cash. They vary in the fee charged.
I don’t have (yet) one of those magical cards supplied by certain banks that refund all the withdrawal fees. Maybe the Wise card does?
If not, it might be worth getting such a card. I did, and my entire seventeen months in Spain (and many months in other countries) were completely funded in local currency from ATMs and direct charges in restaurants that didn't do cards. At the beginning, I tried to "be nice" to the bank by avoiding ATMs that charge fees, but I was unable to find a consistent pattern.

 
Last edited:

Salash

Road less travelled
Time of past OR future Camino
Senda Litoral Portugal (2019)
Camino Central Portugal (2021)
I use Cashpassport by MasterCard. It's a debit card that allows you to convert your money saved on the card to the currency of the country you'll be traveling in. On my last Camino, this was my primary card. I used it for most shop purchases, and withdrew €200-300 as I needed. This avoided conversion fees, I only had to pay the ATM fee. I would check whether you can convert the currency on the card you have have. I organised the card through my credit union. Good luck, & enjoy your Camino.
 

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