Multibanco – Portuguese Banking System

Today I’m blogging from Lisbon and would like to introduce you to Multibanco – the advanced Portuguese banking system. What is multibanco? And what are the advantages of using it?

What is Multibanco?

Multibanco is the advanced Portuguese banking system that has been in operation in Portugal since 2014. It is a fully integrated banking system that links 27 banks in Portugal and offers a wide range of services across ATM machines. But the benefits of this integrated system don’t end there – the system also provides mobile phone (Tele-multiabanco) and internet services (MBNet) as well.

Using Multibanco Bank Cards

I absolutely LOVE the Multibanco system in Portugal and feel that it’s even better than our system in the UK. When you apply for a bank account in Portugal, you will probably find that your card has the MB symbol on it and this means that your card is automatically part of this system.

I opened my Portuguese bank account with ActivoBank in Chiado and love banking via the ActivoBank App – it’s extremely easy to use. My Activobank card has the MB symbol on it and my card is widely accepted throughout Portugal. I can make cash withdrawals through ATM’s and my card is accepted in shops, restaurants and bars throughout Portugal, quite often without the need of my PIN because you can do contactless payments.

Using Multibanco ATM’s

Using Multibanco ATM’s in Portugal is extremely easy. You don’t have to speak Portuguese as most ATMs offer an English option. You can easily draw out cash, change your PIN and check your balance.

However, this system has many other benefits. You will find that you can actually use ATM’s in Portugal to top up your mobile phone, pay your utility bills, pay tax and even purchase travel and concert tickets!

ATM Limits

Multibanco accounts usually have ATM limits of 400€ per day. Some limit to 200€. Check this with your bank. If you need to withdraw large amounts of cash from your account you may need to go into your branch with passport ID or take several smaller amounts over a number of days.

Which ATMs should I use in Portugal?

Make sure that when you do use an ATM that you check if it’s a Multibanco ATM – look for the MB sign. I would recommend using official ATMs such as ActivoBank, Millenium Bank and Santander.

Using ATMs in Portugal as a Foreigner

There are some ATMs in Portugal that will charge you just for withdrawing your own cash as a foreigner (e.g. with a UK bank card), and so I would avoid these. EURONET ATMs are particularly ones to avoid – they don’t even tell you that there is a charge or ask you if you are willing to accept a charge – they just take the money and you are surprised when you see this extra charge on your statement.

Be aware that if you are using a UK bank card (or a bank account from any other country) there are likely to be hidden charges. The above is based on using the Multibanco system if you have a Portuguese bank account with a Multibanco bank!

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