Madeira Relocation & Expat Services
Money And Banking In Madeira Portugal
Basic Information About Money And Banking In Madeira Portugal - The Central Bank of Portugal, Banco de Portugal, is the regulatory authority for the Portuguese banks. There are more than 150 banks in Portugal which include Portuguese banks, foreign banks, investment banks and digital banks. The majority of these banks are part of the Portuguese Banking Association.
The banking system in Portugal offers quite a wide range of products such as
Checking and saving accounts
Loans and overdrafts
Credit and debit cards
Insurance - including health insurance
Safety Deposit Box
and the Multibanco ATM system which allows cash withdrawals, bill payment and money transfer, password change, top-up of mobile phone, paying Portuguese taxes and social security contributions.
Banks that have branches in Madeira include:
Bank of Portugal, Central bank
Caixa Geral de Depósito
Crédito Agrícola Funchal, private co-operative financial group
To open a bank account in Madeira
As a foreigner, whether you are a resident in Madeira or not, you can open a bank account in Madeira. Before opening the account you must have a Portuguese Taxpayer Identification Number, or NIF. In addition to the NIF, you must provide
Proof of Identity, such as passport of the National Identification Card
Proof of your permanent address, such as utility bills for your permanent address with your name. If you are not resident in Madeira but own a property, you still have to provide proof of residency for your permanent place of resident, not the address in Madeira.
Proof of income from your employer if you are still employed or pension if you are retired.
Your last three bank statements.
A Portuguese phone number for receiving activation codes
And at least 100 Euros to deposit in the account.
If you would ask which bank is the best, there is no good answer to this question. Depending on where you have lived before and what kind of banking system you have used, you may find the banking system in Portugal great or mediocre. It is often a matter of your previous experience and present expectations.
In many organizations in Madeira, there is a significant difference between the quality of the products and that of the services provided by the organization. The banking system is no exception. This means although the bank officially offers beneficial products, receiving those products effectively and punctually is not guaranteed. If you are applying for a mortgage, you may give it more time than officially stated, refer back to check the status of your request more often, and be prepared to wait and be asked for more documents even at the end of an application process. Often, the quality of services strongly depends on one manager or on a single key employee who is serving
you or is in charge of your account. Hence it is not unusual for people to change to a different branch or bank because the manager at that branch is more attentive, reliable, or service oriented.
The official working hours of the banks in Madeira are from 8.30 am to 3pm. However if you enter a bank at noon, count with reduced staff numbers as they do take their lunch time very seriously! A client reported that, “ When we went to open an account at one of the banks in Funchal, half way during the long process, the employee sent us to her colleague’s desk and disappeared. When asked why, we were told because she had to go for lunch!” In general things could bee quite slow and you should give all services more time than you are used to.
Bank Fees and Withdrawals
Like most other banks in the world, the Portuguese banks charge for their banking services. For general bank account services the banks charge an average of €5.00-8.00 per months. Some banks offer special accounts such as students accounts for the youth with no monthly charges. There is a €15 charge for international transfers of up to €50,000 and €30.00 for transfers above that amount. This charge may vary depending on the size of transfer and the bank.
For cash withdrawals from the bank without the use of an ATM, most banks charge a €12-16 withdrawal fee, regardless of the amount that you are withdrawing. It is also important to note that not all branches have the cash withdrawal service, i.e. you will only be able to withdraw cash from an ATM machine.
Multibanco machines are plentiful on the island, it is easy to find one in most places. A Multibanco Machine accepts most major bank cards. The major drawback with using Multibanco is that there is a withdrawal limit of €200 per transaction, with the maximum of e €400 per day! This is quite limiting if you need to have cash at hand! However, some banks such as Novobanco offer cash withdrawal machines on their premises that allow withdrawals of up to 2500 euros/day.
Of course you can draw cash from branches that offer that service by either paying the withdrawal fee or purchasing a set of checks ahead of time and using them for free withdrawals. If the amount that you withdraw is 5000 Euros or more, the bank may ask you to fill in a declaration form and state the purpose of the withdrawal! This was a shock the first time we came across this rule. The bank clerk explained that this was a measure against money laundering. But it is quite strange for many of us coming from countries where we can withdraw cash from our own accounts without having to justify it.
If you have a foreign card and use an ATM machine (not the multibanco) you could withdraw €500 per transactions as long as the bank that issued your card permits it. You can also use your card multiple times in a day. There is a 2-4% transaction charge on these withdrawals.
Most banks offer their clients online banking through websites and apps to carry out banking transactions such as cash withdrawals, bill payment, money transfer, account settings, top-up of mobile phone, creating statements, paying Portuguese taxes and social security contributions. Although the use of online banking should offer the convenience of carrying out these transactions from your own home or office, some
banks apply restrictions that relinquish this convenience. For example, in 2022 Novobanco sent this message to their clients:
“ … we inform you that, temporarily, the limit for the following operations on PCs and apps has been reduced, and there is no forecast for its replacement:
Internal Transfers (NB - NB off-balance sheet) - 2.000€ (previously 3.000€)
Service Payments - 6.000€
Purchase payments - 6.000 euros
Immediate transfers - 500 euros (previously 2.000 euros)
SEPA transfers - EUR 8.500
This decision was taken as a security measure in view of the existence of fraud related to these types of transactions."
For most daily routines these amounts are acceptable but if you have a larger bill to pay and are planning to pay it online, you may have to pay it online over a couple of days or visit the bank in person.
Applying for a mortgage
Whether you are a resident or not, you can apply for a mortgage if you fulfill the financial conditions. These include providing proof of income, previous bank statements, personal data, and credit reports. You may apply for a mortgage through mortgage brokers, many of whom work with real estate agencies, or contact a bank directly.
Closing a Bank Account
Although some banks may allow account closure online, most Portuguese banks request your personal visit to a branch for closing the account. In general in order to close and account banks request that you return and cancel any debit and credit cards and cheques connected to that account, cancel any standing orders in and out of the account, and give the bank a notice period usually between 2-4 weeks.
If you have a complaint about a bank
To submit a complaint about a bank or other financial institution, you can request their physical complaints book, or fill in the digital book at www.livroreclamacoes.pt. you can also file a complaint directly with the Banco de Portugal.