🇵🇹 Monzo in Portugal [Discussion]

Like many countries small businesses sometimes have card machines which are “out of order”. This is not always true - they just want to run a cash business which is easier to hide from the tax man. Portuguese people need honest tax paying businesses - ask first, if the shop, restaurant or whatever won’t take your card, walk out. You might find their machine starts working again.

Interesting fact:

Portugal has the highest proportion of cash machines in Western Europe with 1,516 machines per one million residents.

Dec 2016

Just got back from 2 weeks in Lisbon. Used Monzo almost everywhere with no problem, just a few things to note

  • lots of bars are cash only
  • a few places claim to be ‘local cards only’
  • entrance fee to Sintra’s Pena Palace wouldn’t accept MasterCard (other cards were fine), so I’d recommend taking a back up card incase
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Hi, I’m due to get my card on Saturday and I got it initially as a recommendation from Martin Lewis for preloading euros. How do I do this. What is the best and cheapest way to use the card abroad (in Portugal)?

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You just load it with £££. Once in Portugal you can use it in ATMs to withdraw €€€ out use it as a standard payment method for €€€ purchases.

There are no fees from Monzo and you get the MasterCard exchange rate which is pretty good. You just have to make sure you pay for everything in Euros (not the shots own conversion to GBP) and avoid ATMs that charge a fee themselves.

you need to make sure you are a verified user to use the card in foreign ATMs.

The card, although a prepaid card is just the same to use as a normal debit card - i.e. can use for contactless payments or insert into POS machine with your PIN number. - always chose pay in local currency for POS terminals and ATMs - some parts of Portugal don’t seem to want to use POS terminals and prefer cash for some reason :slight_smile:

The card can be ‘topped up’ instantaneously using the app with WIFI connection from your registered debit card that you used for your initial top up - so don’t ‘carry’ too much balance on your card at any one time just in case you lose it

Always useful to carry some cash with you - which can be withdrawn from ATMs once in Portugal if you’re brave enough to trust the card and carry no cash when you leave for Portugal - I usually carry about €100 on me when I go on holiday from previous hols - you will get a better rate in Portugal rather than exchanging in UK post office travel agents etc as its commission free and gets the mastercard rate of the day when you withdraw from a local ATM

Always carry another bank card with you just in case :slight_smile:

you can find further information about Portugal by searching ‘Portugal’ using the frying pan top right of screen


Off to Madeira on Thursday. Only just got my Monzo card. Was it easy enough to find an ATM that doesn’t charge ? We are staying at a hotel by the coast near Funchal.

You may find this post useful


Used my Monzo card during my recent stay in Lisbon. Had no problems with it at various restaurants and shops. Didn’t try using an ATM. No issues to report, no fees and exchange rate was favourable.


Just got back from 2 weeks in Portugal. Monzo card was accepted everywhere that accepts regular debit/credit cards. Very impressed with the awesome rates. Spot rate every time.

One time the bill I was paying was more than what I had on my card, however, I quickly opened the app, transferred enough money (all took about 20 seconds while the waiter was standing there) and then instantly was able to pay the bill. So impressed with the transfer speed. :slight_smile:


I went to the Algarve in May and where I was it was very much cash only. However there are free cash machines on every corner just about.

I was in Tavira, lots of the restaurants especially specified ‘no cards’ on their front doors.


quick question and its always confused me when travelling. Im off to Portugal this week and will be looking to use my Monzo card. Whilst at an ATM if im ask to convert the currency rate should I choose Euro or GBP?

And also the same if im paying at a shop, should I select pay in Euro or GBP?


Hey, it’s always better to choose the local currency (in this case EUR), this way Monzo gets to apply the currency conversion at the Mastercard rate. :slight_smile:


99,999% cases you want to select local currency, so EUR in this case. All options to pay in card currency’s are no different than paying with debit card from high street bank. It’s called dynamic currency conversion and always includes some markup and not always the best exchange rate.

Some merchants might claim that they can’t accept payment in EUR (very rarely it’s true) and few ATMs don’t allow to withdraw without DCC, but usually you can navigate between yes/no and select local currency for withdrawals.

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Worth noting that needed to turn on magnetic strip to use Monzo on the public transport ticket machines.


Where was this? I found that all the places I went to around Lisbon/Cascais seemed happy with chip+pin :smile:

Was at the Airport train ticket machine. Rejected first two attempts, but it was an insert and remove card reader. Assumed it was magnetic, turned on and it worked. Other than that, agree most places accept chip and pin. However, as already noted, quite a few places only accepted Portuguese cards. But taking out cash on your Monzo means it’s only a slight inconvenience.

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just to add a reply. weve just come back from Portugal (Albufeira area) and pretty much used the card everywhere. ATM’s seemed OK. I was a bit wary of the Euronet ATM’s but seemed OK. Was getting a rate of around €1.10 for the first few days, then it dropped to €1.09. Used in Lidl, Petrol stations and several restaurants in the area.

thanks for the advice and will be using again

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No problems at restraunts, cafes, ATM and bars. What more can you ask for! Brilliant card


Just got back from a few days in Lisbon, didn’t have a great time with Monzo. Lots and lots (I’d say 75%) of card readers refused our Monzo cards and my Halifax Clarity card. One guy told us that there’d been issues with Monzo and Halifax cards “for the last few weeks” but before that they’d been fine.
Overall, it wasn’t a huge deal for us because we were able to get cash out at ATMs without any trouble, but on one occasion we weren’t near an ATM and had to use a Santander card, which came with a hefty fee. Bit annoying, hopefully it can be sorted out.

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