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Opening bank account

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missymess
8/12/2019 13:16 EST

We are thinking of having me go to Ponta Delgada in April to open our bank account and find an apartment. We will contact a lawyer maybe a month before to get our NIFs. We are thinking of Activo Bank. Various questions. Can it be opened online from the US? If not, at a Millenium branch? Can I make it a joint account if I have our NIFs (are there one for each of us?) if I have his passport with me, or photo copies? If not can he be added later? How do you fund it? Bring Euros or is there some way to transfer funds at that point? Trying to figure this out so we will be ready to start in the spring.
Thanks!

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realspear
8/12/2019 15:19 EST

I didn't see an Activo store in Ponta Delgada and you need to have one to open the account with them. Millenium will let you "open" an account online but it will not be finalized until they see your documents in person. I was able to open an account from the US but I couldn't do anything with it until I went in, although they allowed me to use the Activo store that was in the same mall.

My wife was with me, so I can't answer on the adding later part, but given the way things work in Portugal, I think any non-resident going on an account is going to need to be there to show their documents in person.

We took $1000 in cash and deposited it there. You could take euros also.

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Luned
8/12/2019 20:55 EST

I just opened a bank account here in Portugal last week. I can't answer any of your joint account questions. But I do know you can transfer money electronically using Transfer Wise, at least with Milennium Bank (probably Activo, too). You need 50 euros to open the account. I couldn't figure out how to open an account from the US so I waited and did it here.

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dancebert
8/13/2019 04:18 EST

I have an ActivoBank account.

>If not, at a Millenium branch?
No

>How do you fund it?
Minimum account opening amount of 250 €. I used euros in cash.

Documents required by Activo to open an account was written assuming you're a Portuguese citizen. I called to clarified requirements for a foreigner with a residence visa. My notes are [ in braces ]:

"Minimum account opening amount of 250 €. Account opening conditional on the acceptance of the Customer by the Bank, pursuant to its Customer admission policy. Just take your ID [passport], taxpayer or citizen card [NIF], proof of address [Atestado], profession or professional status. [My memory is unclear. I think having a residence visa was sufficient]"

No URL for the above because it's a popup. Chrome browser translates.
- Go to https://www.activobank.pt/pt/public/produtos/Pages/homepage.aspx
- Click on 'Be a Customer' box.
- Click on 'Bem-vindo ao ActivoBank' box with the icon man waving and smiling at you.

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missymess
8/13/2019 10:06 EST

dancebert: Thanks!

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Alekos
8/14/2019 09:25 EST

I'd consider opening an account with N26 instead. The Portuguese banks are extremely basic and hard to deal with, and most charge monthly fees.

To transfer money we have been very happy using Transferwise. It takes only 24 hours to send USD from USA to EU into your Portuguese/European account, and the fees are by far the lowest available.
https://transferwise.com/u/eduardoa290

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missymess
8/14/2019 09:35 EST

Alekos:. Any problems using non Portuguese debit card?

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realspear
8/14/2019 09:56 EST

There are several problems with not having a Portuguese bank account.

First, many businesses do transactions via the Multibanco system. They don't take credit/debit cards for payment. They invoice directly within the Multibanco system so you can easily pay, but otherwise, it becomes more complicated.

Second, some retail establishments will not take a non-Portuguese debit/credit card. This tends to happen more outside the tourist areas but it does happen.

Third, if a machine eats your card, you have no easy way to quickly get a replacement. With Activo, you can get an immediate replacement if you can go to an Activo store quickly. With other banks, it can take a few days, but I don't know of any US banks that are going to send it to you quickly, if at all, in Portugal.

Fourth, in other parts of Europe, you may find it difficult to use a non-European card. We found that in rural Spain, we could not. Fortunately, we always had a Portuguese card.

Fifth, even if a US bank allows you to direct pay in Europe, you will pay fees.

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Bemadam
8/14/2019 10:44 EST

@ Alekos, I don't agree that Portuguese banks are extremely basic. You are probably not in a position to make that judgement if you don't speak Portuguese, don't yet live here and don't fully understand the full range of services they offer.

Activobank doesn't charge me a monthly fee, it's free. I also got a Portuguese credit card issued straight away despite me not having any Portuguese income or a job. So that's hard to beat.

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GeoffK
8/14/2019 14:39 EST

I opened an account with CGD. I had to wait a few minutes for an English speaking officer but then the process was smooth. Their online services are the equal if not better than Wells Fargo, my US bank.

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GeoffK
8/14/2019 14:39 EST

I opened an account with CGD. I had to wait a few minutes for an English speaking officer but then the process was smooth. Their online services are the equal if not better than Wells Fargo, my US bank.

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microbrain
8/14/2019 14:48 EST

We went with Millennium Bank and specifically, their Prestige Banking service. It costs more in fees, but we have a lot of personal attention. We've been here less than a month, and most recently, with our personal banker's help, were able to get a car loan to buy a new car. Cars are expensive here and we didn't want to put all the money down up front. They have a good online experience and good insurance services. Other banks may be a better value--but if you are looking for a banking relationship quickly Millennium might be a good choice.

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Alekos
8/17/2019 06:06 EST

@missymess Yes, sometimes it can be a problem. Most places use two machines for debit/credit card payments. They call one Visa (credit cards, including foreign cards) and Multibanco (debit cards). Many small places only have the later.

Also be aware that on most highway tolls only PT cards are accepted.

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Alekos
8/17/2019 06:15 EST

@Bemadam Lots of wrong assumptions: I do speak Portuguese, I do live in Lisbon, and I do understand the full range of services Millenium, CTT and Caixa offer, as I have accounts on all three of them.

Activobank is OK if you need a very basic account.

Regarding reviews, check this http://bit.ly/2Na8sgo and this http://bit.ly/2NlWZdV

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