Coming to Portugal from outside the EU? It’s important to plan how you can save money both in phone calls and data before you go.
If you have an unlocked phone, you may avoid roaming charges that are excessively expensive by replacing your SIM card with a prepaid SIM card in Portugal. Otherwise, you may purchase a cheap phone in Portugal for receiving and making calls, and keep your smartphone with roaming off.
A note for visitors from inside the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway: In Portugal, you “roam like at home” since 2017 when roaming charges were abolished. What that means is that you can make calls while visiting Portugal without paying extra. Also, data traffic is capped at €4.50 per GB of data as of 2019 if you ever go over your allowance while roaming.
Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Portugal
If you’re coming from outside the EU, and you know you’re going to need to be using your phone frequently, you can buy a prepaid SIM card in Portugal, and avoid roaming charges entirely. Depending on the intended use and where in the world you want to call to, you have two options.
Buying a local SIM card
The main cell companies in Portugal are Meo, Nos, and Vodafone. Local SIM cards can be bought at any of these companies’ stores, as well as convenience stores and gas stations. Vodafone has a kiosk at Lisbon Airport in the arrivals area.
Portuguese prepaid SIM cards cost anywhere from €10 to €30 and will have minutes and data already included to use during 15 or 30 days.
Because roaming charges were abolished within the EU, if you decide to buy one local SIM card and travel to Spain, for example, you’ll pay exactly the same for calls and texts (SMS) as you do in Portugal.
Prepaid plans will not vary significantly in price or network coverage from one company to the other. However, Vodafone Travellers is made especially for visitors to Portugal.
Valid for 30 days, Vodafone Travellers includes 5GB of data, 500 minutes/SMS of domestic calls, as well as 30 Minutes/SMS of international calls (from Portugal to the EU, USA, Canada, Angola, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand). It costs €20. You can top it up if you need additional calls or data. Download the local My Vodafone app to check how much data you have remaining.
There are other plans available from Vodafone and the other cell companies. If you need to make international calls that are not included, remember to check costs before purchasing any SIM card.
Buying an international SIM card
Buying an international SIM card is another option to avoid expensive roaming rates.
For example, Lycamobile operates in Portugal and has international plans such as Lyca Mundo and Lyca Globe, with minutes included for several international destinations.
Lycamobile prepaid SIM cards can also be purchased at convenience stores in downtown Lisbon and in Portugal, in gas stations as well as online.