Getting Phone Service in Portugal | Settling into Portugal | Life Abroad


I’ve been living here in Portugal for two and a half years and I am the founder of black and Portugal and the liable Melon Collective. I just wanted to come here and write a quick article on getting phone service, upgrading your phone, and what phone service providers are out there. If you just moved here or thinking about moving here and doing your research stay with me till the end of this article.

When we came in August of 202, we ended up getting just a temporary SIM card, our plans were about 15 a month each and that was just for like some data. I didn’t want to rush into getting a phone service because there were so many options out there and I’m going to share some of the options that are available and how they compare to U.S. brands that you are familiar with.

Phone Service Providers In Portugal

1. Vodafone

The number one top ranking is Vodafone. I have one and I would say Vodafone is compared to a service like Verizon in the States. I’ve never had any problems, I mean it was that one time that the internet was hacked here back in 2021, and like nobody’s internet was working it was crazy times but Vodafone is number one.

2. NOS

Number two would be NOS, it is compared to AT&T although it’s still good, in my opinion, it’s not as great as Vodafone or Verizon

3. MEO

Next, we have MEO. MEO is compared to T-Mobile. T-Mobile can be good and can also be bad but it’s literally at the bottom barrel of the three top ones that many people have. Please do your research, what works for me may not work for you.

3. Airalo 

I also love this company called Airalo, Airalo allows you to purchase eSIMs, and you use them all over the world I used them in Morocco and Spain when I was going through all my minutes and all my data. I was there for a month and I used it in Andora and I have used it in other parts of Europe. I highly recommend it and you can make use of my code to tap into it and you get get US$3 off your first eSIM data pack from Airalo. It’s super simple super easy and super affordable and it works well in the United States too.

I can’t talk too much about Vodafone and their perks for their phone service but, I know for NOS, you get free movie tickets. If you buy one movie ticket, you get one free. I don’t ever get movie tickets on the buy “one get one free” because I don’t have the app which means I have to download it from the European app store and my region for my iPhone is in the United States. So unfortunately I don’t take advantage of that but if you do have, you could take advantage of that too.

Pretty positive Afro American woman laughs while calls on smartphone talks in roaming has curly hair dressed in casual clothes poses outside over blurred background makes international communication

How to get a phone line

Now that you picked your preferred service provider, how do you get a phone line in here? There are several ways to get a phone line but I would suggest that you bring your phone with you to Europe because getting a phone here can be a nightmare. I had just recently upgraded to the iPhone 15, I’ve had the iPhone 12 since 2019 and my camera was busted, my phone was opening up different apps. It was time for me to upgrade and my daughter also wanted an upgrade so we went into Vodafone thinking it’s just like the U.S. you go in and you say you want a new phone and you just pay your little deposits and you do a monthly fee. It does not work that way, you can only have one prepaid line which you do like the monthly payments, and then I had to pay upfront on the other line. I paid 300 for one iPhone and then, every time you pay your bill you get points, so I had the equivalent to $300 worth of points. When I wanted to get the other phone, they were like no “You’re supposed to use the points” When you want to put your phone on a monthly payment you have to bring your next of kin, all your bank statements, they want to know how much money you’re making. It was hard to get a new phone. I was there for a very long time, they didn’t have the phone till I ordered them. They came in and I looked at the paper and I noticed an extra charge they said that they charged 23% tax on the cost of the iPhone Not only was I paying monthly installments, but I was also charged 23% of $1,600 because I had the iPhone 15 Pro and whatever the medium tier storage is. That’s what I got, and I was like you know what “This is crazy, there’s no way I’m paying an extra” I think it was like $600 600 on top of a phone, and I ended up paying for both phones in person up front. Once that’s out the way, you’re good but if you don’t want to spend a whole lot of money, bring your phone or you can just get a cheap phone. You don’t have to get an iPhone, plenty of other great phones are out there.

When you go to the store, make sure you bring your passport if you don’t have your residency card already and proof of address, as well as your IBAN if you have a Portuguese bank account. When you go into these stores, make sure you’re very clear on what you want, make sure you’re very thorough and clear and telling them what you want and seeing the package that they have to offer you.

It normally takes about 20 minutes max to activate your card right there. If you do get a temporary SIM card, make sure you keep the little folder thing it comes in because if you turn your phone off or you remove that SIM and you put the SIM card back in then you have to put the PIN number in and that only happens when you have a temporary SIM card.

I will say here in Europe, I know in America there are eSIMs in the iPhones. However, in Europe we are still using regular SIM cards so just keep that in mind as well for when you put it in there if you have a plan it doesn’t matter at all it’s already done and you don’t have to worry about that little the PIN number on the card. Now the reason why I said that you should include your IBAN is because your IBAN is pretty much like a routing number that is hooked up to your account. I have all my bills paid by autopay. I am not dealing with the Portuguese bureaucracy trying to pay bills and all that other stuff. I set up automatic payment they send me a notice about how much the bill is and they let me know the date that it will be coming out.

Another way you can pay for your phone service is through your banking app, there is an NB way and there are options for you to pay by reference number as well. When you get your bill every month, there will always be a reference or ID number. No matter what bill you get in Portugal there’s always going to be that number so you can pay. You can also pay for your monthly Bank fees at the ATM You can go in person or you can call. I do not recommend calling but you can pay directly on the app.

Some of these apps do not work unless you are in the region of Europe. I am not in the region of Europe, I am still keeping my American region because I do have some apps that I need that are solely based for use in the U.S. I do have an ebook here that has a collection of black-owned restaurants and establishments here in Lisbon. It has a total of 81 Plus and counting. Every time I find a new one, I add it. It is 35 Euros for the ebook in the Google Mask collection. What’s great about this is that you can easily download the app to your phone, it uploads to Google Maps and you can see what is close to you. There’s no other list out there at all and it’s a great resource while you’re here visiting Lisbon, whether you’re living here, visiting, or want to gift it to someone check it out right here. I have a ton list of my favorite restaurants and things to do.

Phone Plans

If you’re wondering how much a phone plan costs a month, right now I pay €49 for me, and my daughter’s phone lines. I have unlimited internet and she has 30 GB worth of Internet I chose this because she needed a lot of Internet, because kids love to stream stuff. I need the internet because I do business from my phone, I’m always on the go and I always want to make sure I have connectivity. It does not have to be that price for you. For a single plan with only one phone tied to it, it could range between 15 and €25 a month. Now if you want a family plan with multiple lines for two people, it is €49 a month but it can range anywhere between 40 to €60 a month depending on how many phones you have. One thing I really like about Vodafone and a lot of the other phone services here in Portugal is that you can use them all over the EU. As long as it’s part of the Schengen zone, I unfortunately am not aware of all the countries that are in the Schengen zone because I’m American and these are things that we don’t necessarily learn or pay attention to.

Here are some examples where I was charged €49 per line connectivity; when we arrived back in the US when I turned my phone on I forgot to switch off the line for Portugal and I got a message saying “If you want to have internet service press yes or no” I didn’t do either, I automatically turned it off and I was hit up with €49 time 2 lines which is equivalent to two months worth of phone service, then we went to Switzerland. I did not know Switzerland was not part of the Schengen zone and an additional 49 old times to charge and then when we went to Endora, I didn’t know Endora was not part of the Schengen zone so we got hit up with another 49 times two charges. When I went to Vodafone, I said “Where can I use these phone apps?” because I can’t use them here, I can’t use them there, it’s like you have to use them within the Schengen zone I asked for the countries that make up the Schengen zone and she literally just went on Google printed me out the most basic map and was like “Here you go” so make sure it is in the Schengen zone at least for Vodafone you will be covered. If it’s not, please turn off the cellular service on your phone. If you have an iPhone it’s super simple, I’m not sure about your Android users but it should be just as simple.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions. I hope that you guys are enjoying my content, if you do and would like to support me you can buy me a coffee right here

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