You can eat lunch in a restaurant with the staff from the bank next door and pay with your credit card. If you come back for dinner the same day at the same place – don’t be surprised if the owner says Not Possible – not working when you hand over the same credit card to pay. Don’t be surprised if a bar don’t accept cards even though the door shows a list of VISA, Mastercard and similar logos. And many of the small local tascas has a sign ‘Nao temos multibanco’ (we don’t accept cards).
Like in a lot of other countries is a huge black economy in the restaurant business which is why they only accept cash. BUT the problem is also the transaction costs that most Portuguese either can’t or won’t pay.
So you will need cash when you travel in Portugal…
If a restaurant won’t accept credit cards don’t panic. There is always an ATM close by. Just be careful: Getting cash from the ATMs can be an expensive affair. Especially from the ones from Euronet.
Actually they are all around Europe so watch out OR be very careful if you need cash and can’t find other alternatives. Not only do you get a bad rate – they will also charge you a fee that is much higher than the official banks.
Find a regular Multi Banco (MB) instead. If you cannot find one and are forced to use Euronet always decline the conversion rate offered by the ATM. If you’re asked if you want to pay in local currency or your home currency, always choose “local currency” option.
And check the costs carefully before accepting.