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What is a basic bank account?

The basic bank account is a current account offering the holder low-cost access to a set of banking services considered essential.

As well as opening and maintaining the basic bank account, the holder may, at no additional cost:

  • Have a debit card to make transactions on the basic bank account; 
  • To make transactions on the basic bank account through ATMs in Portugal and the other EU Member States;
  • To make transactions through the homebanking service (i.e. the credit institution's website) and the credit institution's branches;
  • To make deposits, withdrawals, payments for goods and services and direct debits;
  • To make intrabank transfers (i.e. transfers to accounts held within the same credit institution as the basic bank account);
  • To make interbank transfers (i.e. transfers to accounts held in other institutions) through ATMs, without restriction over the number of transactions that may be made, and through homebanking, with the latter restricted to a maximum of 24 national and EU interbank transfers per calendar year.

Transactions possible in basic bank accounts

Channel

Maximum limit on transactions

Deposits

In-branch
ATMs

No limit

Withdrawals

In-branch
ATMs

No limit

Payment for goods and services

ATMs
Payment terminals
Through homebanking

No limit

Direct debits

In-branch
ATMs
Through homebanking

No limit

Transfers to accounts held in the same bank

In-branch
ATMs
Through homebanking

No limit

Transfers to accounts held in other Portuguese banks

ATMs

No limit

Transfers to accounts held in other Portuguese banks and in the EU

Through homebanking

24 per calendar year

 

 

Who can open a basic bank account?

Any individual can access basic bank accounts if they do not have a current account. If an individual has a single current account, he/she can also convert it into a basic bank account.

However, there are certain exceptions:

  • An individual who has other current accounts may be a co-holder on the basic bank account with a person over the age of 65 or with a permanent disability level of 60% or more if they do not have other accounts.
  • An individual that is already co-holder of a basic bank account with a person over the age of 65 or with a permanent disability level of 60% or more may access a basic bank account individually if he/she does not have other current accounts.
  • A customer who has been notified that his/her current account will be closed may ask to open a basic bank account.

 

Which institutions provide these accounts?

The provision of basic bank accounts is compulsory for all credit institutions that provide the public with the services included in the basic bank account, i.e. banks, savings banks, mutual agricultural credit banks and the central mutual agricultural credit bank.

 

How much does a basic bank account cost?

For providing basic bank account services, the credit institutions may not apply fees, expenses or other charges that annually and as a whole represent a value above 1% of the value of the social support index. In 2019, the annual cost of the basic bank account may not exceed €4.35 (corresponding to 1% of the social support index). 

 

In case of dispute with the credit institution, individuals may access alternative dispute resolution procedures. 

Credit institutions that provide basic bank accounts are obliged to partner with at least two alternative dispute resolution bodies. 

Thus, if the bank customer has a dispute with the credit institution for a value equal to or less than the threshold for the courts of first instance (currently €5,000), he/she may access these alternative dispute resolution procedures. 

 

Find out more about the basic bank account on the Bank Customer Website, the Banco de Portugal website that supports all bank customers.