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.
Prepaid SIM Cards By Local Providers
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.
Meo, Nos, and Vodafone are the most-preferred local cell companies. You can buy your local SIM card at any of these companies’ own stores, convenience stores, and gas stations. Vodafone, the global one among them, has a kiosk at Lisbon Airport which you can spot in the arrivals area.
Prepaid, plug-and-use SIM cards have costs ranging from €10 to €30 since they hold different amounts of 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 has made a special option, named Travellers, for visitiors 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.
International SIM Cards
There are many other plans you can choose from Vodafone and the other cell companies as well. If you need to make international calls that are not included, remember to check costs before purchasing any SIM card.
Buying an internationally valid SIM card is another convenient way to escape from ridiculously expensive roaming rates. For example, Portugal based Lycamobile has international plans such as Lyca Mundo and Lyca Globe that comes with usable minutes ready-to-use for several international destinations. These prepaid SIM cards by Lycamobile can also be purchased at convenience stores throughout the city & the country, in gas stations, and from online channels.