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Cash vs Credit Cards
We keep hearing that cash is widely popular in Portugal where here in the US most everyone uses credit cards. Are you not able to use credit cards at grocery stores, restaurants and or shopping?
That is most likely true in the smaller towns/villages. Here in Porto and in Lisbon, credit/debit cards are widely used. There are occasions when you cannot but for the most part, I hardly ever need cash.
We find MBway (digital payment system) is very widely accepted, even in our local farmer's markets. Your Portuguese banking app is connected to the system, and you just scan a QR code to pay. We rarely use cash. ApplePay is also fairly common.
While cash almost always works most places do take credit cards and debit cards. Some will only take Portugal cards that use MBWay. The cash only places have the MBWay sign with a red line through it. We have seen some restaurants that actually will not take cash but that is rare.
Our son came with his Amex card and virtually nobody accepted it. Visa and Mastercard are the dominate players.
Whereas in MX we always get local currency using our debit card in an ATM and found that's the best/cheapest way in terms of exchange rate & service charge to do so, but in Pt there was a huge charge for using our American bank debit card, but we needed cash in addition to credit cards and without a local bank we were stuck. Had we known how expensive it was to use our debit card, we would have used an exchange desk at the airport on arrival.