I've been in Lisbon for two weeks and have been using my Wise MasterCard, which has worked fine in other European cities. However, I've encountered two restaurants in Lisbon that refused to accept my card and claimed to only accept "Portuguese cards". I haven't encountered this issue in other European cities and I'm curious if this is a common practice in Portugal. Can you provide any information on why some restaurants may only accept local credit cards, and if there are any specific types of credit cards that are more widely accepted in Lisbon?

How common is it for restaurants in Lisbon to only accept Portuguese credit cards?

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    I am not sure about Portugal, but it is also in other European countries not at all uncommon that there is an independent, domestic bank card network and that some shops and other merchants only accept domestic bank cards connected to that network. The card acceptance fees are usually significantly lower than for international credit cards. Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 14:03
  • I take it you haven't been to any German cities, then?
    – njzk2
    Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


They were referring to cards issued as part of the Multibanco network. Unfortunately for tourists, there are many countries with their own independent card issuance authority, making it a hassle to pay with a Visa/Mastercard. Other examples include:

Credit card payment fees have now been capped in the EU, however merchants are known to be highly conservative and it's likely that Visa/Mastercard will take another decade to achieve full penetration in the EU. So for now, you'll have to sometimes use cash when visiting Portugal (or take your business elsewhere).

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    The main reason 'merchants are known to be highly conservative' about credit cards is the 1% to 4% per transaction fee, which is not required when using the girocard that everyone has as part of their bank account (since 1979 originaly in the form of Cheque guarantee card for ATM and later in shops). This is one reason why many peaple don't have a credit card, they simply don't need one since the girocard works almost everywhere in Europe. When I went regulaly to Poland for work I used my bank card for all payments with no extra charges. Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 16:54
  • @MarkJohnson that's not the case since 2016 when card fees were capped in the EU. It's already much better now but still not 100% done. Personally I just take my business elsewhere when I see stragglers like that but cash is always another option.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 17:20
  • Girocard: 0.25-0.30% ; debitcard: 0.89-2.75% ; creditcard: 1.0-3.0% plus around 7 cents per transaction. Kartenzahlung: Kosten für Händler in 2023 Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 17:35
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    Although not really relevant for the otherwise correct answer, there is some basic misunderstandings in the comments. Cards from the girocard network can only be used in Germany. The reason why they usually work abroad (not only in European countries) is that the cards are almost always co-branded with either Maestro or V-Pay. If the physical card is used outside Germany, the girocard function is irrelevant and the payment is done either over the Mastercard or Visa networks with the relevant fees applicable for the merchant. Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 20:27
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    User fees are also very different from bank to bank. With the cards from my German bank, it is usually cheaper for me as a customer to use my credit card for payments if I am outside the Euro zone. If I use my co-branded girocard and V-Pay card, my bank charges a flat fee, but gives me a better currency exchange rate. If I use my credit card, there is no flat fee, but I get a worse exchange rate. Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 20:31

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