Millennium BCP is holding up my Golden Visa application--how can I resolve this issue?

I’ve had the same issues with annoying requests from BCP compliance every time we move money, even asking for documentation on the source of funds that have been sitting in the account for over a year. We ended up reducing the amount of cash we held with them to bare minimum because of a real threat that they would lock us out of our account without notice.
We’ve met with our private banker in person on more than one occasion and discussed it with her but it hasn’t made any difference. I guess I should be flattered BCP thinks I’m basically Ethan Hunt. The reality is far more mundane.
If you find something better, let us know.

With regards to moving euros around, paying euro bills, and making daily euro payments, have you considered a Revolut account? I have a UK Revolut Metal account and can exchange between currencies at the real exchange rate for free. There’s no charge to transfer from the Revolut euro account to a Portuguese euro account which uses the free regulated SEPA inter-bank service and is often near-instant.

I’ve moved sums of many hundreds of GBP into and out of this account in various currencies from various countries without questions being asked following the initial KYC checks they made years ago. I would only use my Millennium account to pay the official GV bills like my upcoming final approval payment to trigger the issuance of the residency card. I mean, they haven’t even engaged with me on giving me a Debit Card so I can use the account as a normal bank account so it’s irrelevant to me as a regular bank. I pay all my other PT euro bills directly from my Revolut account for free.

Similarly I use Wise (formerly TransferWise). They have been amazing, with forex rates beating even the specialists like Currencies Direct, OFX, TorFX, etc. I’ve asked Currencies Direct and OFX if they could match Wise’s rate a few times - checking with their superiors they’ve never been able to (even on large amounts), so I stopped asking :slight_smile:

Wise transfers are super-easy, fast, fees are low and very transparent, compliance is reasonable but not OTT. Most of the €€€ for our PT house went through Wise (to a proper PT bank), which is not what it’s intended for but it was so easy and again, the best forex rates.

Danger with Wise (at least for large amounts) is there’s no human you can easily get hold of if there’s issues, unlike the specialists. That said, I’ve only needed Wise Customer Service once and they emailed back with a proper answer in a couple hours.

Revolut’s HQ is just down the road from where I work. I’ve heard they can be even cheaper than Wise. But I’ve also heard they treat their employees (especially the temp and lower-paid ones) like dirt, so am inclined not to support them as a result.

I have to agree here, using a Neo Bank instead of a traditional banks for anything else apart from payment of utilities and State Payments. Portuguese banks donot have a capability or skillsets in their compliance staff who at best are low paid, low trained, risk averse and given a minimum targets to acheive. Thus GV applicants are easy cherry pickings and every GV applicant is subject to some sort of restrictions. However, once the PT nationality has been acheived, you can breathe easy and they shall not be looking at your account in the same way.

Coming back to the point of using a Neo Bank, N26 and Revolut both does have a full banking licenses and a super easy place to do day to day transactions and a licensed bank holds their customers’ funds themselves, and deposits are protected up to €100,000 by the EU Deposit Guarentee Scheme(DGS ). This means that even if your bank should fail, up to €100,000 of your money would still be paid out to you. N26 has a German Banking license and Revolut operates on a Lithuanian Banking License for EU based clients and an UK license for non-EU based clients. However in the case of Bunq, Wise, Qonto, wirex and tons of other options available, do run their businesses on a Electronic-Money License which doesn’t protect your money in anyway.

I had a look at this again when Wise started offering to pay interest.
For Wise their Assets product does provide a degree of protection to UK registered accounts up to £85k:

And EU accounts up to Eur20k:

Well, that’s exactly the thing why I don’t use any ‘neo banks’.
Besides, I don’t have a problem with FX rates, that’s taken care of within my UK banking setup. So I have my EUR prepared, they just need to get to PT safely and promptly.
I recently had major delays with both the UK side and the PT side of the banks. On one occasion I even had to complain to the bank’s CEO and only then they solved it.
BUT at least I can find humans there. I talked to people on the phone and as a last resort there are physical branches still available.

Now imagine the same arises with Wise/Revolut you name it. Do you suppose I am going to find a human? Or a CEO will respond to me? :disguised_face:
And yes, with miniscule amounts it may work fine, but a few times I tried anything sizeable with Wise I had a pre-warning popping up saying that there is no guarantee and it may be ‘held’ until further notice with all sorts of ‘compliance’ questions hinted at.

Hence why I am really looking for a ‘traditional’ bank but smth better than MBCP.

:joy:

You can’t have it both ways, Wise is good unless you run into problems but N26 and Revolut customer service isn’t bad and I am using them as primary accounts for already over 4 years and without any major issues. They are not perfect but works on what it is intended to… If you are dissapointed with the private bank in Portugal like a MBCP and good luck with the Caixa Geral de Depósitos which is a Portuguese state-owned banking corporation and walking into a branch feels like going back to 19th century…

No offense to wise, it is a great product when launched and it continues to be reliable till date. Unless it is safeguarded by a state, their guarentees are useless as the private entities doesn’t print the money… There are safety mechanisms for an EML provider but that also comes with a Limited Liability

Maybe you have some amazing UK high street bank account with great forex rates. When I compared them to Wise, I would have ended up with substantially less € post-exchange using the banks. Like thousands less.

Again, I bought an entire house FX’ing GBP to EUR with Wise… no problems. Perhaps I was lucky, but wow it was easy. No waiting on hold to speak to a rep. Sometimes when the rates were great I was moving thousands just sat riding the train.

…but I didn’t leave it for long at Wise. The € went to a regular PT bank very quickly/smoothly after the FX.

I’m with you on this, but according to the Wise website its safeguarded by the Estonian Investor Protection Fund (and in the UK case UK FSCS). This only applies to the Assets product of course

Here’s what they say…
"All of this means that your investment will be returned to you in the event of Wise (or TINV Europe AS) going bankrupt. In addition to the protection offered through the strict segregation of our customers’ assets, the Estonian Investor Protection Sectoral Fund will cover your assets for up to 20,000 EUR. "

I’ve found the customer service through the app chat at Revolut to be very responsive. I use Revolut for everyday card spending in Thailand at no exchange cost. The last large transaction I did was to send HKG2,500,000 from HSBC in HK by SWIFT transfer costing HKD5 and taking 20 minutes to my UK Revolut IBAN, immediately exchanging the HKD to GBP, and transferring the GBP from Revolut to my Luxembourg investment account IBAN which took a few hours. I will do the reverse from Luxembourg, to Revolut in GBP, exchange to EUR, and do SEPA transfers to Portuguese IBANs when I buy a property in Lisbon this year. The large sums won’t sit in the Revolut account for more than a few minutes but I do keep a savings account with my float of about GBP50k in Revolut which is protected as the custodian bank is Allica Bank covered by the UK’s FSCS as a normal bank.

I can’t help but compare this to the nightmare that was HSBC Premier for 10 years when I had Premier accounts in Malaysia, China, Channel Islands, and the UK suffering from really terrible internal exchange rates between these accounts and complete stovepipe operations. I closed them all down after I’d road-tested Revolut for a while.

I do believe that having a “real” local bank account is desirable (Bangkok Bank in Thailand, First Direct in the UK, Millennium in Portugal) for certain local transactions including the AIMA payments for our Golden Visas but none of these institutions get my day to day or large one-off transactions now.

Agreed. They messed up so many times for me. Dropped them and never looked back.

You see, that’s the step where I am having the issue with my ‘regular PT bank’.
You are using the same pattern, you are just doing FX outside of ‘regular bank’ I do it inside.

Guys, you keep referring to what you do with the FX, but I am totally fine there :slight_smile:
The problem point is that destination IBAN in PT!
I am using MBCP for that and it’s holding up every other transfer up in ‘compliance’.

So where do you hold your PT IBANs?

For the record, I use Wise for all international transfers and they are great, but that has still triggered compliance requests from BCP, both inbound and outbound. To transfer out of Portugal to US with Wise, it moves via Wise Belgium. Still an international transfer as far as BCP is concerned.

Haven’t tried Revolut but I’ll check them out

I used HSBC Premier for wires to the new accounts set up at NovoBanco for GV application. It took about 2 days for completion but I had no compliance issues. Transfer was from US. I am interested to hear what problems you had with them so that I can keep that in mind for the future.

I should note I was with ‘HSBC Offshore’ (now called ‘HSBC Expat’ I believe), and it’s been a long time since I ran away screaming from them so I don’t remember everything.

  • Hyper-sensitive fraud detection - Declined payments to merchants I’d regularly used in the past. Would suspend/cancel my card on a whim, usually just days before I was to travel somewhere.
  • No useful ‘HSBC Offshore’ branch you could walk into to sort things out, not in Central London anyway. Could fly to Jersey I guess if you were annoyed enough.
  • Mastercard was issued by HSBC UK, whereas HSBC Offshore was in Jersey - So just paying off my card every month was like sending money to the moon.
  • Last straw was when HSBC UK Mastercard Collections started calling me (and charging for ‘late payment’) because HSBC Offshore failed to transfer my payment to them. I always pay my credit card off each month, in this case 6 days before it was due - but apparently not enough time for HSBC to pay itself.

You’ve quoted my answer to your question. Revolut is integrated into the SEPA payments system including supporting SEPA Instant which transfers euros within the SEPA area in seconds to a PT IBAN. (SEPA is the euro’s equivalent of SWIFT.) So the exchange and transfer are two sides of the same coin. Once you have euros in Revolut - which is also integrated into the UK and US payment systems for local GBP and USD transfers into your account - you can make free instant transfers to PT IBANs. Your euro payments to PT IBANs never need touch your Millennium bank account and your onerous compliance issues are solved. The only time I would use Millennium would be if the payment is to the PT government as part of the GV process.

1 Like

This depends where you open your Revolut account. I opened my Revolut account in the US, and while I can exchange $1000 / month to euros for very good rate (basically interbank rate), they charge up to 5% to send those euros to the PT bank, because it is an “international transfer”.

I don’t now if I could open an EU revolut account instead, but if I did then I would have to report that on FBAR…

Not being American I know not of this FBAR of which you speak. I suppose it depends whether the convenience having a second Revolut domiciled in the EU (or specifically PT) would be more or less than your FBAR reporting. I guess you’d be able to do a free Revolut to Revolut transfer and then send euros from the PT Revolut account to a PT IBAN account for free.

I subscribe to Revolut Metal UK and get the subscription back on cash-back on purchase but then I use Revolut for day to day spending in Thailand so it’s easy to get the value on top of the unlimited forex at the interbank rate. YMMV. Depends on how you’d use the account and how often you would use it. I’ll end up with a Revolut Metal PT account and a Revolut UK account but only because I want the travel insurance to be valid for travel ex-Portugal. Anyway, options and we all have different circumstances. Back on topic for the OP, I will use this Revolut Metal PT for all my day to day spending and payments when I live in Portugal and leave Millennium as the custodian of my GV share certificate which seems to be a role they must play.