Postpaid or prepaid cellphone plans

Anyone here got a postpaid cellphone plan? What do you need to open an account? Anyone know if it can be done if you are not permanently resident in Portugal, but are a GV applicant (have NIF, bank account etc).

If all the above is possible, what are the best / cheapest plans with unlimited data and a reasonable amount of minutes/SMS?

Began with MEO -postpaid – covering a package of home internet+TV+mobile, and recently switched to Vodafone because of substantially better in-service provision. Cannot speak about NOS.

Vodafone’s pricing for mobile - 5G SIM + 1GB data is €20.50 per month to €31.50 per month for 10GB (called RED): Tarifário Red - Vodafone Portugal. Vodafone have an office at the airport and you can take out a plan for 30 days and see how it goes - or ask for more information. The airport staff speak excellent English.
With MEO, telephone only plan is €17.99 per month 1GB to €27,99/mês for 10GB. Tarifários de Internet móvel para telemóvel | Net móvel MEO.
With NOS, the cost varies from €16.99 (1GB) to €26.99 (10GB):
All the above prices require a 24-month contract, and you ONLY need a NIF and bank account, and will need to agree to direct debit. The contract becomes active once the bank verifies the IBAN and direct debit. Mobile providers are not terribly interested in whether you reside locally or not, but whether you are reliable in paying. In my case, an address was required for home internet/TV etc.

There is no unlimited data on mobile, so the cost depends on how much internet you think you are likely to use on the mobile- and obviously it’s good to have the same number for banking and other 2f authentication. If you are in Lisbon all the 3 providers work very well. I find MEO and Vodafone coverage excellent in Lisbon. Out of the city, the coverage varies a lot by provider. With MEO, I had free calls to US/Canada, and see that that option is not available with Vodafone.
Towards the end of the fixed contract, return to the provider and negotiate a better deal. Once MEO have you as a customer, they become complacent. I had no problems with their mobile tariffs/coverage, but they were a pain to call to ask to upgrade anything :slightly_frowning_face:


Very helpful. Thanks. Do all these plans typically roam over the rest of Europe for free or is there additional charges to use the phone in Spain or Netherlands?

There is a standard rule within the EU that roaming costs should be “like at home”, since 2017. So ALL without exception will/should have the same rates within the EU, as in Portugal. Remember to exclude UK, Switzerland, Norway from this rule.

there are some limits to the roaming. I know there’s a data cap of like 15G. I dunno if there is a minutes cap. It’s quite generous but it does exist. The cost is the same though, yes.

FWIW if you care about roaming, I would choose Vodafone. They have direct presence/footprint in practically all countries so you get the benefits of primary-carrier, whereas MEO/etc are on datashare agreements and thus may be subject to various other quality/band-limit issues. In some countries like der Schweitz or Austria this works against you because Swisstel/A2 are so dominant that vodafone’s footprint is quite limited outside cities but in other places you get equality and you can generally get some assistance at a local vodafone shop if needed.

I’ve been roaming Europe for quite a while and have been happy with them generally. YMMV.

FWIW if you are just looking for roaming from the US, I realize that T-mobile is the cheap option, but there is a level of getting what you pay for IME. AT&T Global is the strongest in this aspect - they have roaming agreements with basically everyone everywhere, and often contract with multiple majors in the same country, so coverage is uniformly excellent IME. That said, you pay through the nose for the privilege.

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ok - so I am completely spun around… and think I should probably go with a prepaid plan instead… Let me lay out what I am trying to do and what I know so far… Anyone local to Portugal that can chime in and advise would be most appreciated.

I live in the US and would like to keep a Portugal cellphone number. Has to be an E-SIM as my phone does not support physical SIM cards. I will be in Portugal at least a week a year, and about a month a year elsewhere in Europe. The rest of the time I will be in the US. So if the provider supports Wi-Fi calling, I can actually receive calls/texts on my Portugal number without any roaming in the US - so that is preferred.

So what I would like to do is have large amount of data and some amount of calling included in my plan and would like to pay as little as possible 11 months of the year to keep my number, and I am ok paying whatever it costs to get best service (incl 5G coverage) for the 1-2 months a year I am in Europe. Since I will spend more time outside Portugal than inside every year, roaming across Europe is important.

I was going to get a postpaid plan and downgrade to the lowest plan level when I am not local. But it sounds like that is actually quite expensive even at the lowest plan levels ($20-25/month) to do so…

Only NOS supports WiFi calling in Portugal (but the reviews of their service are quite scary - not sure if I should actually avoid them altogether)

So I am wondering if I should do a prepaid NOS plan - to get WiFi calling and when I spend more time in Portugal (later) move to a different carrier.

Or go with tried and true Vodafone on a higher tier prepaid plan while I am there, and downgrade to a pay for any usage when I am not in town (except I can’t receive Portugal calls and texts when I am in the US due to no WiFi calling)

Any thoughts or advice appreciated.

This. But of course you can recieve calls and texts in the US. Why not? Also, on the lowest tier you need to exercise the phone once every six months, so you need to send a text from the US, about $2.50. So, $6.50 every six months.

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I guess you can - but it would cost much more due to roaming, if they even allow roaming to the US on pay as you go prepaid plans

Vodafone does allow worldwide roam. It is on by default.

You can receive texts for free, so you can just send yourself a text from your US phone to keep the SIM alive. Sending is expensive, and phone calls are expensive, but realistically how often do you expect to be called?

There are different vodaphone packages as well, including World ones, which cut the roaming costs outside Europe, if you truly care.

That said, you cannot expect to keep the SIM active for free. It will cost you something, somehow. Hopefully that EUR 6,50 does not actually bother you.

From what I hear the NOS WiFi does not actually usefully work and will not solve your issues.


I have the Easy Total plan. Not sure they still offer it, and the prices seem to have gone up, but you have to make a non-free call or top up every six months. The minimum top up, I’ve found, is about 10E and there is a bimonthly charge of just under 2E, so every six months you are charged just under 6E.

That might be what I have actually. One of those Easy plans anyway. I don’t think about it much, the cost is practically meaningless to keep it going, and I don’t expect any calls from PT if I’m not in PT. I did have to deal with something with Activo via voice once, which got really expensive really fast, but that was a one-off.

So I was able to get a prepaid SIM card at a Vodafone store. The issue is that they would only sell Traveller SIMs for prepaid - that SIM does not allow you to change plans. So I had to ask the store to put in a change of plan after I left Portugal to change it to an Easy plan - which they did - a post dated change. Once that change went into effect, I am able to switch plans on my mobile app. Also, you need to put your name and NIF on the account when you sign up - the store agent did not do that, and I was unable to refill the prepaid account. A guy on the phone let me know that without the name and NIF the account will be limited. Just things to know for others that go down this route.


Thanks for sharing.

Is it an esim as you wanted?

Yes, they will give you a physical sim first - put it into their own phone, convert into an esim for you. They don’t have a way to start with an esim it looks like.

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Just as an update, I went to the Vodafone store, told them I want an esim easy plan, they directly got my NIF and passport and gave me esim QR code to scan and get the plan.

Good to hear - I guess I just got taken for a ride by my store rep… :slight_smile:

For those that purchased a mobile plan in Portugal, is that data only or do get a Portuguese phone as well? I have an iPhone, I was under the impression that I just need to buy myself a prepaid cellphone plan and that would give me access to calls and data. My husband believes that we need to buy another phone. One for one country and one for Portugal…

You would naturally need a phone to insert your new PT sim-card into.
But whether it will be your existing phone simply replacing the sim, or your existing dual-sim phone with a free slot, or a completely new phone - that’s totally your choice.

Yes, but does a SIM card include a Portuguese phone number and data plan? Or is it a data plan only? For example, when I travel, I buy esim from Nomad or Airalo but that gives me data only. If I went to Vodafone or MEO for a sim, would a prepaid or post paid plan include a Portuguese phone number? I thought I would be able to use 1 iPhone and have 2 phone numbers…