Sending Money to Portugal for the Golden Visa

Hi, I’m looking ahead at the bank account openings and transferring the 350.000 euros to a bank in Portugal. The fees and exchange rate slippage rates are crazy if from a regular American bank.

Do you have recommendations on how to send this large sum of money abroad? What did you do to minimize the loss on the exchange rate and fees?

I looked into Transferwise but it seem to only allow daily send limits of 15.000, which would be 24 days of sending this money over.


I used OFX. To send over the money ($400K), I sent it to their account here in the US and they sent the money to my bank in PT. I did have t o provide documentation as to where the money was coming from. I just took screenshots from Robinhood account. I sent all this to the attorney to just to be safe in case SEF questions the origin of the money. might do it as well.

transferwise does not have any limit that I know of. My us bank limited to 100k per day.

My clever colleagues have commented that Schwab offers surprisingly competitive rates on foreign wire transfers compared to all of the alternatives: Transferwise, Revolut, xe, etc. I’m merely passing along the perspective, not vouching for it; I’d be delighted if you would double-check and post your observations, since I’ll be going down this road soon too. Other options to consider are Revolut metal and

As I am not quite ready to act, I’ve also dallied with the idea of parking the money at bullionstar in Singapore in their zero-exchange-rate, private issue gold bars, to hedge against dollar devaluation. They buy and sell gold at the same price in euros, or in dollars, with a 0.4% annualized fee for storage and insurance. I haven’t confirmed this but assuming that they allow cashing in with dollars and cashing out with Euros, I don’t see any room for exchange fees to be folded into the transaction.

According to this, Schwab is not cheaper. I am merely giving the info not providing any opinion.

Ahh, good to know. Perhaps we are getting preferential transfer pricing as a perk in our corporate-sponsored Schwab RSU accounts.

I contacted my local bank here to get a price quote on the exchange of funds. They tried to hook me up with their investment planning group and I assume to try and sell their own investments (they offered to analyze any private equity proposals for free) and oddly they never would give a simple quote on the exchange rates.

I do know that local banks don’t do anything for free so I was skeptical and doubt they are remotely competitive. I have had a good experience with Transferwise so far and the total fees and costs averaged about $250-350 per $100k transferred for me.

have no fear, TANSTAAFL still applies, they’ll make money on the bid/ask in trading you in and out of gold. though that might be cheaper than your other options; you’d have to do the math.

In truth, they have no way to be. They’re all having to use correspondent banks to talk international, and that doesn’t come for free to them. they just aren’t set up for it, so it’s mostly a waste of time to even try. My local bank actually asks me to verify anything going international because they’re concerned it’s Nigerian fraud (it’s a very small town bank I’ve used for 40+ years so I think they are genuine in their concern).

a major bank can do it more cheaply because they can net all the flows and avoid actually executing in the market. That’s why TW can be so cheap, they simply focus on it.

The bid/ask spread is literally zero, in dollars or in euros, for 10 or more 100g BullionStar gold bars. In other words, they buy and sell at exactly the same price at any given moment, fluctuating with the underlying price of gold. They make their money on the 0.4% annual storage+insurance fee. Quoting from the product page:

No spread between the buy and sell price! At any given time, the buy price for 10 pieces or more is the same as the sell price!

You’re welcome to confirm on the BullionStar Singapore web site; see the product page for BullionStar Gold Bars with No Spread - 100 g.

Their markup on the bars is about 5.5% which is pretty steep.

They can’t make a profit at 0.4% per year. My guess what is going on is that they are leveraging and hedging, and trying to generating profit in that way which could put the investor at some risk. I am sure the company is legit but as Jeff said, TANSTAAFL.

Interesting observations. They claim that their inventory is regularly audited, all bars are stored in segregated (per-person) bags in the vault, and that they send pictures of the contents whenever transfers occur. As long as there is zero spread between buying and selling, the markup effectively cancels out.

I’ll run a scenario now to see how this might work:

Scenario 1: BullionStar gold bars for 1 day
buy 10x100g bars: $6408.87 * 10 = $64088.70
store for 1 day: 0.39% / 365 * $64088.70 = $0.68
net funds in = $64089.38
sell 10x100g bars: €5436.08 * 10 = €54360.80
unknown: wire transfer fees w/o currency conversion

Scenario 2: TransferWise
net funds in = $64089.38
fees = 0.44% ($280.61)
net funds out = €53896.08

Scenario 3: mid-market with zero fees (hypothetical, from xe com)
net funds in = $64089.38
net funds out = €54134.60

Remarkably, the BullionStar conversion yield is better than the unattainable “mid-market with zero fees” yield. I wrote to them asking whether USD -> gold -> EUR transactions are permitted, and whether there are any catches and extraordinary fees. I’ll send an update when I hear back.

BullionStar replied thus:

At BullionStar, we aim to make investing in precious metals simple and accessible for everyone.
You can make a buy order in USD and make a sell order in EUR as long as the receiving or sending bank account is under your name.

We do not charge any additional fees for wire. However, please be informed that all banking fees will be fully borne by the customer.

This seems promising.

This is a very creative idea. The “all banking fees will be fully borne by the customer” is concerning. I’m not sure what that means. There must be some implicit spread on the currency exchange, and perhaps that is what they mean that there is some banking markup on the currency conversion from gold to EURO.

You might be able to determine this by pricing to buy in euros and see how they try to convert the euro to gold.

There are larger considerations at play also. In the time we have been discussing, the USD to EURO rate has fallen from .857 to .8437…

ugh. don’t remind me.

Another thing to consider is whether this is going to get strung up in AML crap. e.g. “why are you doing this this way, who is this bullionstar, blablabla” that causes you grief that’s greater than the couple hundred euros you save. It has to end up at a bank, and banks can be funny that way. Like, who the hell are you and where did this money come from.


In cases like yours (property purchases abroad) I’ve used Interactive Brokers (IB for short), which for major currency pairs (e.g. USD/EUR) offers very tight buy/sell rates and negligible commissions. Howewer, they generally don’t support third-party transfers, so you’ll need a bank account in the US and one in the Eurozone exactly in the same name as your brokerage account with IB.
Incoming funds take three working days before becoming available, and the two transfers (to and from IB) usually take one each, so expect not less than one week for the complete operation.

Here’s another option for currency exchange that seems too good to be true.

I’ve been conversing with a very helpful contact at Bison Bank about opening an account. He advised me early this morning that there is no margin or spread for exchanging dollars to Euros in their multi-currency home banking account. As an added bonus, there are no monthly fees for accounts with a net value of 100K Euros or more, including fund investments. The remote account opening process seems reasonable; the only slight hitch is that a Portuguese lawyer must confirm the authenticity of documents: passport information page, proof of address, and proof of employment.

I welcome other readers of the thread to confirm this zero-margin exchange arrangement. Otherwise, once I get my account opened, I’ll see if I can perform a dry-run, or else exchange a token sum and see how it turns out.

My advisor at the bank also provided useful advice: they’re happy to receive money into my account from Singaporean gold vaults or Transferwise or the like, but they have to certify the source of the funds to SEF, and SEF may be hesitant if the money makes an exotic journey on the way to Portugal. To avoid administrative hassles, the recommended best practice is to transfer funds from a well known, full service, traditional financial institution in the home country.

1 Like

That makes sense, David. I’d thought the bank itself would be finicky, but it makes sense that SEF would be as well. Especially with the EU slandering those “money-laundering criminal” GV applicants… probably best to avoid any taint of that. :slight_smile:

WRT rates - I don’t think it sounds too good to be true, really. It’s what any bank with a currency desk can and will do for a customer it cares about. Your problem has simply been that your average US bank doesn’t resemble that in any way whatsoever - your average regional bank simply has no footprint in or experience with currencies, and your average large US bank is pretty much still out to gouge you. This is one reason I keep a relationship with HSBC - if you are at all a US person with overseas interests, HSBC really is your bank, however God-awful they are otherwise.

Bison is a bank with an international clientele; it’s going to have a currency desk and be used to shuffling between currencies. What they’re paying to exchange is trivial. Meanwhile, you’re a potential HNW customer who would be paying them a nice fat annual depository fee for doing…err, exactly nothing except sending you a statement once a year. The ideal client. Why take the risk of pissing you off?

(I’m sorry I didn’t suggest just asking the depository bank itself earlier… )

1 Like