What it is

Basic bank accounts (‘serviços mínimos bancários’) are a set of essential banking services which citizens can access at a reduced cost. They include the opening of a current account and the provision of the respective debit card.

Basic bank accounts must be provided by all credit institutions authorised to receive deposits from the public, i.e. banks, savings banks, the Central Mutual Agricultural Credit Bank and Mutual Agricultural Credit Banks, and that provide to the public the services included in basic bank accounts.

Access conditions

The basic bank account may have several holders, provided that they all comply with the requirements.

To open a basic bank account, the customer may not hold other current accounts.

However, there are some exceptions:

  • A natural person holding other current accounts may be co-holder of a basic bank account with a person over 65 years of age or with duly certified permanent disability of 60% or more who has no other accounts.

  • A natural person co-holding a basic bank account with a person over 65 years of age or with duly certified permanent disability of 60% or more can access a basic bank account, if he/she does not have other current accounts.

  • A customer who have been notified that their current account will be closed may request the opening of a basic bank account.

Customer must declare on the account opening forms, or in document attached to them, that:

  • He/she does not hold another current account, except in the case of co-ownership of a basic bank account with a natural person over 65 years of age or with duly certified permanent disability of 60% or more; or

  • He/she has been notified that his/her current account will be closed.

If they already hold a current account, customer can, at no cost:

  • Directly convert the current account into a basic bank account, if they want to keep the account in that credit institution; or

  • Close the account and open a basic bank account with another credit institution.

Account opening or conversion

Credit institutions should provide bank customers with a standardised information sheet (SIS) with the characteristics of the basic bank account.

The SIS should be provided to customers before opening or converting a current account into a basic bank account.

The documents used to open the basic bank account and convert the current account into the basic bank account should include the expression “basic bank account (serviços mínimos bancários)”:

  • A basic bank account is opened by completing and signing the forms for opening a current account. These documents are provided by credit institutions and contain the identification data of the holders, the characteristics of the account and the maintenance conditions. Once signed by both parties, they constitute the current account contract;

  • A current account is converted into a basic bank account, when there is no change in the credit institution, by introducing an amendment to the existing current account contract, signed by both parties.

Credit institutions may only refuse to open basic bank accounts if at least one of the following situations occurs:

  • The customer refuses to issue a document stating that he/she has been notified that his/her account will be closed or that he/she does not hold current accounts in his/her name, except in the case of co-ownership of a basic bank account with a natural person over 65 years of age or with duly certified permanent disability of 60% or more;

  • At the time of the request to open an account, the institution becomes aware that the customer holds one or more current accounts, except in the case of co-ownership of a basic bank account with a natural person over 65 years of age or with duly certified permanent disability of 60% or more.

Credit institutions may only refuse to convert an account into a basic bank account only if at least one of the following situations occurs:

  • The customer refuses to issue a document stating that has been notified that his/her account will be closed or that he/she does not hold current accounts in his/her name, other than the one he/she wishes to convert, except in the case of co-ownership of a basic bank account with a natural person over 65 years of age or with duly certified permanent disability of 60% or more;

  • At the date of the conversion request, the institution becomes aware that the customer holds other current accounts, in addition to the one that he/she intends to convert, except in the case of co-ownership of a basic bank account with a natural person over 65 years of age or with duly certified permanent disability of 60% or more.

The credit institution may not:

  • Refuse to open a basic bank account or convert an account into a basic bank account on the grounds that one of its holders holds other current accounts if one of the co-holders in question, in addition to being eligible to access the basic bank account, is at least 65 years old or with duly certified permanent disability of 60% or more;

  • Refuse to open a basic bank account or convert an account into a basic bank account on the grounds that its holder holds other basic bank account with a natural person over 65 years old or with duly certified permanent disability of 60% or more;

  • Condition the opening of the basic bank account to the deposit of a minimum amount or the acquisition of additional products or services.

Upon receipt of a full request for access to the basic bank account or conversion of an account into a basic bank account, the credit institution has a maximum period of 10 days to open or convert the account or to decline the request of access or conversion.

 

Services included

The basic bank account includes the following services:

  • Opening and maintaining of a current account – the basic bank account;

  • Providing a debit card to operate the account, which cannot have more restrictive characteristics than other debit cards made available outside the regime;

  • Access to the operation of the basic bank account through ATMs in the European Union, homebanking service and credit institution’s branches;

  • Execution of deposits, withdrawals, payments of goods and services and direct debits;

  • Execution of intra-bank transfers (i.e. transfers to accounts opened in the same credit institution), without restriction on the number of transactions that can be carried out;

  • Execution of interbank transfers (i.e. transfers to accounts opened in other institutions) through ATMs, without restrictions on the number of transactions that can be carried out, and homebanking, in which case there is a maximum, for each calendar year, of 24 national interbank transfers and in the European Union.

     

Cost

For the provision of basic bank accounts, credit institutions may not charge fees, expenses or other charges which, on a yearly basis and as a whole, account for more than 1% of the value of the social support index (IAS), i.e. 4.35 euros according to the value of IAS in 2019.

The fees for maintaining the basic bank account practiced by credit institutions are disclosed on this website, in the fees comparator (only in Portuguese).

Customers can also consult the information on the cost of basic bank accounts in the leaflet of fee and expenses of the credit institutions’ price list, available at their respective branches, on the websites of the credit institutions and on this website.

 

Other banking services

Customers holding a basic bank account may acquire other banking products or services not included in the basic bank account package, such as time deposits, savings accounts, interbank transfers carried out through the branches of credit institutions or through homebanking (in this case, only if they exceed the 24 transactions) or for accounts opened in institutions located outside the European Union, credit products, inter alia.

The contracted products or services that are not part of the basic bank account package are subject to the fees and expenses in force in the respective credit institution.

The balance of basic bank accounts may not be negative. Credit institutions may not make available overdraft facilities or tacitly allow the account to be moved beyond its balance (overrunning) to customers accessing basic bank accounts. The prohibition of credit overruns is not applicable to debit card transactions, in which case credit institutions may allow the movement of the basic bank accounts beyond their balance to make certain payments with the debit card (e.g. toll payments).

 

Termination

Credit institutions may immediately terminate a basic bank account if the customer:

  • has deliberately used the account for purposes contrary to the law; or

  • provided incorrect information to obtain the basic bank account, when he/she did not meet the respective access requirements.

Credit institutions may terminate a basic bank account, with effect 60 days after the closing notice, in the following situations:

  • The basic bank account has not been transacted (for debit or credit) for at least 24 consecutive months;

  • The customer ceased to be a legal resident in the European Union;

  • The customer is the holder of another current account with a credit institution in Portugal, which allows him/her to use the products and services included in the basic bank accounts.

In the account closing notice, made in paper or other durable medium, the credit institution must inform the holder of the basic bank account of:

  • The grounds for termination;

  • The possible requirement of payment of the charges usually associated with the provision of the services made available;

  • The complaint procedures and alternative dispute resolution procedures available to the customer, providing the necessary contact details.

Except in situations where the termination occurs because the customer has not transacted the account for at least 24 consecutive months, the credit institution may require the customer to pay the difference between the charges usually associated with the provision of the services rendered to the customer and the charges of the basic bank account.