Car Hire in Portugal – EVERYTHING you need to know

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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If you are thinking of traveling to Portugal, renting a car is a great idea. Here we help you with everything you need to know about renting, and we even give you tips to get discounts. Check out!

When searching for car rental Portugal, many doubts arise in the minds of those who travel, don't they?

  • You may need to know the paperwork needed to rent a car;
  • Or don't know if it's better to close your car insurance with your credit card or rental company?
  • How to find out which is the best site to rent a car in Portugal?

There are so many questions that accumulate that it is impossible to discover everything on one site.

Did you identify yourself?

No problems. Therefore, we decided to research all the doubts that our readers have about car rental in Portugal to clarify one by one, in one place – here in this post.

So you don't have to go from site to site looking for answers. We have everything here! Including how to get good deals on car rental there.

In this complete guide, you will know everything about car rental Portugal. Come on?

Won't forget about travel insurance, huh?
Get the best discounted plans using the coupon FORTRAVELOVERS (5% off).

Click the link in the table of contents below to be directed to the topic:

  • Our car rental experience in Portugal
  • Is it worth renting a car in Portugal?
    • When is rent not worth it?
  • How to Rent a Car in Portugal
    • Best website to rent a car in Portugal
  • What you need to know BEFORE renting a car
    • Required Documentation
    • Do I need to buy car insurance?
    • Child safety seat rules
  • How to drive in Portugal
  • Troubleshooting on the Road
  • How to get good deals on Car Hire in Portugal

The experience of renting a car in Portugal

Having a rental car in Portugal is a great way to optimize your travel time and enjoy it more. That's because, with the vehicle, you can move more quickly from city to city, instead of waiting for public transport.

Over there, the roads are called expressways, and they are really fast. It is common to find minimum speed limit signs, and if you decide to go slower than allowed, you can even get a fine. Traffic is very easy to navigate, and lane conditions are excellent.

If you are planning your trip there and thinking about renting a car, you can bet on this idea. And, in addition to the ease of getting around there, you can get good discounts by comparing prices Rent Cars, the only rental company that charges in reais, without IOF and up to 12 installments.

To get to know several cities in Portugal, renting a car is ideal

Is it worth renting a car in Portugal?

Renting a car in Portugal is really worth it! Especially for those who want to know several cities in the country. As the territory is small (smaller than Pernambuco), it is common to rent a car in Lisbon or Porto, and go to discover other places.

>> Read our tips in the post Portugal tourist attractions – Top 20 to put in the script

It is also common to combine a trip to Portugal with a visit to other surrounding countries. It is very easy to do this European trip because of the Schengen Treaty, which allows free movement at the border. So, if you are going to Spain, France, or another nearby destination, it is very advantageous to rent a car.

We just remind you that, as in these trips to various destinations, the car pick-up takes place in one place, and the return in another, rentals may be subject to change, with an additional fee. So check before closing the lease.

When it's not worth it car rental in Portugal

Follow this scheme of making a Portugal itinerary through several cities is super advantageous with a car, which makes the time between trips reduced. But if your trip is going to be limited to just one city, it's not worth renting your own vehicle.

To visit the main tourist attractions, such as the Torre de Belém in the capital of Portugal, for example, it is worth taking other types of transport, such as public transport or even an Uber.

In the center there are paid parking lots, and to stop on the street there is a scheme of rotating spaces, with a fee (as is the Zona Azul in São Paulo, for example). But it's hard to find a place, just like in España itself. That's why the car isn't worth it inside the city.

In these cases of intra-urban tours, you can do everything on foot, or using public transport. ?

Within cities, it is worth betting on public transport, such as this Lisbon funicular

How to Rent a Car in Portugal

If you are wondering how to rent a car in Portugal, know that it is very easy. But, to help you, we give you the step-by-step here. In general, requirements for car rental in Portugal may vary depending on the rental company.

Some accept drivers over the age of 18, while others only accept drivers over 21 or 25. There are also rental companies that ask that the driver have more than one year of driving experience. There may even be a fee for younger drivers. But it all depends on the rental company you choose – it’s worth getting well informed before closing the deal.

Check out all the information on how to rent a car below:

  • What is the best site to rent a car in Portugal?
  • How to find the best price
  • How to get IOF discount and still pay in 12 installments

What is the best site to rent a car in Portugal?

The best place to rent a car in Portugal is through websites that make a price comparison among car rental companies. So you can compare different car models, what each offer includes, coverages, in addition to the prices offered by each company.

We always use and recommend the site RentCars. It is one of the best comparators on the market today for indicating only rental companies that are really reliable, such as Europcar, Avis, Sixt, Hertz, among other giants in the industry. In addition, it is the only comparator that you can spread in 12 installments and without IOF.

Cheap car hire in Portugal: How to find the best price

You have to be aware: Not always finding the best price means you'll pay cheaper in the end, lol. Okay, now you must be asking yourself: "How so?".

People explain. Websites often offer very low prices on car rentals. However, his insurance is not included.

Let's say you are going to pay R$600 for 10 days of car rental. However, when you arrive in Portugal, the rental company forces you to take out basic insurance against damage to the vehicle. This can greatly increase the final rental amount.

Believe it or not, but unfortunately this happens a lot with those who rent a car outside the country. So beware of very low car rental prices in Portugal, and always confirm the insurance issue in advance.

Try to find offers that already offer full insurance so there are no surprises later. And remember that insurance is important to avoid headaches, but beware of rental companies that want to sell an insurance service more expensive than what is necessary.

Combine a car with complete protection of the vehicle and third parties, with online payment without IOF and up to 12x. Click on the photo to check out RentCars!

How to get IOF discount and still pay in 12 installments

Car rental comparison sites in Portugal usually charge IOF (6,38% more on purchase) and do not give you the option to pay in installments. Therefore, the website RentCars ended up becoming our favorite option to find the best prices.

The site does not charge IOF (already guaranteeing almost 7% off) and allows payment in 12 installments. To top it off, you always pay in reais – and you don't have to pray for the exchange rate when closing the card. It is the only one today that gives these payment terms. It is worth it.

To find the best price, consult RentCars by clicking here.

Cars for rent in Portugal: Which model to choose?

There are several models of cars for rent in Portugal. You can choose from categories that meet different needs: compact, intermediate, full-size, economy, standard, SUV, premium, special, luxury, minivan, convertible and vans.

To choose the best model, it all depends on the style of your trip. If you're with your family, it's worth opting for cars like an SUV. Couples can save with a compact or opt for a nice sporty one. Groups of friends can even rent vans.

However, it is always good to remember: if your trip also has a focus on shopping, it is interesting to opt for a model with more space in the trunk.

There are several models for car rental in Portugal

What you need to know BEFORE renting a car

Check out all the information you need to know BEFORE renting a car.

  • Required Documentation
  • What is the deposit amount on car rental?
  • Is it worth taking out car insurance in Portugal?
  • Types of car rental insurance
  • Rent at the airport or in the city?
  • Returning the Car in Another City
  • Care when renting a car
  • Car GPS in Portugal
  • Is a child car seat mandatory in Portugal?
  • Is it worth buying a car seat instead of renting it?

Required Documentation

An international driver's license is not required to rent a car in Portugal. Only a valid Brazilian CNH is enough for you to drive in the country for up to 180 days.

We made a checklist for you to write down and not forget anything when renting a car there:

  • Valid Brazilian CNH (driver's license);
  • Passport;
  • International credit card (for security deposit);
  • Proof of car reservation.

#DicaImportant: Notify your bank that you are going to travel! As the car is one of the first things you come across when you arrive in Portugal, your card may not pass if you forget to make the travel notice. Notify your manager or travel through your bank's Internet Banking.

What is the deposit amount on car rental?

The security deposit is a value that the rental companies “block” on the credit card when picking up the car when arriving in Portugal. This value is blocked only by “precaution”. In this way, the rental company is prevented from any theft, unpaid accident or any other expense that the lessee decides not to pay.

Generally, the deposit amount is a little scary, although it varies according to the category, duration of car rental Portugal and type of car. However, there is no need to worry. They will not charge you anything if everything goes smoothly during the rental.

Therefore, it is always important to ensure that your car is insured so that there are no unforeseen circumstances during the trip.

Is it worth taking out Portugal car insurance?

Car insurance in Portugal is, yes, a necessary expense. We never know what might happen along the way. A tap in the parking lot, an accident or even theft of the car.

Although Portugal is a very safe country, it is always important to prevent yourself. Even more so because it can happen that the car gets a scratch or something. So, hiring insurance is essential to avoid inconvenience with the rental company.

However, there are two ways to purchase car insurance Portugal:

  1. With Credit Card
  2. Direct with the Lessor

Credit Card Car Insurance

Generally, cards with Platinum, Black and other premium brands offer automatic coverage for the vehicle, if the purchase is made through it. So, you don't have to pay extra for car insurance.

However, you have to remember: credit card car insurance only covers damage to the vehicle! Third party damage is not covered by credit card insurance.

Therefore, even when purchasing car insurance through the card, the rental company will try to sell you the coverage to third parties. It's up to you whether you want to take a chance without her or not.

Direct Car Insurance with the Rental Company

In the case of purchasing car insurance directly from the rental company, then you will need to pay a little more. Especially if you decide to hire at the counter, when picking up the car. Generally, rental companies charge close to the value of the car rental itself. That is, it doubles the amount you were expecting to pay.

Therefore, our tip is to try to find through the RentCars cars that already come with full coverage for damage to the vehicle and third parties. In addition, you already pay in real, here in España, so you don't fall for any prank from the rental companies. To complete, you can also spread up to 12 x and not pay IOF.

To find fully insured cars, enter RentCars by clicking here.

Types of car rental insurance

What often confuses us are the types of car rental insurance. What is the difference in LDW or PAI coverage, among other things. To explain it better, we did a detailed research on what each type of coverage offered by rental companies and credit card means:

CDW and LDW are common terms used in car rental insurance jargon. In the end, they refer to the same thing – loss or damage to your rental car.

CDW insurance

It is short for Collision Damage Waiver – This provides coverage in the event of a collision or damage to the vehicle.

LDW insurance

This is short for Loss Damage Waiver – This provides coverage in the event of theft or total loss of the vehicle.

ALI Insurance

Additional Liability Insurance means that if you are involved in an accident with your rental car, you (the driver) are insured against bodily injury and property damage to third parties up to a certain monetary amount.

PAI insurance

Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) provides coverage in the event of accidental death and covers emergency medical expenses for the renter and all passengers in the car. The amount of coverage varies according to the rental company.

PEP insurance

It also concerns passenger coverage. Personal Accident Insurance covers the renter and passengers in the event of an accident during the rental as a driver or passenger. It covers accidental death, some medical expenses, assistance and rescue.

Rent at the airport or in the city?

A good tip is to compare car rental in Portugal by picking up/dropping off at the airport or in the city center. Often, prices are more attractive if you want to pick up the car at a rental company far from the airport. But first, it's worth doing the math to see if the difference is worth it.

To compare, check the Uber app or see the price of transfers from Lisbon airport, for example, to the location of the rental company. Don't forget to calculate the fares for the round trip, if you return the car at the same place. If the financial difference is still advantageous, it is worth renting a car in the city center.

However, if your focus is convenience, don't think twice: choose to pick up the car at the airport.

Returning the Car in Another City

Taking the car and driving to another city is a super common practice for those who rent a car in Portugal. If you are going to do a roadtrip through the main cities of the country (something highly recommended), you will probably choose to return the car in another location.

However, it is important to know that some rental companies do not allow you to return the car in another country. So, if you are planning a combined trip to Spain, or even France or other nearby European countries, check with the rental company how you are going to return the vehicle.

>> See also our Portugal Tour guide to set up your trip through the Portuguese country

It is possible to rent a car in Portugal and return it in Spain, for example

care to rent a car in Portugal

Who warns friend is: renting a car in Portugal may seem very easy, but it can involve pranks. So, if you already know before, you won't fall for them when picking up the car at the rental counter.

You can lock a car here for a great price, but then you arrive at the counter and they will want to charge you an extra amount per day for an additional driver, for travel insurance or even warn you that you have a limit of km to use during the trip.

So, before closing your car rental in Portugal, make sure your car includes the following:

  • unlimited mileage
  • Travel Insurance for Vehicle and Third Parties
  • Define how many drivers will drive the car and see if it is worth paying the extra for an additional driver.

Another important tip: Often, when you arrive at the counter, the rental company will not have the car of the category you chose on the website. So they usually give you a car upgrade when you get there.

However, we have been through situations where the employee kept insisting that we pay for the upgrade BEFORE saying that the car in our category was finished. Denying the upgrade, the employee said that she would give her a better car anyway. Stay tuned and don't accept to pay more for upgrades right away! See first what they will offer you within what you have already paid.

Car GPS in Portugal:

Let's tell you something: it's not worth hiring the GPS in Portugal. You would pay an extra amount per day to have the GPS, that is, your trip would be considerably more expensive on account of it.

To replace GPS, there are several more economical – and effective – ways to get around the cities of Portugal.

Learn to download maps offline

First, if you take a car in categories above economy, your car will probably already come with an integrated GPS.

If you want to save money, a good tip is to download the map of the city that you go offline on your cell phone. Look how to download offline map in google maps app in this post here. However, if you visit more than one city, take roads or even need to know the traffic information, this is not the best solution.

Find out how to get unlimited internet while traveling

In this case, to stay connected and go with peace of mind to more than one city, the best option is to buy a international chip for your cell phone. This is our favorite option, which we always choose on every trip.

In addition to having GPS, you have unlimited calls, access to WhatsApp, unlimited 4G and much more. You buy the cell phone chip, receive it at your house here in España, and insert it when you are on the plane. When you get there, you can use your cell phone normally, like here in España. The price is also much better than buying a car GPS.

Buy your international chip right now through America Chip.

Get unlimited SIM connection America Chip – click on the photo to secure yours

Is a child car seat mandatory in Portugal?

The car seat is mandatory in Portugal for children up to 12 years old, or smaller than 1,35 m. Car rental companies offer car seat rental when you pick up the car at the counter.

For every age, there is a more ideal type of car seat. Older children only need those adapter seats, which allow them to sit at the ideal height to fit the seat belt.

In addition, they must always be transported in the back seats, unless under special conditions – such as not having a seat belt in the back seat, for example. If the rule is violated, a fine is imposed.

Is it worth buying a car seat instead of renting it?

We didn't find this option practical. Even because, you need to leave the airport or rental company with the child in the car seat. So, for you to buy the car seat in another store, you would need to do the following:

Rent a car seat from the rental company for a day, go out to buy another car seat and return to return the car seat you borrowed to the rental company.

This idea is only worthwhile for those who really want to buy a car seat for children in Portugal to bring to España. If not, it is even better to rent the car seat from the rental company and enjoy your vacation time.

How to drive in Portugal

Check out all the information you need to know about driving in Portugal:

  • Traffic rules in Portugal to be aware of
  • How parking in Portugal works and prices
  • Fueling in Portugal
  • What is the price of Gasoline in Portugal?
  • How toll works in Portugal

It's like they say: if you're from São Paulo or any big Brazilian city, you're prepared to drive anywhere in the world, lol! Jokes aside, if you're wondering how to drive in Portugal, know that it's super easy.

The roads are excellent, without potholes, well signposted and have wide lanes for cars. Some cities have traffic, but it is very easy to get around there.

Traffic rules in Portugal to be aware of:

There are some traffic rules in Portugal different from Spain. Therefore, after making your car rental Portugal, it is good to be aware to avoid honking the horn or even an accident.

Minimum and maximum speed

In Portugal there are signs indicating the maximum speed allowed, but also the minimum speed, especially on the country's expressways. So if a car is too slow on the road, it will likely be fined. Stay tuned!

Another interesting point is that the limits are quite high. Thus, the traffic there runs quite fast, another point that requires a lot of attention.

Signs indicating permitted speed limits

Right hand traffic

In Portugal, drivers obey the rule to leave the left free. Most of the time, everyone walks only in the right lane, using the other side only to overtake, but soon returning.

It is a good practice, which makes the traffic more fluid and faster. And even in the right lanes, drivers often have a pretty heavy foot on the accelerator. LOL

the road types

In Portugal there are two types of roads: express and urban roads. In the case of fast, there is a toll collection and the speed limits are higher. Thus, the journey is faster, and the condition of the roads is better.

The roads that cut through the cities also link the country from north to south, with the advantage of not having toll charges. But walking through them makes the trip more time consuming, as the maximum speed allowed is very low and the track conditions are not the best. On the other hand, it's a chance to get to know more cities along the way.

Go to the bathroom before driving

As there are few gas stations along Portuguese roads, it is not very common to find toilets available along the way either. So, it's worth the tip: go to the bathroom before hitting the road!

If you're stuck between cities, it can take a good few minutes before you can go to the toilet again. Or even: if the situation is more urgent (lol), you will have to deviate from the route and enter some city along the way, delaying the itinerary, for example… better to travel with an empty bladder!

How do the car parks in Portugal and prices

Parking lots in Portugal vary according to the city visited, but in general they are very similar to those in España. For parking spaces on the street, for example, it is possible to stop the car by paying the famous “parking meter” – very similar to the “blue zone”, in São Paulo.

Another option is the private parking lots, which are scattered throughout the cities. It is easy to find them, but a good tip is to leave your car to travel from one city to another, and within them, walk or use other means. Is it often better to take an Uber or bus than to pay for parking?

Finding a vacancy in the center of Porto is a complicated task, lol

Fueling in Portugal

Looking forward to filling up your own car after booking your car rental in Portugal? There's always that doubt about how to fill up the car in Portuguese territory. Even for those who have been several times.

Here's a good tip, which helps to save a lot. When choosing your car, opt for a diesel model (diesel in Portuguese from Portugal, stay tuned). This type of fuel is very common in vehicles there, as well as being much cheaper and more economical. You can run more, spending less – very good, right?

Oh, and pay attention on the roads, because the pumps (as the stations are called) are very far from each other. Therefore, always try to keep the tank full.

Filling up the car in Portugal works like this:

There, as in the United States, gas station attendants are rare to perform this service. So the supply takes place in the same American self-service scheme.

To be able to fill the tank, you go to the convenience store and ask for the desired amount. Payment is already made right there, and the employee will release the fuel. Then, just go to the pump and you fill up the car yourself. It's very simple, but if you have any problems, just ask someone at the store for help.

Gasoline in Portugal: how much does it cost?

Portugal's gasoline is considered one of the most expensive in the European Union. The liter, at the 2019 quotation, is costing around 1,50 euros. Diesel (or diesel) is a little cheaper, at a cost of 1,35 euros.

As these values ​​are quite volatile, it is always worth checking the Global Petrol Prices website.

How is the toll in Portugal

In Portugal there is a kind of “Sem Parar”, which is Via Verde. This little device is attached to the windshield, and can be rented along with the vehicle itself. Its function is to pay the toll automatically, making the process of walking on the highways simpler and faster.

You can choose not to use Via Verde in the car, but in this case, you will need to go to the country's post office to pay the tolls. This process is tedious, and can take a few days to complete, which can even disrupt your travel time. Therefore, we recommend using the device and avoiding any inconvenience. #ficadica

Most tolls in Portugal do not have attendants. The control is done by cameras that monitor the roads, and that is why Via Verde helps a lot in this process. And, over there, they are not called tolls – but tolls, so you can get familiar with them. ?

The values ​​are very low and vary, with an average price of 60 euro cents at each toll. Only the passage between countries is more salty, and can exceed 15 euros.

Trouble on the Road

It happens to even the best travelers: the tire is flat, the car is towed, you get a ticket. After all, how to deal with these unforeseen circumstances during car rental in Portugal?

Check out how to troubleshoot on the road below:

  • Traffic fine in Portugal
  • My car is being towed, now what?
  • How to apply for Car Insurance

Traffic fine in Portugal

If you get a traffic ticket in Portugal, it is likely that the amount will be charged to the credit card you used to rent the car. In some cases, this amount ends up not even being discounted.

However, it is always good to be super attentive and avoid any kind of fine. Because if Spain is already expensive, nobody deserves to be fined in euros, right?

My car is being towed, now what?

This has already happened to us. When you see that your car is being towed in Portugal, it hits that despair. What to do?

The first thing is: be careful. As? Get everything out of your car, always, lol! Including the car rental agreement, which contains all the necessary telephone numbers and information in case of mishap. Leave it in a place you won't miss it.

Another way to prevent this is obviously to see if parking is allowed in the area. If it's poorly explained, ask someone.

If your car is towed, you need to get it out of the parking lot where the cars are parked. To find out where he is, call your rental company and they will give you all the information.

How to apply for Car Insurance

If you are involved in any accident, always have your car insurance company's phone number handy.

If you paid by credit card, leave the policy number saved in your email, along with the emergency phone number. If you did it directly with the rental company, also keep the pamphlet with the information.

You will need to call car insurance in case of any mishap. Calls can be made to collect.

We also advise you to buy the international cell phone chip, which breaks the biggest hoops in situations like this. That's because it offers unlimited calls and 4G. It is worth the small investment to have comfort during the trip.

> Learn which is the best internet chip for Europe here. (opens in a new tab)”>>> Learn which is the best internet chip for Europe here.

> Learn more about America Chip's international travel chip here. (opens in a new tab)”>>> Learn more about America Chip's international travel chip here.

Stay connected throughout your trip!
Internet is essential to travel more peacefully! Buy your international travel chip here in España and arrive in Portugal using America Chip.

How to get good prices on Car hire in Portugal

We really like Rent Cars to find the cars we use on our travels. It is the only one in Spain that compares the best rental companies in the world, but lets you pay in reais, without IOF. In addition, it is also the only one that lets you pay in 12x. It is worth it!

#Here's a tip: Try to find cars with full car and third party insurance coverage. Thus, you avoid inopportune surprises when picking up the car.

Also, be very smart when closing with other car rental comparisons. That's because prices are usually charged in dollars and close with your card. If the dollar goes up, the price of your car rental goes up too.

The only site that lets you pay in up to 12 installments, without IOF and in reais. Click here and check out the Rent Cars options!

Airbnb em Portugal

See the best options for vacation home rentals and superhosts in Airbnb in Portugal.

Read more:

  • Cell Phone Chip in Portugal – Where to Buy?
  • Portugal Tour – 13 Places You Need to Know
  • Is Portugal Travel Insurance mandatory? Learn Everything Here – 2019
  • Where to stay in Lisbon – From cheap to luxury in the best neighborhoods
  • Where to stay in Porto, Portugal – Best neighborhoods and Hotels
  • Travel to Portugal – The COMPLETE guide for Brazilians
  • Is America Chip Good? – What I Need to Know Before Buying

Plan your trip:

Get started now by booking your hotel in Portugal through

Use our FORTRAVELOVERS coupon and guarantee 5% off your travel insurance at Seguros Promo

Want to find cheap tickets? Find flights with discounts of up to 35% on Promo Tickets

Rent your car at Rentcars! Installment up to 12X, paying in reais and without IOF!

Also don't forget your international mobile phone chip and leave España with unlimited 4G internet

Skip the lines for attractions, buy your tickets on GetYourGuide here
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