Are you planning to drive around Portugal and explore its wonders? If so, be aware that there are some highways that you can only pay with a predetermined wireless payment system of your choice – these include a small number of roads (though one of them is A22, the main highway in Algarve). You do not want to be caught off guard because then you may end up being charged relatively hefty fees.There are several options you can choose from: Easytoll, Tollcard, Tollservice, or Temporary Via Verde Device. Briefly, Easytoll associates your vehicle plate with a credit card, Tollcard is a prepaid ticket service, Tollservice is a 20 euros prepaid ticket with unlimited use for 3 days, and Temporary Via Verde Device is a short-term subscription contract. Also note that “these products are only valid for roads with electronic-only tolls”. Click here for detailed information from the official website (in several languages: PT, EN, FR, ES).
More, there is a fifth option that is applicable only to vehicles with Portuguese plates (e.g. rental car): ATM payment. To use this last option you need to get an ATM reference number online from the post office website (CTT), 48 hours after you used the highway. Then you go to any ATM terminal and use the “other services” option in their menu to process the payment using the reference number for your toll bill. You can read more details by clicking here.
We recommend you consider the fees your credit card provider charges for international transactions when deciding which option is best for you (e.g. the prepaid option may end up having a lower total cost).
You can enroll on these services at the airport or at the road border. If renting a vehicle, make sure to ask your rent-a-car provider for details about how they can service you on this matter. Below is a picture of the enrollment booths at the Spanish border near Monte Gordo – note that usually there are assistants there to help you with this process.
Click here to download (pdf file) the map of Portuguese highways per payment type, as of March 2017.
Lastly, know that in Portugal any road with an A# (e.g. A1) is a paid highway. More, road quality can be usually assessed by their terminology, in the following order (best to worst): A#, IP#, IC#, N#.
Safe travels and have fun!