In March 2022, I decided to go on a trip again.
In March 2021, when I returned from Taiwan after a year, I felt like going out again because I had been at home for a year.
And travel restrictions were being lifted left and right.
So, what is the best way to catch up on a year of lost travel time?
Visit as many countries as you can within a month.
Intense? Yes – I was exhausted for weeks… but it was worth it.
If this is your first Phone Travel Wiz review – welcome.
I buy and test all/most SIM cards in a country and tell you which ones are the best so that you do not have to 😎.
MEO Portugal is the largest mobile operator in the country.
But does that mean it is the best?
Well, if you read the title of this review, I already gave you the answer to that question 🤪.
But why is that? And how did I find out?
And that is what I did – and I will share my experience in this review.
Let's get started, shall we?
Original publication: 19th of August 2022. Last updated: 20th of October 2022.
Table of Contents
Who is MEO Portugal?
MEO (Portugal) is not a name you have heard of if you have already purchased SIM cards in other countries.
That is because the MEO brand is used only in Portugal.
it is currently the largest mobile operator in the country.
And as you know, being the largest does not necessarily mean that a mobile operator is also the best.
However, MEO was the first mobile operator to launch a prepaid service worldwide in 1996.
So that is something cool for it to brag about.
In Portugal, you have three mobile operators:
- MEO Portugal (by Altice Portugal)
- NOS Portugal
- Vodafone Portugal
You also have many Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), like Lycamobile Portugal, but they are honestly not worth your time.
Let's talk about MEO Portugal's coverage first, after these quick frequency details:
- 2G: 900 MHz
- 3G: 2100 MHz
- 4G/LTE: 800 MHz (Band 20), 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2100 MHz (Band 1) & 2600 MHz (Band 7)
- 5G NR: 3600 MHz (n78) 1
- VoLTE: Yes
- VoWiFi: No
1 Currently, MEO lets anyone test out 5G NR for free until
the end of March (2022) ( extended to the 15th of September October 2022) before charging you for it ( how much is unknown – and perhaps they will extend this offer 5 EUR/month). October 2022 update: MEO decided not to charge for 5G NR access, unlike previously promised. However, all MEO prepaid plans are restricted to 40 Mbps (unlike the maximum speed during the trial).
Here you have MEO Portugal's APN settings:
- Name: Internet MEO
- APN: meo
Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.
MEO Portugal Coverage + My Experience
You can have a mobile operator providing you 1 Gbps download speeds.
But it will be useless if it covers only one street in Portugal.
So, how is MEO Portugal's coverage?
Regarding 4G/LTE availability, MEO Portugal has the worst availability, with an availability score of 95.6%. Behind NOS Portugal (96.4%) and Vodafone Portugal (97.8%).
But an availability percentage of 95% is still impressive.
When looking at 5G NR, MEO Portugal is also losing the 5G NR availability race (8.7%), behind Vodafone Portugal (10.3%) and NOS Portugal (20.9%).
So far, I have been talking about coverage from other reports, but what was my coverage experience with MEO Portugal?
It was excellent, honestly – I had nothing to complain about.
I do not recall having many reception blackspots – except for once at a confectionery called Bem Bom Grupo Boca Doce.
For some reason, I could not get connected with MEO Portugal (and the Nomad Europe eSIM that uses the MEO Portugal network), while I had no issues with NOS Portugal, Vodafone Portugal, Lycamobile Portugal, Airalo (Eurolink eSIM) & SimCorner (O2 Europe travel SIM card).
So that was odd 🤔.
Below, you have the coverage maps of MEO Portugal in continental Portugal (left) and in the Azores and Madeira (right):
How to Get a MEO Portugal SIM Card & Prices
Now that you have a basic understanding of MEO Portugal and the telecom market in Portugal, it is now time to talk about how to actually get a MEO Portugal SIM card.
Well, it is not that I discourage it either – it is just not required.
That is because Portugal does not have a SIM card registration scheme, unlike most European countries.
- Find out which countries have SIM card registration regulations and what is required from you (lookup tool)
That means you can pick up a SIM card from a reseller, like Continente, Spar & Worten, and it will be good to go without having to show your passport in person or register it online.
I did get my MEO Portugal SIM card in a(n) MEO store, but you do not have to.
I got my SIM card at ViaCatarina shopping center in Porto.
But if you are not visiting Porto, you can use this store locator to find the nearest MEO Portugal store.
By the way, MEO Portugal SIM cards are not sold at Lisbon-Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) or Porto-Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO).
Moreover, MEO Portugal does not have tourist SIM cards (but it does have a tourist eSIM – more about that later).
I got inside the MEO Portugal store and asked the salesperson for a prepaid SIM card.
It was dark outside already, and only another customer was inside, so the staff seemed happy to help someone out/do something.
I knew the MEO Portugal prepaid starter pack prices before going to Portugal, so I asked for a Cartão M Móvel Pré-Pago (in broken Portuguese of course), costing 10 EUR.
I will list all the prices in EUR (Euro).
To convert EUR to your currency (let's say GBP – (British) Pound (Sterling)) with up-to-date exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.
This starter pack gives you 5 GB of data and 1000 local minutes/SMS for 30 days.
Disclaimer: the SIM card prices mentioned in the review were current when I was in Portugal – the offering and prices may have changed since then. To see MEO Portugal's current starter packs, check out my Portugal SIM card buying guide
The salesperson will ask if you are interested in topping up too, so that the free 10 GB for social messaging (Facetime, Google Hangout, iMessage, Skype, Viber & WhatsApp) gets enabled.
As I only stayed in Porto for a few days and knowing I certainly do not use that much data for WhatsApp (I do not use any of the other apps), I declined and went for the starter pack only.
You also have a total of four MEO Portugal starter packs, which I will show in the table below:
|Price||SIM Card||Credit||Data||Local Minutes||Local SMS||Validity|
|2.50 EUR||Cartão M Móvel Pré-Pago Livre||2.50 EUR||N/A||N/A||N/A||30 days|
|9.99 EUR||Cartão M Móvel Pré-Pago||N/A||5 GB||1000 minutes||Shared with call allowance||30 days|
|14.99 EUR||Cartão Enjoy Todo o Tráfego Incluído €14.99||N/A||Unlimited 1||N/A||N/A||15 days|
|30 EUR||Cartão Enjoy Todo o Tráfego Incluído €30||N/A||Unlimited 1||N/A||N/A||30 days|
The staff member did ask for my name, but that was for invoicing purposes only (remember, SIM card registration is not mandatory in Portugal).
After asking him for a few Porto recommendations, he handed me my SIM card, and I was off to go.
MEO Portugal also has two eSIMs: a regular one and one for travelers like you and me.
The regular MEO Portugal eSIM is available for the same price as a regular SIM card (but not the data-only SIM cards), so 2.50 EUR and 9.99 EUR.
These eSIMs are only available in MEO Portugal stores – they are not sold by resellers.
Remember when I mentioned earlier that MEO Portugal does not have tourist SIM cards but does have a tourist eSIM?
Introducing the MEO Portugal Ready to Enjoy Portugal eSIM.
This eSIM is sold on the Airalo store, the largest eSIM store out there, with 30 GB of data (with 5G NR access) valid for 15 days for 19 USD, allowing you to install it on your phone before heading to Portugal and activate as soon as you land.
I have been working with Airalo for literal years (even during COVID times when barely anyone traveled), and the MEO Portugal Ready to Enjoy Portugal eSIM is in the top 10 loved Airalo eSIMs.
Yes, in the top ten of 180+ countries and more than 500 eSIM variants on the Airalo store – Phone Travel Wiz readers love this eSIM.
When I was in Porto, I did not try this eSIM – I was using the Eurolink eSIM instead (which can be used in 39 European countries) and the Nomad Europe eSIM, but the feedback I have received about the MEO Portugal Ready to Enjoy Portugal eSIM is crazy (in a good way).
Even those who do not have a 5G NR-enabled phone do not mind getting this eSIM because the data allowance is generous and (much) cheaper than any MEO Portugal data-featured prepaid plan (or its competitors).
Yes, you also have the Fofo Mobil eSIM on 4G/LTE only, but the largest variant give you 10 GB of data for 17 USD on the NOS Portugal network instead. For 2 USD more, you get 30 GB of data (only for 15 days instead of 30 days.
So while I personally cannot recommend the MEO Portugal Ready to Enjoy Portugal eSIM, more than 100 Phone Travel Wiz readers can!
They worked well (and were cheaper than Portuguese SIM cards when taking SIM card prices and plans into account).
Anyway, I compare the best Portugal travel eSIMs in my comparison guide and drop a few discount codes for you 😏.
MEO Portugal Plans, Bundles & Offers
MEO Portugal has four data-featured prepaid plans:
- M Móvel Plans (combo)
- +Internet Plans
- Mobile Broadband Plans (data for data-only SIM card)
- +Social Net Add-Ons
All MEO plans can be activated online.
Disclaimer: these were the available plans at the time I was in Portugal – the offering may have changed since then (including whether 5G NR is available to prepaid customers or not). To see MEO Portugal's current plans, check out my Portugal SIM card buying guide (which gets updated regularly – at least once a year).
I will list all the prices in EUR (Euro).
To convert EUR to your currency (let's say GBP – (British) Pound (Sterling)) with up-to-date exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.
M Móvel Plans
The M Móvel Plans plans are combo plans with data (with 5G NR access @ max. 40 Mbps (as of the 16th of October)), minutes & SMS.
Note that the call and SMS allowances are shared, meaning that you can call/send up to 500 minutes or SMS or 1000 minutes or SMS.
The following M Móvel Plans are available:
|Price||Data||Social Data 2||Local/EU Minutes/SMS 1||Validity|
|3 EUR||200 MB||N/A||500 minutes/SMS||7 days|
|3.50 EUR||200 MB||N/A||1000 minutes/SMS||7 days|
|3.50 EUR||1 GB||N/A||500 minutes/SMS||7 days|
|4 EUR||1 GB||N/A||1000 minutes/SMS||7 days|
|4.25 EUR||3 GB||10 GB||500 minutes/SMS||7 days|
|4.75 EUR||3 GB||10 GB||1000 minutes/SMS||7 days|
|5 EUR||5 GB||10 GB||500 minutes/SMS||7 days|
|5.50 EUR||5 GB||10 GB||1000 minutes/SMS||7 days|
1 for calls/SMS within and to other EU/EEA member states and back to Portugal (NOT from Portugal to other EU/EEA member states)
2 for Facetime, Google Hangout, iMessage, Skype, Viber & WhatsApp
The +Internet Plans are, as the name implies, data bundles (with 5G NR access @ max. 40 Mbps (as of the 16th of October)).
The following +Internet Plans are available:
|3.99 EUR||0.25 GB||1 month|
|6.99 EUR||0.5 GB||1 month|
|9.99 EUR||1 GB||1 month|
|14.99 EUR||5 GB||1 month|
Mobile Broadband Plans
The Mobile Broadband Plans are data bundles (with 5G NR access @ max. 40 Mbps (as of the 16th of October)) for the Cartão Enjoy Todo o Tráfego Incluído SIM card (data-only SIM card).
Note that Mobile Broadband Plans are for local use only – you cannot roam for free in the EU/EEA with these bundles.
|15 EUR||Unlimited||15 days|
|20 EUR||Unlimited||20 days|
|30 EUR||Unlimited||30 days|
|35 EUR||Unlimited||35 days|
|40 EUR||Unlimited||40 days|
|45 EUR||Unlimited||45 days|
|50 EUR||Unlimited||50 days|
|55 EUR||Unlimited||55 days|
|60 EUR||Unlimited||60 days|
|65 EUR||Unlimited||65 days|
|70 EUR||Unlimited||70 days|
|75 EUR||Unlimited||75 days|
|80 EUR||Unlimited||80 days|
|85 EUR||Unlimited||85 days|
|90 EUR||Unlimited||90 days|
|95 EUR||Unlimited||95 days|
The +Social Net Add-Ons are, as the name suggests, data add-ons for select social media apps and other apps, including music and video streaming.
The +Social Net Add-Ons are available:
|4.99 EUR||+ Smart Net Messaging||10 GB||Various 1||1 month|
|4.99 EUR||+ Smart Net Music||10 GB||Various 2||1 month|
|4.99 EUR||+ Smart Net Social||10 GB||Various 3||1 month|
|6.99 EUR||+ Smart Net Video||20 GB||Various 4||1 month|
1 for Discord, Facetime, Google Hangouts, iMessage, Kakao Talk, Line, Skype, Tango, Telegram, Viber, WeChat & WhatsApp
2 for Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, Napster, Spotify, SoundCloud, TIDAL, TuneIn & YouTube Music
3 for Badoo, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, TikTok, Tumblr & Twitter
4 for Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO (Portugal), Netflix, Periscope, Twitch, Vimeo & YouTube
You can use your MEO Portugal allowances in the following EU/EEA member states without paying roaming fees:
- Czech Republic
- French Guiana
- Saint Barthélemy
- Saint Martin
- United Kingdom
As MEO Portugal does not have dedicated EU/EEA roaming allowances, you can use your full allowance without restrictions in other EU/EEA member states.
Note that the Broadband Plans are for local use only.
MEO Portugal Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check
I did not have to recharge my MEO Portugal SIM card because Portugal was a short stop on my one-month Europe trip.
But I will still let you know about topping up your MEO Portugal SIM card.
The following (online) MEO Portugal top-ups are available:
|15 EUR||15 days|
|20 EUR||20 days|
|30 EUR||30 days|
To top up your MEO Portugal SIM card, tell the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.
Note that you will be charged 0.80 EUR for this service – even in MEO stores.
This fee will be deducted from your top-up (a 10 EUR recharge will leave you with 9.20 EUR).
You can also recharge online with (international/EU) debit and credit cards without being charged 0.80 EUR/top-up.
Dial *#123# to check your MEO balance.
MEO Portugal Speed Test Results (in Porto)
Alright, now it is time to talk about the speeds you can expect with MEO Portugal after covering all the other essential topics like coverage.
But before I share my 12 speed test results from Porto, I do want to set the stage first and make a small comparison with MEO Portugal's competition.
MEO Portugal is regarded by Speedtest as the second-fastest mobile operator in Portugal in Q3-Q4 of 2021.
With a median download speed of 41.91 Mbps, ahead of Vodafone Portugal (36.99 Mbps) but behind NOS Portugal (47.09 Mbps).
When we look at 5G NR, MEO Portugal is also the second-fastest, with a median download speed of 330.36 Mbps.
This is far ahead of Vodafone Portugal (203.37 Mbps) but slightly behind NOS Portugal (362.84 Mbps).
Back when I was in Portugal, 5G NR was just rolled out in the country a few weeks before I arrived.
As a result, 5G NR was mainly restricted to Lisbon and somewhat in Porto.
Unlike MEO Portugal's competitors, 5G NR was widely available in Porto, resulting in me having fantastic speeds throughout the city.
I did 12 speed tests with the Speedtest app at various locations throughout Porto.
Here are the results:
Those speeds are pretty fast – even for 5G NR.
Although these speeds are a bit slower for 5G NR, the technology was only activated a few weeks before I arrived, so I expect you to experience even faster speeds than I did.
As you can see, some of the results are in red, green, or underlined.
Underlined results are on 5G NR, basically all my results.
The results in green represent that that result was the fastest download or upload speed of all the Portuguese mobile operators (MEO Portugal, NOS Portugal, Vodafone Portugal & Lycamobile Portugal).
The results in red are the opposite; they are the slowest of them all.
And the results in bold tell you the mobile operator was the fastest with all the SIM cards and eSIMs I tested in Portugal (so the four SIM cards, the SimCorner Europe travel SIM card, Airalo Europe Eurolink eSIM & Nomad Europe eSIM).
As you can see, MEO Portugal performed exceptionally well.
Well… NOS Portugal only offered 5G NR on its most expensive plans (and I used the data from the starter pack allowances without 5G NR).
Vodafone Portugal barely had 5G NR coverage in Porto, but I bought the data-only SIM card, which throttles speeds to 50 Mbps download.
And I knew about this limitation – I just forgot about it when I bought the SIM card 🥲.
And Lycamobile Portugal, a Vodafone Portugal MVNO, had wide swings in terms of speeds.
So yeah, MEO Portugal's competition was slacking.
Anyway, let's deal with some MEO Portugal statistics based on the 12 speed test results:
- MEO Portugal's average download speed was 225.26 Mbps
- The median download speed with MEO Portugal was 195.57 Mbps
- MEO Portugal's average upload speed was 23.74 Mbps
- The median upload speed with MEO Portugal was 15.14 Mbps
- MEO Portugal had the fastest download speed, compared to its competitors, in 7 of the 12 locations
- MEO Portugal had the slowest download speed, compared to its competitors, in 2 of the 12 locations (including a test location where I had no reception)
- At 1 of the 12 locations, MEO Portugal had the fastest upload speed
- At 2 of the 12 locations, MEO Portugal had the slowest upload speed (including a test location where I had no reception)
While MEO Portugal has fast download speeds, its upload speeds are on the slow(er) end.
But does that matter? Yes, it does – and let me explain why download- and upload speeds matter.
A download speed of more than 25 Mbps is enough to video stream content @ 4k resolution.
And I got an average download speed of 225.26 Mbps.
Social media sites that allow for live streaming, like Facebook Live, recommend an upload speed of at least 10 Mbps.
And I got an average upload speed of 23.74 Mbps – double the recommended upload speed.
So, in short, these speed test results would be more than enough for watching videos at a high resolution and for uploading content like live streams.
But let's take these results to a global level – MEO Portugal is exceptional.
At the time of writing, the global average download speed is 75.78 Mbps – MEO Portugal is far above this average (triple).
But the average is skewed because of countries like the United Arab Emirates, with an average mobile download speed of 260.72 Mbps (insane!).
So let's look at the global median – 30.78 Mbps. MEO Portugal's median download speed was 195.57 Mbps.
MEO Portugal is doing waaaaay than the global mean, which is great!
Then again, many countries have yet to roll out 5G NR… but that is why we looked at the median too instead of only the average.
Overall, you should have a smooth network experience with MEO Portugal, especially on 5G NR.
One of the travel eSIMs I used, Nomad Europe, used the MEO Portugal network on 4G/LTE only.
So let's compare MEO Portugal and Nomad Europe to see what you can expect with 4G/LTE:
In the playlist below, you can see all the speed test results faster than 50 Mbps I got in Portugal with all the SIM cards and eSIMs I tested there:
And remember, with a travel eSIM, you do not get 100% of the speed of the roaming partner because you are roaming.
But with an average download speed of 70 Mbps, you can expect the same, if not more, with MEO Portugal on 4G/LTE.
MEO Portugal is like Speedy Gonzales 🐁💨.
My Overall Experience with MEO Portugal – Is It Any Good?
I would recommend MEO Portugal, and it is my top recommendation for anyone wanting to buy a Portuguese SIM card.
Getting a MEO Portugal SIM card was straightforward, and activation was quick.
While MEO Portugal has the worst 4G/LTE and 5G NR coverage, you will still have reception almost anywhere in Portugal.
And I experienced no reception issues in Porto – even on the metro (read: tram) underground.
I had the fastest speeds with MEO Portugal, primarily thanks to its widely available 5G NR reception (unlike its competitors).
But you should still have one of, if not the, fastest speeds with MEO Portugal on 4G/LTE (in Porto).
NOS Portugal will be the fastest in Lisbon, but that city was not part of my trip back then (in the future, it will be – do not worry 😉).
With extensive coverage, reasonable data-featured plans & blazing-fast speeds, there is nothing to complain about MEO Portugal.
And that is why it is my top recommendation for Portugal.
Portuguese SIM Card Reviews
As mentioned earlier, I also tried out NOS Portugal, Vodafone Portugal & Lycamobile Portugal when I was in Porto.
You should read those reviews too.
Later, I will make a comparison post of the four Portuguese SIM cards I tried… but that will take a while (I have many reviews of other countries that I still need to write, so they are prioritized).
But you can still make an educated purchased after reading the Portuguese SIM card reviews.
Check out my reviews page if you want to read all the other reviews I have written, including other European SIM cards from this trip.
Portugal SIM Card Buying Guide
There are more than ten SIM cards to choose from in Portugal besides MEO Portugal.
I analyze and discuss them in-depth in my Portugal SIM card buying guide.
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