An impression of the better 3G prepaid internet deal in Portugal in 2012. Since 2010 the prepaid landscape hasn't changed much, have a look at how to get Vodafone 3G prepaid internet as a foreigner.
2012 prepaid 3G internet in Portugal
In 2010 - Optimus had the best deal, a fixed 3G bandwidth bundle for a reasonable price. In 2012 it's Vodafone with "Banda Larga Movel Recarregavel"
For € 10,- you get 720 Mb valid for 24 days, with a plan called "Vita Net Plus". It does come with a bit of a fight, you need to change the 3G connection plan first.
Without a plan change you're stuck with "Vita Net Light" - resulting with just 10 hours of surfing over 90 days for the same € 10,-
Vodafone 3G plan - Vita Net Plus
The "Banda Larga Movel Recarregavel" card can be bought in any Vodafone shop in Portugal. In 2012 it was a bit of a struggle to get the shop list from the Portuguese Vodafone website, The shop locater simply didn't work.
After contacting the vodafone helpdesk over e-mail they supplied a list of the Vodafone shops near the Spanish border. This saves fuel, time and frustration - specially in the smaller Portuguese towns it's a dungeon to find your way in and out.
At the Vodafone shop in Evora the 3G prepaid simcard was a painless buy. Just your passport details and the 3G simcard is activated with the Vodafone shop address. (It can not be used for voice calling)
The next task was changing the 3G plan from "Vita Net Light" to "Vita Net Plus". In short: Don't try to do this yourself - unless you speak Portuguese AND familiar with their 3G terminology. Besides this you need to call a phone number, which is not possible with the 3G data card.
The next hurdle is to convince the shopkeeper you don't want the 4 free hours of Internet that come with "Vita Net Light". Changing the plan immediately to "Vita Net Plus" will delete the 4 hours.
If you want the 4 hours anyway, it requires coming back to a Vodafone shop to make the 3G plan change. With limited time, don't do it - finding a Vodafone shop while moving around in Portugal can be quite time consuming, not to mention explaining what you want.
After the plan "Vita Net Plus" is activated, ask the shop keeper to recharge the card with € 10- (the minimum) for 720 Mb bandwidth valid for 24 days.
The simcard worked instantly - in case you use the simcard in 3G USB modem stick or GlobeSurfer 3G Router , here's the APN:
Expect a weak 3G internet signal in Portugal? Read about boosting 3G internet signals
Recharging after the initial recharge can be done over the internet using a Credit Card. Register your phone number on the Vodafone website and go through the recharge process.
UPDATE May 2012 - Vodafone Portugal has disabled CC recharge for foreigners) The only way to recharge is to find a Vodafone shop or similar recharge location.
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