Cash is King! While giving money tips to travelers in Italy, we should probably first talk about cash. You need to have some Euro cash on hand always, because the open-air markets, some little shops, cafés and pizzerias may not accept your credit card. Carry some small bills and coins with you for small purchases. You can exchange money at the airport before your flight, and especially when you arrive in Italy, and it’s usually a fair deal. Or get organized with your group in advance and buy Euros before you leave home. You need cash on arrival at the villa to pay the refundable security deposit. Read on for more money tips for travelers.
Get Cash from an ATM in Italy
You’ll do well by bringing your ATM card and remembering the PIN number; the automatic teller machines (bancomat) are everywhere. Notify your bank in advance that you’ll be traveling in Italy and ask about service charges when using the bankcard overseas. Beware of skimmers installed on top of the card reader, and make sure to cover and hide your fingers when typing your password on the keyboard. Some ATM machines offer a choice of languages and preset amounts to draw. Prelievo = withdrawal. The maximum daily withdrawal amount is currently € 250.
Buying Euros in Advance
While we recommend withdrawing Euros from an ATM as soon as you arrive in Italy, there are advantages to buying foreign currency in advance. You can take some time to shop online. Make sure you get the best deal by comparing how much currency actually arrives at your doorstep. Don’t rely just on the exchange rate offered, because high commissions and handling fees can take a big chunk off your cash. You can avoid delivery fees by arranging to pick up your Euros at a money store (such as Travelex) at the airport. Non of us get the official market rate, but your supplier should certainly add less than 5% on top. Get together with people in your group and order as a group, to keep the costs down. If you plan to pay for your Euros with a credit or debit card, your bank would considered this a cash advance and slap you with high fees. To remedy this, sign up for Internet banking and pay by bank transfer to avoid all hidden charges.
Credit and Debit Cards
Credit and debit cards are widely used, especially Visa and MasterCard. You can use cards at supermarkets, most stores, restaurants and gas stations. You can pay with a credit or debit card at the Autostrada tollgates, you see the signs (Carte) at the exit gates and they even take Diners and Amex! Drive to a full-service attended tollgate if you don’t want to use the automated machines. Beware of skimmers at gas stations, and keep your cards inside a metal wallet and safe from magnetic stripe readers. Prefer to use your card with a chip by tapping, not striping. And finally, use credit cards since banks offer zero liability when your card is stolen, but you’ll have trouble getting a refund when thieves use your stolen debit card.
Prepaid Travel Money Cards
If you don’t like to carry stacks of cash with you while traveling, you can park your Euros into a Travel Money Card. These take some planning, to make sure you have enough but not too much, since the rate is locked in. These cards come with costs, but they certainly offer safety and convenience. You should compare and read some reviews of prepaid travel cards to find the right one for you.
Travelers’ Cheques have become a thing of the past, but if you still have them, be prepared to spend time at a bank when cashing. Banks are typically open in the mornings only and can have long lines during the tourist season. The special money exchange shops in bigger cities offer faster service, but watch out for their rates and higher charges. It’s best to have a large amount on just a few cheques, rather than lots of small ones, since you pay fees for each cheque when cashing. Remember to bring your passport when cashing a travelers’ cheque. Let us know if you have other good money tips for travelers!