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Breaking up bills in Italy

I am going on a trip to europe this xmas season (specifically Rome). However, I have only been able to get 100 Euro bills.

-Does anybody knows if the banks charge you for breaking up this bills into smaller currency?

-Also, do they take this bills at most stores or not?


Posted by
11832 posts

Most restaurants or tourist shops will take big bills. Some of the smaller shops will take them. Use your big bills where you can and save your smaller ones for other places.

Banks in the U.S. usually only handle certain notes. Sometimes they have other bills on hand they will trade you but it's hit and miss.

The best way to get money is through the ATM's in Europe. I never buy currency ahead but I stop at an ATM in the airport. I usually get at least a few days worth of cash each time to keep the charges relatively low. I use a credit card where I can to minimize my cash needs and keep better track of my spending.

Posted by
166 posts

Hi Rafael,

I travel to Italy twice a year and I never have or had a problem using or changing 100 euro bills. If you go out to dinner this is the best way to break a 100. Your hotel usually can break 100's as well. Banks to my knowledge don't charge a fee to exchange 100's for smaller bills.

Have fun,

Posted by
1806 posts

I tried to use my 100E bill to pay for gelato...boy, did I get yelled at. They would not accept it, even after they handed my daughter her cone, and she had licked it! I ran to several different stores in the area to see if anyone would break it. NO.

My daughter had to hand the ice cream back to them, and she walked out. I finally found a shop, bought some cheese, they broke the 100E bill and we went to a different gelato shop to get our fix.

Lesson learned. Small shops generally will not break the bills for you. Make sure you break them when you can in resturants, etc when the bill is over 10E.

The 100E bill was the only bill I had. I'd just visited an ATM and was surprised when I only got the one bill...I thought I'd get 5 20E bills!

This happened in Rome at the Blue Ice gelato shop on the Campo di'Fiori.

Posted by
3580 posts

One way to guarantee getting at least one smaller bill is to request an odd amount such as 120 or 150 at the ATM.

Posted by
486 posts

I agree about getting odd amounts at ATMs. And remember folks, if you were a small shop owner in the U.S. and someone handed you a hundred dollar bill (or even a fifty or a twenty) for a $2 purchase, you would think they were nuts. And it is not fair to the shop owner to take all their change unless you ask before buying if they can break the bill (or just show it if you can't communicate with them). There are lots of banks, big stores, hotels and such but never count on having to buy small things from small stores if your only money just came from an ATM.

Posted by
7737 posts

Where did you get the 100s? At your US bank? The ATM machines that we used in Italy were like here, giving everything out as 20s. If you got them at your bank, you should be able to request them to special order 20s or 50s for you, I would think.

Posted by
357 posts

All the ATM's we used, for 250 EUR withdrawls, gave us 200 in 50's and 50 in 10's. That was nice, but we still found that everyone seemed to want exact change. This was frustrating because where do we get the change if nobody wants to give it!!!
And when we'd add a small tip to a meal where we charged to our Visa, you had to do it in cash. Only one place had a separate 'ticket' for tips charged to our card. Apparently these charged tips don't often make it back to the server, I guess???

Posted by
683 posts

Try not to use banks in Italy.Most are not easy to enter as you often must get into a revolving door that closes behind you and will not allow you entry until a bank employee lets you in.

Posted by
293 posts

Steve, I can empathize--I call Italy "the land of no change." It seems that most merchants want exact change. I've also had merchants refuse to accept coins that were damaged (of course, the coins are handed off to you as an unsuspecting tourist as change). This just makes Italy all the more charming--or perhaps challenging is a better term. I keep going back, though.

Posted by
689 posts

We used a 100 bill in a super market. Our bill was about 70 e. The cashier really looked carefully at that bill before she finally muttered something and took it.

Try asking your hotel to break a big bill.

Posted by
10344 posts

Giving a merchant in Europe a 100 euro bill is a little like giving a merchant in the US a $150 bill--you could expect a little grumbling and wouldn't be shocked if they refused it! :)

Posted by
1158 posts


In the US the merchants look at $50 bill, so don't be
impressed if in europe they do the same think woth 100 bill.It's normal and fair.

I don't believe a small store would take 100 euro bill.That's alot of money.