I will be traveling in Italy, Greece and Turkey soon. When dining or shopping, if given a choice of paying via credit card in euros or $US, what is the best course of action?
Never $US, always in euros. See threads on "Dynamic currency exchange".
We always use a Capital One credit card. There are no transaction fees. I think it is best to carry very little cash, for safety reasons. We also use "Travelex" debit cards. If they are lost, we are not resonsible and they re-issue the cards immdiately. We did find that in Rome, some restaurants didn't take credit cards. We were cheated there though. We asked if they would accept our redit card. They said "Yes". When the bill came, we were told that we could use the credit card for the bill, but the tip had to be in cash. Well we were stupid and paid a tip in cash. We later were told that the bill already had the service charge built right in. The server was just making a killing on the tips, where we weren't even supposed to tip. We found that during our two weeks in Turkey and one week in Greece, that credit cards were widely acepted.
Often the best course of action is to pay cash BUT charging in dollars is a sucker play. Always the local currency no matter where you are.
We use the British Airways Visa card. It has no foreign transaction fees and the free companion tickets that we earn give us an excuse to fly to Europe every year. It has "chip and signature" which isn't as good as "chip and pin", but it's better than no chip. We've never been refused service.
Some small non-tourist places might accept only cash, and credit card decals on windows are sometimes outdated. I always ask just to be sure. Always pay in local currency. As for tipping, a service charge is usually included in the bill but in some (rare) places it's not. For good service, it's normal to tip a few percent over the service charge or to round up the total bill. The poster who complained about being cheated was just not prepared for the custom in Europe - and the waiter probably expected a couple of coins, not a financial windfall. My mom taught me that I am supposed to tip for good service.