Paying for apartments in cash

We are renting apartments in Paris, Cinque Terre and Rome for our honeymoon in November. Each of the landlords has requested that we pay for our apartments in cash when we arrive (they are from a reputable site so I do not have any concerns about this). My only question is, when would it be best to get the money for them? We live in the US, so should we change our money over before we go? Once we get there? Where is the best place to exchange our money once in Europe? I know many places charged fees when I was there in 2009, but I never had to pay for my lodging up front at that time, since I was on a tour. Any help is appreciated!

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

You can get cash before leaving. A bank will charge a fee plus around 6% for this. Or, you can ask your bank to increase your daily withdrawal limit to $1000 and try to withdraw enough from ATMs in Europe. To get more than a few hundred dollars or euros a day, you may need to visit more than one ATM.

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1590 posts

You might want to take enough euros for you first apartment. After that, you can withdraw euros from ATMs on successive days to accumulate enough for the next two as you go.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10883 posts

A good practice is to carry two debit cards attached to two different accounts in the event that a card goes bad. With two cards it is easy to withdraw large amounts of cash. Our experience with cash upfront is that they will allow a day to get the cash necessary especially if you can provide over half at the first contact. And, of course, advise them of how you will make payment.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7827 posts

We brought 200 euros from home for our first two days that were spent in a hotel( which we payed by CC ) , then we withdrew enough euros for our apartment rental( 800euros) , from two different cards , both with raised limits.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

Ask your landlords if they will accept a bank draft in euro. If so, open an account with XE Trade. Money will be taken from your checking account by electronic transfer and a bank draft in the currency of your choice will be made payable to the person of your choice. While you could have the drafts mailed to the landlords, in your case you might prefer to have them mailed to you at home. Take them with you and present them to the landlords yourself. You will pay only a little more than the international exchange rate for each trade. There are no fees. For security purposes it takes a little time and effort to set up an account, but everything goes swiftly and smoothly after that. If you do it this way, you won't have to pay so much attention to planning your visits to ATMs.

Posted by Kathy
Seattle, WA, USA
125 posts

Hi, Kelly. I always rent apartments and almost always am required to pay in cash when I arrive. In general, I like to have a small amount of local currency on my person when I arrive in that country. Luckily, I usually have this on hand from prior trips. What you are comfortable with doing is purely a personal choice. You know how much money you will need when you arrive and whether or not you feel comfortable taking the small risk of waiting to convert any currency until you are actually in that country or not. I have a Chas Schwab ATM card that doesn't charge me fees and gives me good exchange rates plus a Cap One credit card. I use my ATM card in the airport to get the max amount of Euros that I can. You should check with your bank and if they limit your per diem amount, have them increase that for your trip if necessary. If you are unable to get the amount necessary in one day discuss this with the person you need to pay and they are usually amenable to working something out (2 part payment, etc.) Then, based on your needs for the next stop, I again take out the max per day until I have stockpiled what I will need. I keep that amount in a secure location and use a money belt when moving to the next spot. This strategy has always worked for me. On the other hand, I once sent my teen-age daughter ahead of my arrival. I purchased a greater amount of currency at home and sent it with her so that she didn't run any risk (other than somehow losing that cash in transit) and my husband always gets currency at home. It really is a personal preference.

Posted by JustTravel
San Francisco/Venezia
251 posts

If your first rent is a sizeable amount, email your landlord to ask if it is possible to pay "whatever amount you are comfortable carrying with you from the US" and the rest upon being able to get enough euro from ATMs. Our comfort level is pretty high and we have no issues with carrying a lot of cash; I know, quite the opposite from most American travelers. We have had to pay over 5000 euro in cash for some rentals in the past (for up to three months rental) and our various landlords were understandably patient. Our Venetian landlord last year never asked us for the rent and when I ask him why, he said that Italians are not comfortable talking/asking about money. He said, "...besides you will be here for a while." :-) Also true, with prior Paris rentals.

Posted by Rob
Belton, Mo., U.S.A.
10 posts

Kelly, I just paid the reservation deposit on an apartment in Paris. When I expressed concern about the amount of cash I would need to carry to pay the balance, the owner graciously offered to accept the balance as half cash and half credit card. Speak to the owner and let them know your concerns. So far, I have found everyone in Europe very accommodating.