I read on flyerguide.com that "many Europeans use "Maestro" or "Visa Electron" cards that work similarly to US debit cards. But most US-issued debit cards will not work with these networks, so you should not expect to make PIN-based transactions overseas with your US-based debit card," and that most US-issued Visa/MC debit cards can only be used in the "credit card" mode. I have a Visa debit card that works thru the Cirrus network. Has anyone had any trouble using their debit card in a Cirrus network ATM to withdraw cash? Thx for any help you can give me.
Yes, my debit card with a 4-digit PIN did not work for cash withdrawals in Italy. I was able to use it, as you said, run as "credit" and did so to pay for meals, admissions, etc- but then there are fees for the conversion and not using your bank's machine, at least with Wells Fargo. My credit card worked fine in the ATMs, so I used that for cash withdrawals...I also like Rick's suggestion of keeping about 200US in the money belt, too, for an emergency.
I used my Visa debit card (through a local credit union) to get cash out of ATMs all over Italy. It's not on the Cirrus network, but Star, Plus, and Interlink. I had no problems, other than I had a daily cash limit based on US dollars (pick a euro amount that is less than that or it won't give you $$). I was never charged a transaction fee. The exchange rate was pretty much the going rate (not enough for me to care/nitpick). I also used it to pay for hotels, purchases, etc. Be aware though that it takes $ out of your checking and not savings, and you have no way of moving money around at the ATM itself (I did so online at an internet cafe, warned later this is a big bad no-no because of security). Your best bet is to call your bank (you have to anyway to tell them you'll be out of country) and ask them for details.