ATM versus AAA money card

I know the AAA money card has a lot of fees with it including a 7% currency conversion fee. Does an ATM card also have that fee or because it is between banks is there no currency conversion fee? Which is best? I am going to be in Italy .

Posted by Devika
Olympia, WA
73 posts

Absolutely the ATM. Last summer we used the ATM debit card all the time. Sure they charge a fee but it is bearable. Credit cards have recently started these conversion charges. We still used our credit for big things like hotels and some purchases. We also took out enough money from the ATM to last a few days so we could avoid getting charged everyday.

Posted by Jon
Portland, Oregon, USA
320 posts

ATM - even the smallest towns in Tuscany have ATM's. My bank only charged a $3.00 fee for each transaction. Before I left home I had the bank raise my daily ATM limit so that i could make larger and less frequent withdrawals. It worked great - no banks, no lines, no hassles - just ATM and go!

Plus the merchants much prefer cash over credit cards - I understand the proprietor's credit card fees are much higher in Europe than here. I got many discounts for using cash at hotels and restaurants.

Posted by Jeff
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
206 posts

I'll echo the respondents above--go for the ATM card. A 7% currency fee is high. As I think some of us have said elsewhere on this board, call your bank before you leave and tell them that you'll be using the card in Italy and over what dates. I also asked for my limit to be raised (I think to $1,000 a day). That's a little risky (in case your card is stolen), but my bank has a $300 daily limit otherwise. I knew that wouldn't be enough given that I needed large amounts of cash (for reasons it's unnecessary to go into here) and the dollar was not strong. Some ATMs in Italy limit the amount you can withdraw at one time. I found that the Banca di Roma's machines allow larger withdrawals.

Posted by Denice
Cleveland, USA
61 posts

If you are talking about the AAA VISA travel money card, it is a debit card that works just like a normal ATM card or VISA Check Card. Check with your bank to find out what their fees will be for ATM withdrawels abroad. I used the AAA card in Australia last summer and it worked great.