Our motel lodging in Prati requires payment in cash upon our arrival. Where is the best place to get cash in Rome, without high service fees? Airport? Termini? Bank? Does Rome use the Euro or the libre; I can't remember?
The cheapest way to get cash is to use your ATM/debit card in a bancomat inside or attached to an Italian bank. You want euros, and you do not want the withdrawal to be converted to dollars, because the exchange rate will not be good.
However, both your card and the bancomat are likely to have withdrawal limits that will probably be insufficient for paying your entire lodging bill up front. Is that required, or will you be able to pay for a day or two at a time? You can get around the bancomat limit (I've heard that they may be as low as 200 or 250 euros) by going to more than one bancomat, but there's no avoiding your bank's daily limit. I suggest talking to your bank now to find out what that limit is and whether it can be raised somewhat.
If the two(?) of you have separate accounts, you'll have two ATM cards to use, and that will help. Otherwise, you could order euros from a bank in your hometown, but that has disadvantages: a not-good exchange rate, possibly an extra fee, and the risk of carrying excess cash on a long, tiring travel day. If you opt to do this, don't get more cash at home than the bare minimum you need, and use a money belt. (You can't wear the money belt when you go through airport security, though.)
Edited to add: I think you will find shipping things back home a lot more expensive than you expect.
What kind of place are you staying that requires cash payment upon arrival? Rome is a big, modern city (and yes, uses the Euro) and most lodging in Rome is like lodging in the US and elsewhere in Europe, and takes credit cards. Even inexpensive, budget hotels usually take credit cards, for the protection of both you and the hotel.
I would be a little suspicious of a lodging that demands full cash payment, up-front for your stay. It sounds like they are trying to be "off the books", and that sounds like a recipe for getting ripped off.
There is no single "best" place for getting cash - the general advice is to always simply get cash from any well-lit ATM attached to a bank, displaying a Visa or Mastercard logo. Rome, like any modern city, had thousands of ATMs and you'll never be far from one. Don't bother going inside a bank (they will probably just point you to an ATM), and definitely don't use currency-exchange counters at an airport or train station unless you absolutely don't have a debit card at all.
Apparently you have not gone abroad for a while. In the Travel Tips tab on this website, there is a wealth of valuable information. I'd suggest reading the "Money" section to familiarize yourself in obtaining foreign currency, using cash and credit cards. Skim through the other topics as well. It will answer many questions and make you a more educated and confidant traveler.
Best: Inside the Trevi Fountain (no fees). Only coins however.
Next best: any bank ATM (fees vary depending on your bank)
Roberto, you made me smile.
What kind of place are you staying that requires cash payment upon
rbmichae, we've stayed in a well known, oft-recommended hotel in the Cinque Terre which took only cash. It's not as rare as you might think, even in Rome. I'm told it mostly has to do with avoiding the fees they have to pay to credit card companies, which eat into the profits for smaller, family-run businesses.
You made me chuckle too, Roberto!
We just got back from Italy and France, got a discount for cash on the place we stayed so I bought euros here in States. Was my first place to stay which made it easy. I know lots of people disagree with this here on forum, but it was easier for us. Tried to withdraw cash euros from ATM and only allowed 300 even though I upped with my bank. You do not want to be stressed out there with this issue. Ask motel/hotel if you can pay with credit card? You can email or call, it’s worth it to find out. Do what suits you best. Happy travels.
Aloha princess pupule
PS: love your humor Roberto, bring your scuba gear
Good one, Roberto!
Gracialynne - also check with your bank to see whether they currently have a 'partner bank' in Italy where the fees will be lower or even waived. For example, Bank of America was partnered with PMB Paribas in France and Deutsche Bank in Italy and Spain, as well as Germany.
You can use a Bancomat inside the entrance doors to the bank building, but outside the bank's platform/lobby area.
If the Bancomat's limit is less than you need, you can do more than one transaction at the same Bancomat, a second after the first transaction is completed ("Welcome" screen comes up), but you must stay within your own bank's daily limit.
Yes - you need a debit card and it needs to be on one of the big networks. A standard visa debit card will be fine.
Then use an ATM (bancomat) as outlined above.
I specify the card because on here a while back someone had a problem with an ATM only card that was not on a network (no visa or other logo). I didn't know these existed, but apparently they do. Just get the normal visa or MasterCard one that every bank I've used offers.
Gracialynne, your travel history points out the importance of everyone in a group knowing how to do basic things let get money or order a meal. I'm not putting you down; I know that when DH and I travel, I'm usually the one who goes to the Bancomat and speaks up in stores and restaurants. But when I was laid up in a hotel room in Palermo with bronchitis, he had to step up. So it makes for less anxiety for each person to be able to cope.
And you definitely need a debit card. You can use a credit card in a Bancomat, but your cc company will treat it as a cash advance, with outrageous charges.
And BTW, in response to someone else's (Roberto's?) comment, we're scouting hotels for our upcoming 2018 Europe trip, and several of the ones we've looked at want to be paid on arrival. Not in cash, though.
Buon viaggio, Gracialynne.
I think the B&B we've stayed at 3 times in Venice requires cash payment. We book using our cc number, but always pay in cash on arrival. (We haven't stayed there since 2012, so it's a tad fuzzy). But we tend more towards airbnb now, which is paid up front.
And we always get 150-200 euro and 80-100 GBP from the bank before leaving. I feel better having some with me to start. Not sure if Canadian banks are diff from the US, but generally I've just been able to go in and get some without a wait. My mom wanted a large amount of GBP one time and the bank said they'd have to wait until more came in, but I was able to get them from my bank no problem...and we of course pay a little more than the current exchange (maybe 5% more) but never have paid a fee (at least, a fee doesn't show up on the receipt they give me).
Test out that debit card at home right away since you apparently haven't yet used it yet. You need to be sure it works. And notify the bank of your travel plans so they don't suspect fraud when withdrawals come in from Italy.
I'm not at all sure that Bank of America ATM/debit cards are no-fee in European ATMs. Perhaps some are, but I think people have commented on their fees here. An ATM/debit card that is fee-free if you use a partner bank's ATMs isn't necessary much of a deal. What traveler wants to wander around a strange city, looking for a particular brand of ATM?
When we went to Glasgow earlier this year I just used the ATM right there in the airport attached to a big wall. It didn't seem to charge me any additional fees other than what my bank charged me. If there was a fee it was only a couple bucks Max
Does anyone know if the cash machine in the Rome airport is a good place to get cash? I would just as soon get it before I leave the airport so I don't have to go traipsing around looking for one later.
To follow up on acraven's very good advice, be sure your debit card works. It sounds like you may not have 'activated' it and depending on their ( the bank's) policy may have cancelled that card because of not having gotten the activation call and due to its non-use considered it 'lost'
Thank you for that warning, Sandra. In some countries post offices are considered good places to use ATMs; maybe not in Italy! But an ATM can malfunction anywhere. In about 365 days' worth of heavy use, I've had one ATM machine (in France) swallow my card and do nothing--no screen update, nothing; luckily for me it was daytime and the bank was open. And two machines in Spain gave me money but failed to return my card until I hit RESET on the first occasion and performed another transaction on the second. Those events are the reason why I now pay a lot more attention the oft-given advice that one use an ATM attached to a bank during the hours the bank is open.
Vick, I think you'll probably be fine with an airport ATM, but I haven't used one myself. Use one with a bank logo, if possible. Be sure the withdrawal amount is in euros only, and pay attention to the screen. If the ATM is going to charge you a fee, it will tell you so, and you can make a decision as to whether it's acceptable for that one transaction or not.
I use Postamat in almost every city I visit in Italy and have never had a problem.
Please don't generalize from one experience - others have different experiences, just as valid as yours. Can a card ever disappear in a Postamat? Of course, but the same can happen at any ATM terminal.
What is bancomat? Is that the name of a bank or?
Italians call ATMs "bancomats". Or, I guess, maybe "bancomati" in the plural??
The bancomat logo: http://tuttoggi.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/bancomat4.gif
Bancomat is both singular and plural, it's a brand name invented from scratch in the late 70s.
ATM is Milan's Transit Authority: so when you see an ATM sticker on shop windows in Milan it means they sell bus tickets, not that there is a Bancomat inside.
Our hotel in Venice didn't require cash up front, but did give a discount for cash payment of the bill. Using ATMs in Europe is no different than using one at home. In Rome, I needed cash and spotted an ATM in Piazza della Rotonda, in front of the Pantheon. Two minutes later, I had 250 euro in hand with no extra service charges from my bank.
Our apartment in Venice this summer wanted cash upon arrival. It keeps their costs down. PayPal and credit cards charges can add up for the owners. Plus we had to pay the tourist tax upon arrival as well.
darioalb, I am assuming it's "la bancomat"?
Plus we had to pay the tourist tax upon arrival as well.
Oh, right. This is another fee that confuses people. We've had to pay per-night, per-person tourist taxes at almost all of our accommodations in Italy (that I recall) and it's usually requested in cash up front at check-in. Those fees are different depending on city and rating of the room. For instance, here is info on Rome's tourism website:
No, sorry. It's "il" bancomat, masculine, because the subtext noun (sportello aka counter) is masculine.
Sportello BANCario autOMATico = automated cashier's window = BANCOMAT.
I would just add that one should always find out what their actual bank limit is for ATM withdrawals before leaving the U.S. for an international trip. With Wells Fargo a few years ago my atm withdrawal limit was $150 per day which is probably not enough for extensive European touring similar to what gracialynne has planned. So before my trip to Europe I called and requested a higher limit and the bank representative had no problem increasing it to $400.
I used the Italian Post ATM at FCO without issue (it was the only machine there in Terminal 1). The rate was excellent, better than the published rate for that day. But all the ATMs in Italy gave me excellent rates.
I got about $525 at FCO. That was more than enough to pay the driver and the balance on a 4 night apt stay. You haven’t said how much you need. There are so many ATMs in Italy I suspect the taxi driver will stop at one for you.
Cash payment on arrival is common, not a source of concern.
If your bank requires picky 'partner bank' bancomat use or charges a fee, get a better bank. We dropped BOA years ago when they wanted to charge $5 per withdrawal; they then moved to not charging it with partner bank. This is purely a 'we can do it, so what you gonna do about it' fee. We moved to a different bank which doesn't make these charges.
The primary reason an apartment rental requires cash is that they are not reporting the income. When we needed lots of rubles on arrival for an apartment, we got them from our US bank and carried them in a money belt. Otherwise we have more than one ATM card and can acquire the needed cash on arrival if the amount is not too great.
In the spirit of the RS TOS, I'm going to assume the OP is sincere and add the following:
There was a time long ago when the post office ATMs supposedly offered the best exchange rate. That may have been just a rumor left over from Traveler Cheque days. I haven't used a Poste Italiane ATM in well over a decade or two, so I would trust Sandra's up-to-date experience (which I now see she deleted).
"The teller in California said a lot of people get Euros before going to Europe. I thought I had read that was an awfully expensive way to go"
Only if you're a penny pincher. 100€ will most likely prevent the need to find an ATM soon after landing. The cost of buying 100€ at a U.S. bank is not "awfully expensive." Fees and commissions vary among financial institutions and change regularly. To save a few pennies on such a small amount of money, it doesn't pay to spend much time shopping around. That's a job for a penny pincher.
If your lodging requires cash (Euros) upfront on the day of arrival, paid in full, then that's what I call poor planning for travel. Sometimes you can get lucky by asking if you can spread payments out along the first three days, given the ATMs limits and such. Most places will say no. Therefore, if you need hundred of Euros on the day of arrival, you will have no choice but to overpay for that advanced purchase. Again, poor planning.
IMO, Chase may be the worst bank in the world. I think their customer service sucks. They are certainly not kind to travelers. Their fee/commission structure is among the highest. If you have to pay an annual fee for a credit/debit card that offers "no foreign transaction fees," how do you plan to come out ahead? All their travel cards seem to come with a minimum 16.99% APR. Outrageously greedy.
Use Google Maps to help you find banks and ATMs near where you're staying in Rome.
Put in the address of your lodging. Expand the screen and you will see € symbols for the banks and little boxes with ATM in them for the ATMs near you. You can click on the map symbols to see what they look like.
In my experience near the Prati area (apartment on Vicolo d'Orfeo) in June, the banks all had cash machines and I used those for cash when the banks were open. The places with the ATM symbols were in little stores of some kind. I never use those in any country.
By the way, the listings for the apartment owner in Rome said cash only, but he took my credit card with one of those little hand held machines like the wait staff in restaurants use. The same was true of the owner of the apartment I rented in Venice.
"There is no annual fee on my foreign transaction fee free credit card, TravelSnob? Where did you get that idea?"
There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of people who read these boards. What makes you think I was directing my comments only to you?
"And I found Chase to be quite kind to me as a traveler."
I do business with several banks. My relationship with Chase is among the oldest relationship I have. And it's the worst. Of all the credit cards at my disposal, I prefer to leave my Chase cards (I have three) at home when I travel.
...to avoid potentially defective after-hour machines in the airport or elsewhere eating my credit card.
That worries me unless it is a slip of the tongue (fingers). Using a credit card to get cash from an ATM is usually not a good idea. It would be treated as a cash advance and immediately attract interest at the cash advance rate which is usually pretty high.
If you use an ATM card or debit card to withdraw cash it works just like at home (plus transaction fee, if any) and is much cheaper overall.
Also, regarding machines gobbling cards, that is very rare unless you repeatedly put in the wrong PIN. I've never had it happen to me. But that is why it is always the best idea to carry your main card and a backup.
In about 365 days in Europe and using ATMs extremely frequently, I've encountered three malfunctions. Two involved failure to return my card until I had taken some sort of action on the machine (once I had to perform a second withdrawal); the third time the machine accepted my card but nothing happened on the screen. That required a trip inside the bank; they opened the machine and gave my back my card.
Those experiences--especially the third--have taught me the virtue of using ATMs at banks during banking hours. You're not likely ever to have a problem, but if you do, you want it to happen when the bank is open.
Hey, gracialynne--Chase does in fact have a no foreign transaction fee credit card. it's the Amazon Visa card, which si through Chase. And best of all, it gives 3% cashback on Amazon purchases, 2% on restaurants, gas, drug stores (and I think office supplies, at least that's my old note on this), 1% on the rest. Our restaurant meals in Europe did indeed report as restaurants for the 2% cashback. The exchange rate was the expected interbank rate for the transaction.
Gracialynne, often mentioned on this forum, but not yet in this particular thread, is the idea of not only having a debit card, but also a second back-up debit card on another account, just in case something goes awry with your first card. Generally don’t keep the two cards together. Remember, with a debit card you are accessing your own money, so make sure you have ample funds in the account. When you won’t need to use a debit card on a particular day, then keep it/them in your safest place. Different people will say that different places are the safest, such as hotel safe, your room safe, locked in your suitcase, or in your hidden safety wallet (under your clothes, either around your waist or around your neck). Use a debit card only to get euros; use a credit card, ideally with no foreign transaction fee, for any purchases, including lodging. It is also a good idea to have a second credit card, on a different account, along as back-up, again in case something goes awry.
"They were very good to make it clear that there are no interest charges on my Chase card until next April"
Chase has a history of making poor investments. This is well documented in financial news. They do offer special deals from time to time to raise money when they need it most. Being a veteran customer, the new deals often don't reach me because I'm not eligible. Plus, I have no desire to open a new account with Chase. 0% APR is the best way to go, the longer the better.
The biggest plus I have with Chase is longevity. When things go wrong, and they often do, I can play the veteran-status card. That can quickly get me to a Supervisor, especially one who speaks English and is based in America. Not easy to find with Chase, since most of their CS is farmed out to India or Pakistan. My APR with Chase is under 9%, another plus, but that has more to do with my credit rating than being a veteran customer.
"Chase admitted that no, they do not have such banks, but that you can use their card at any bank in Italy, and if you are a customer in good standing with them, they will waive all fees upon your return, if you call them."
As you were told, Chase has no affiliate banks in Italy. I wish you luck with the rest of the information you were given. I can't count how many times a CS rep from Chase told me one thing only to find the exact opposite to be the truth. Be sure to lock in names, dates, and titles whenever a bank representative promises you something. Even with those details, CS at Chase can be awful to do deal with. Not for me.
It has been my experience with banks here in Canada (Toronto Dominion, i.e. TD, and Royal Bank, both major banks) that the people I deal with whether by phone or in person, know NOTHING about banks and banking in Europe. If you ask for information about a bank in Las Vegas they know everything there is to know, but ask about using your bank card in Paris and garbled misinformation ensues.
Good advice, acraven. I'm never going to use a machine after bank hours. I hadn't considered that before reading posts in this forum. Very wise. This forum has been so helpful. Thank you!
TravelSnob it seems you have been dealing with a completely different Chase than I have.
I always get a local (Houston, TX) CS person on the phone and there is never a language barrier. In fact, just last week I talked with a supervisor who I went to High School with. I do agree that many of the tellers in the branches can't answer simple questions like what the international fees are for using my ATM Debit card in Europe will be (correct answer: because of my accounts, it is zero).
None of the Chase cards I have have any foreign transaction fees. Most of their fees I have been forced to pay are in line with every other nation wide bank.
I have never had any issues with Chase that would cause me to want to change to another bank.
But I have had issues with several other big banks that would prevent me from ever opening an account with those banks.
"TravelSnob it seems you have been dealing with a completely different Chase than I have."
That wouldn't surprise me. The New York marketplace is huge, and we get treated differently sometimes. We almost always pay more than everybody else. Businesses get away with it because they can.