Buying Euros in USA vs. ATM in Italy

If I buy Euros from Wells Fargo at a rate of 1.4334 with 0.00 fees, is it still better to use the ATM in Italy upon arrival?

Posted by Melissa
4 posts

Ron, I have the same question. Should I just take my dollars and have them exchanged when I arrive? If I just use the ATM I'll have fees to pay. Please advise. Thanks!

Posted by ron
loganville, ga, usa
21 posts

Thanks Steve, that makes sense to me now. The ATM is a "bank to bank transaction" so it's the current exchange rate.

Purchasing from a bank, travel office, money exchange will always be higher.

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
6726 posts

Linda got it 100% right. We did the same exact thing with Capital One. Worked beautifully. But I'm remembering that the daily per-card limit was 250 euros, not dollars.

The magic phrase here is "Capital One Money Market Account", not a regular credit card. No fees of any kind and you actually accrue interest. The catch is that you have to deposit the full amount with them ahead of time, and the paperwork can take a while to clear.

Posted by Sheree
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
109 posts

In terms of the "right bank card" does anyone know what that would be in Canada?

Posted by Linda
Somonauk, Illinois, USA
362 posts

We found out the hard way. Bought some Euros before we left and was charged cash advance fees. Getting euros from an ATM machine was so easy and we received the best exchange rate. I suggest opening a Capital One Money Market Acct with enough money to cover your trip. While the money is in the acct., it earns interest. The acct. supplies you with an ATM card & pin #. My husband and I both opened an acct and split our investment. This way we had two options of getting money (just in case you lose a card or have trouble getting into one, you have the other available). But we never had any problems. If I remember right, you can withdraw $250 each day and having two accts, gave us $500 each day. Never was worried we wouldn't have enough to cover our daily costs.

Posted by Judy
Rockland, Ma
35 posts

I opened an account with a credit union because I was told they did not charge foreign exchange fees for ATM withdrawals, but Mastercard and Visa do charge a percentage on your withdrawal. Check with your bank. I did get a Capital One Credit card to use for hotels that accept credit cards and for purchases as they do not charge fees.

Posted by Barb
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
171 posts

Sheree, check with ATB Financial to find out what their fees and rates are. I haven't used them for two years so my info will be out of date, but I will be using that bank card again soon for our trip.

Posted by Jim
Oklahoma City, OK, USA
430 posts

The cleverest exchange state-side will typically cost you 3% to 5% over the most mediocre ATM exchange in Italy.

That said, an average of 4% is a small price to pay for at least some peace of mind.

I usually arrive in Europe with 1,000 to 1,500 Euro cash already exchanged. I rely on ATM machines for the bulk of the remainder.

Posted by Henry
825 posts

Your credit Union did charge you a foreign transaction fee.Visa/MasterCard charged them then they charged you.

What is Visa’s fee structure for international transactions?
Visa Inc. does not assess any fees to cardholders or merchants. Visa applies International Service Assessment (ISA) fees ranging from 0.15 to 1 percent to its financial institution partners for their use of the global payment system.

The fees are paid by financial institutions on transactions that require the use of our global infrastructure. Since Visa does not assess any fees to cardholders or merchants, we have no involvement in financial institution pricing to cardholders or merchants. If financial institutions or merchants decide to assess a foreign transaction fee to their customers, they are required to provide details to their cardholders and consumers.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24148 posts


I'm not sure there is a "right" bank card in Canada? The rates seem to vary somewhat between Banks, but not by too much. I primarily use a Credit Union ATM card and their service fees seem to be quite reasonable. However, I usually try to make fewer but larger withdrawals to minimize the fees.

Posted by Cindy
Ely, MN, USA
257 posts

We will fly into Rome where we have an apartment rented for a week. The agreement is that I pay the week's rental fee upon arrival. So... that means I need quite a few euros right up front. If I can only take out 250 euros from an ATM on a given day, hmmmmm.... any suggestions?

Posted by Henry
825 posts

Your home bank determines how much you can withdraw a day and you can ask them to raise it. If an Italian bank ATM has a 250 euro transaction limit and your home bank limit is more than that you can perform multiple transactions.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
6528 posts

When I was in Italy a year and a half ago, I ran up against the 250 euro limit in Milan and Florence (I had a $500 limit from the ATM card issuer). It bothered me because I had to pay a $5 transaction fee to my bank.

After that I opened a Capital One MM account. Last month, there didn't seem to be that 250 euro limit (Verona, Venice, Ravenna, Florence, Rome). Though I only once withdrew more than 250 duros at one time, the option was offered to withdraw more. Since there is no transaction fee with Capital One, I preferred not to withdraw (and carry around) larger sums.

Posted by Cindy
Ely, MN, USA
257 posts

All of this advice is fantastic! We are leaving in a month so set up debit cards with our Wells Fargo bank, but we'll only use them if desperate because of their fees. We also took out two joint Capitol One Money Market accounts that have a limit of $500 a day each. How much cash in euros would you recommend arriving with in Italy? (Buying from a bank here before we go?)

Posted by Elizabeth
Shoreview, MN, usa
187 posts

We purchased enough to pay our host in cash upon arrival for our room, which was more than the max ATM withdrawal. The ATM from there on out.

Be sure to call your bank to let them know what you're doing.

Posted by Martha
Raleigh, NC, USA
13 posts

The Capitol One web site states "ATM withdrawals are limited to $500 per day". I'm counting on that. We need 350 Euros cash the day we arrive to pay for our apartment in Rome. With a Capitol One card and our credit union atm card, we should be fine.