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Hi! I’m sorry if this question has been asked before. My daughter is studying in Sorrento for 5 weeks. We were wondering if she should exchange money here in the states or In Italy? If in Italy we’d like her to go with some euros what would be a good amount? Where would she exchange in Italy?

Thank you.

Posted by
8051 posts

Get Euros from your bank before she goes about 200-300 to start small bills.
Then once there use credit cards where they are accepted to conserve the cash. Once the cash runs out get the money out of the an actual bank ATM in Sorrento only during open hours. That is a better way of saving money than exchanging cash dollars for euros.

Posted by
1831 posts

You could do as Jazz+Travels suggest, and that is fine.

I never get euros in advance. I mostly use credit cards when traveling, and I hit up an ATM when I get there to get the necessary cash for incidentals. (Disclaimer: I typically have a few euros left over from my last trip to tide me over til I make it to the ATM.)

Posted by
8051 posts

I never get cash anymore in advance either from my bank while in the USA; but that is what I would recommend a new traveler.
And I always have some euros left over also.

Posted by
5113 posts

This is one of the rare occasions when I agree with jazz. This sounds like a young lady who is likely in Europe on her own for the first time. Arriving with enough cash to last her a couple of days until she has her feet solidly on the ground in Sorrento sounds like the prudent thing to do.

Posted by
1662 posts

Hi tmc,

I don't know how well traveled you and your family are, but here are some things to keep in mind as a reminder or be aware of...

Call her/your bank to alert them of your daughter's travel - even for travel through the "airport" - say she's transferring through Heathrow and on to Italy - If she wants to buy something at the airport, her card may be declined. Best to give "all" countries she'll be going through. That is what I do. Never had a problem.

If your bank has a somewhat decent exchange rate - (Euro has been at a good percentage lately), maybe send her off with 100€-150€ for her first week until she gets acclimated. TDBank has a decent exchange rate compared to other banks for getting euro ahead of time. And, if you're a customer, you don't have to pay a high fee on top - fee is nominal.

She will get a better exchange rate at a Bancomat (ATM.) It's a good idea to try to get funds from a (ATM) Bancomat attached to a real bank (during banking hours) if at all possible.

A good reason for this is - in case the transaction goes awry and/or her bank card gets eaten. She then goes into the bank and has them retrieve it. If she is getting Euro from an outside machine, make sure she covers the number key pad with her hand. (Things should be okay, but, it's always good to be aware of things anyway.)

Also important to know is "the balance in her account" - meaning some banks allow only a certain amount of Euro to be withdrawn. But perhaps she won't be withdrawing 250€ every other day, lol.

Another thing are the "fees" imposed by your bank - to withdraw. That can make or break a balance. So, it's good to know ahead of time/keep track what your bank will charge in terms of fees - like a "foreign ATM fee" and of course the exchange rate.

Other points to consider and remember - Any time she uses her debit card, make sure she does not choose DCC - this will incur a higher exchange rate. Always choose Euros. Stay away from high percentage rate exchanges at the airport, Travelex or other "non" banks.

Does she know about or would she comfortable using a money belt under her clothes? That's for deep storage of extra money, credit card or PP if she will be carrying it around. (Never put anything of great value in a backpack or backpack purse.) Not her phone either. And, please tell her to not hang her bag on the back of a chair or put it on a table top. While going about, she can "lock" her bags with some type of carabiners.

If at all possible, maybe? take two debit cards - with two different numbers. If she is taking a non FTF credit card, do not use that to get money - fees and rates are high. Only in a dire emergency for that. Otherwise credit card use for regular "credit" transactions will reflect the "rate of the day." Cap One and a few others have no FTF, and the exchange rate for purchases is fair.

I hope she has fun!

Posted by
6657 posts

If you belong to AAA you can get euros there for no fee.

Have her take about 100-200 euros with her, that's what we do. Don't want to deal with ATM at airport on arrival when we are jetlagged or worry about it for first few days.

Assuming she has a debit card- use BANK ATMs only to get cash while there- during bank hours and with inside ATM location if possible, I don't think that should be a problem to find in Sorrento.
If she doesn't have her own credit card, get her one now as well.
And be sure to notify the bank and credit card company that she will be in Italy using those cards.

Highly recommend a money belt- my daughter simply refused until she had her passport and all cards stolen- what a pain that was!

Also- take photos of her passport and her cards- front and back- just in case she loses or has stolen- you will then be able to help her from the US.

Posted by
3961 posts

I too would concur to have some Euros in hand upon arriving in Italy. I recently had some leftover Euros that I gave to my daughter for a trip to Italy last month. It's that old adage "peace of mind."

We plan to take some Euros on an upcoming trip to pay the required cash for our apartment upon arrival. The exchange rate is the best we've seen in years.

Wish your daughter well in lovely Sorrento!

Posted by
11368 posts

We always get Euros on arrival at airport ATMs plus save about 100€ for the next trip. Perhaps, for peace of mind, get some ahead for her.

Posted by
511 posts

Also make sure you are noted as an authorized user on her bank account. That way, if any mishap occurs, you can help her out by dealing directly with the bank in the US.

Posted by
4174 posts

I could be wrong about this, but I think vanity is often the reason for this: "Highly recommend a money belt- my daughter simply refused until she had her passport and all cards stolen- what a pain that was!" Occasionally I've seen or heard people,
both male and female say that money belts make them look fat.

I wear a money belt like it is part of my skin. After trying just about every style, I settled on this EazyMate. It was the only style like this when I got it and it was listed as a belt for runners. Now there are many other companies that make them. Obviously, it is worn under clothes, not like the pictures show. And the toilet is the best place to access it.

Before getting the cash from the open bank ATM, I scope out the closest toilet location so that I can go there right after getting the cash and put it in the moneybelt.

Posted by
6657 posts

LOL oh it was definitely vanity in my daughter's case. She is very thin so yes it probably would have shown or at least limited her wardrobe. We were not happy getting that call at 3 am then having to wire her money etc. She had less than 12 hours before she had to take train from Brussels to London that day so just dealing with getting her passport from embassy consumed her entire day- she'll have to go back to Brussels one day to see what she missed!
Luckily her cousin lives in London and was able to loan her some more money once she arrived there.

I wear one all the time but wear baggier pants so you'd never know it was there.

Posted by
5837 posts

Hi! I’m sorry if this question has been asked before.

Don't be sorry for asking, but the getting Euros in North America or feet dry in Euroland is a frequently asked and frequently debated question. It's such a FAQ that RS has the following advice with a bunch of tips:
Resist the urge to buy foreign currency before your trip. Some tourists feel like they just have to have euros or British pounds in their pockets when they step off the airplane, but they pay the price in bad stateside exchange rates. Wait until you arrive to withdraw money. I've yet to see a European airport that didn't have plenty of ATMs.

My suggestion is for her to get the Euros after crossing the pond from a bank sponsored ATM (cash machine) after landing. In an ideal world she should also have a foreign exchange friendly credit card, and a back-up debit/ATM card. The worst American debit cards in terms of foreign exchange fees are better than what major banks charge in terms of FX spreads/fees.

Of course there are many that need the comfort of some Euros in packet on landing. If you are one, 100 EUR should be adequate. If your debit/ATM card does not work, it would be a bigger problem than 100 EUR. I am guessing that for a 5 week study program, the bigger expenses would be pre-paid and cash would only be needed for sundries that can't be paid by credit card.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks everyone for all your advice. She will take a little Euro with her. She does have a chase visa credit card that doesn’t charge a exchange fee. Yes, everything is paid for except her food. She is responsible for her own food.

Posted by
23464 posts

She absolutely needs a debit card to obtain currency as needed. It is very expensive to use a credit card to obtain cash. You can use a credit card for emergency cash if need and you do need a PIN for the credit card. You need to be an authorized use for both her credit and debit card.

Posted by
393 posts

Depending upon where you live .....
Your bank doesn't have Euros. They have to DO something to get them. They have to CHARGE a FEE for that service.
If she gets them when in Europe, they (by definition) have Euros. That's what the machines are full of. They should have a lesser overall cost to you.

I deal with three 'banks' in my area of Minnesota. I verified with all three before my last trip to Italy (April/May this year) and my Credit Union had NO ATM fees. The two Banks had fees. Ergo, we withdrew Euros using the Credit Union card.

However, we used the VISA from a bank since it had no foreign transaction fees.

Posted by
53 posts

Tell her to watch out for airport ATMs. I used one on a layover in Amsterdam, and I was very careless, and that ATM charged me a 10% fee! I didn't realize it until I looked at my receipt. I think it was a Travelex machine. What a ripoff.