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How many Euros to bring?

We have never been to Italy, let alone used Euros and I have been to to get them here before Going over. We are going to be in Venice, Rome, Florence, and Sorrento for 15 full days. What would you recommend? We are coming from California

Posted by
99 posts

danielle, i would not get more than 100 euros, and when you arrive, go to the nearing bank, use your debit card (you should have two just in case one doesn't work) and get euros. you get the best rate at the banks in europe. if you have a schwab bank account and debit card, there is no transaction fee for cash euros. ciao, nick from santa crua

Posted by
15640 posts

I recommend bringing no euros to Europe. They have billions circulating over there already. Bring you ATM card, and any time you start to run low on euros, just stick your card in one of these machines, enter your PIN, and out come lots of euros. Just remember to have plenty of dollars in the bank account associated with the ATM card.

Posted by
6251 posts

Bring your ATM card and get Euros once you land in Italy.

Posted by
5555 posts

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/cash-tips

Don’t buy foreign currency in advance. Some tourists just have to have
euros or pounds in their pockets when they step off the airplane, but
smart travelers don’t bother and know better than to get lousy
stateside exchange rates. Wait until you arrive at your destination;
I’ve never been to an airport in Europe that didn’t have plenty of
ATMs.

Bring along some US dollars. While you won’t use it for day-to-day
purchases, American cash in your money belt comes in handy for
emergencies, such as when banks go on strike or your ATM card stops
working. I carry several hundred US dollars as a backup (in
denominations of easy-to-exchange 20s). I’ve been in Greece and
Ireland when every bank went on strike, shutting down without warning.
But hard cash is hard cash. People always know roughly what a dollar
is worth. If local banks don’t have exchange services, you can always
find exchange desks at major train stations or airports.

Posted by
1043 posts

I disagree with the advise of not bringing any Euros to Europe. I would at least bring $100 Euros with you. One hundred Euros will not cost you more than $6.00 to $8.00 more if purchased in the States. Having them in your money belt will allow you to hit the ground running. If you need to use the restroom at the airport or get something to drink, you will have the cash to do it. I know you will be able to us ATMs at the airport, but most everyone recommends using an ATM at a bank during the hours that the bank is open in case there is a problem with the ATM machine or the card. This is especially true the first time you use it over in Europe. You don't want to find out that your card doesn't work without having some Euros to get you thru the first day. In my opinion it is well worth paying an extra $6.00 or $8.00 just for the piece of mind. It won't break you.

Posted by
11983 posts

Where are you in California? I can exchange you €50 for your first day. That's all you need till you get settled in your hotel and go to the next ATM.
Italy has one of the highest concentrations of bank branches in the world. ATMs is something you won't have problems finding. Public restrooms maybe, but not ATMs. I wish one could take a leak at the ATM.

Posted by
11613 posts

Take a hundred euro with you, you can order some small denominations for a coffee or water. I would get two 20s, four 10s, and four 5s. This will also give you a chance to get used to the colors and sizes. You will need coins for many public bathrooms, so break a five or two right away.

Posted by
143 posts

When traveling to France or Great Britain, I never convert currency before I get there. But for Italy, I was very happy to have a little local cash when we hit the ground. I found the best exchange rate at my local bank where I have an account - it was a tiny bit more than the rate we got once we were in Europe but not much. I only exchanged enough to pay cash for ground transportation from the airport (which I arranged ahead of time so I knew exact price), to pay the "city tax" that is collected in cash by all places that provide lodging in Italy (we started our trip in Rome), and then to have just a few more Euros to pay for small things like others mention above - public restrooms, water bottles, etc. It seemed to me that Italy is more cash driven than other places in Europe, which use cards for everything.
There were ATM machines everywhere - 3 within a 3 minute walk of our Rome apartment. But I was happy not to have to worry about it until we were settled in our Rome home.

Posted by
1737 posts

If you've never been to Italy (does that include anywhere in Europe?) I think you'd be more comfortable landing with a few Euro in your pocket. You said you want to get used to the Euro before you get to Italy, so go ahead and get 50-100E from your local bank. You'll pay a fee to exchange for sure, but if it makes you feel more secure, go for it. Just don't get a large amount in the US prior to your trip.

The Euro isn't hard to use. It's just like US paper money..... Except there aren't $1 bills, but rather coins for 1E and 2E. You can Google it and see the denominations.

Easiest is to just find an ATM at the airport when you land and pull out what you need. You'll probably want cash for a taxi, or to buy a bus ticket, etc to get to your first hotel...and coming from the US, you most likely will be in Germany or England, or some other country before you land in Italy. You may want some Euro to buy a drink or snack in that country.

We don't purchase any Euro before we travel, but then we usually now have a few left over from a previous trip, so we do have some cash with us now. I still always find the first ATM at the airport and pull out 300E for the first few days of vacation.

Fun thing is..you'll end up with a bunch of really small denomination coins at the end of your trip....I'd recommend you donate those to a charity at the airport, you'll probably never find a use for these.

Posted by
1106 posts

I've never gotten euros before hand, always got them at the airport when arriving.

Most important, let your bank, and any credit card company, know that you will be out of the country. Otherwise they may block your card as suspected stolen or fraud. Make sure whoever you are traveling with does the same so that in case one card doesn't work, or gets lost, etc. you will still have backup.

Posted by
1653 posts

We always purchase about 100€ to have when we land. When all is packed, planned and ready to go, I use my free time to conjure up disasters that may befall us, including losing everything I'm carrying, electrical outages at the airport disabling ATMs. etc. When we get off that overnight flight, we aren't jet lagged; we are jet beat-to-a-pulp and want nothing but a speedy exit and our hotel. I like Mark Twain's line...."I have had many worries in my life, but most of them never happened." But sometimes they do. We contacted the banks, we made a personal visit, and still "There is a problem with your card. Please contact your bank" flashed on the ATM screen, just before my life flashed before my eyes. A hundred Euro, and another ATM card on another account came in handy. We had credit cards, and would not have spent the night on the park bench I was eyeing across from the ATM, but it sure isn't a pleasant start to any trip 1000s of miles from home.

Posted by
307 posts

Lots of conflicting advice here, but I would take 50-100 euros with you. We just returned from Italy, and the first two ATM's we tried to use at Milan airport wouldn't take our card. Once we got into the city and used an ATM at a bank, everything was fine. But it was good to have those euros on hand for that first cappuccino.

Posted by
3351 posts

It does not hurt to have 100-200 Euros in hand when you land. It simply cost a little more. Maybe 12 dollars or so. To me, that is a small price to pay (considering the total cost of the trip) to not have to worry about locating a machine, having to wait in line for one, or finding several out of order and that does happen occasionally. When it comes to buying before leaving or upon arrival -- it is strictly a matter of opinion and preference. Personally, I hope for the best, but it never hurts to be prepared with plan "B" in case plan "A" doesn't work.

Posted by
5555 posts

Added note regarding those of us who depend on ATM cash machines for local currency. It's a good idea to have a back up financial institution's ATM card and advising those institution's fraud department of foreign travel plans. Also verify with your financial institution your daily cash withdraw limits (which are denominated in UDS).

Ask for a temporary increase if you think you need a higher limit (you may want a round up in USD to account for conversion (e.g $400 USD if you will be drawing 300 EUR or $600 USD if you are drawing 500 EUR per day). If Venice is your first stop, the VCE ATM (several years ago) would only dispense 200 EUR (it rejected my initial request for 300 EUR).

Posted by
6544 posts

Whenever I travel, it's without foreign cash. I'll have $100 U.S. money as an emergency.
Obtaining Euros in the U.S. is often very expensive, with your local bank hitting you for a service charge and a very poor rate of exchange.

Every airport and train station in Europe has ATM machines where you can obtain funds before they're needed. Just be careful and use bank ATM's and not a private owned ATM like Travelex which will not give you a proper rate.
You should also investigate what your local bank charges for ATM transactions. My Wells Fargo ATM card costs $5 and 3% discount on currency exchanges in Europe. I withdraw money from my credit union ATM card that has no charges and gives me full value on the exchange.
I try to use my Visa credit card account any time it's possible--in order to minimize the number and amount of ATM transactions. I'm talking hotel rooms, rental cars, gasoline, meals, museums, etc.
In other words, don't take any Euros with you.

Posted by
11613 posts

I must disagree with David. It's not a huge markup if you only get $100 or less frequently m your bank. Stuff happens, be prepared.

I always hold onto some euro at the end of a trip for the next one. As little as €30 has gotten me from the airport to my hotel, where I can look for a bancomats the next morning.

Posted by
752 posts

$1.08 buys one Euro today. With the few cents fee your bank will add on to each Euro you buy, the cost is still pretty low compared to what I paid last year and before that.

Be sure to ask your bank how much fee they add to each Euro before you buy them. The bank takes the money from your Account.

I take enough Euro for food and Frizzante, taxi cab ride to my lodging, the total lodging bill if I have to pay upfront, more food and Frizzante, a good stiff drink here and there (hehe), enough Euro for several days.

I have to hit the ground running when I land in Italy. I don't have the mindset to look around for an ATM, or wait in line. I get real hyper, freak out, and want to get going asap. And I like to take several days to find an ATM inside a bank alcove during business hours. That's my favorite and for me the safest.

Especially this being your first trip to Italy. You should get used to handling Euro cash (even coins) now while you're still at home. On your first trip, it's OK to have a secure amount of Euro on you. Me, I do it all the time.

Posted by
419 posts

The idea to get your Euros from an ATM at the airport is a very good one--just one caution. I was at the airport in Rome some years ago when all the electricity went out, nothing was working, all the stores were dark. Reservations could not be verified which, in my case, was good, because I was upgraded to business class..
Very unlikely to happen, but it can and did.
I think getting some Euros before you take off is the best way to go.

Posted by
607 posts

Which way gives you the better exchange rate on any given day?

  1. Going to your home branch and making a withdrawal from your account in Euros?

  2. Going to a European ATM and making a withdrawal from your account in Euros?

Posted by
8889 posts

Funpig,
Number 2, getting Euros from a cash machine (ATM) is always cheaper.
For number 1 (buy Euros from your local branch), you are paying a security firm to transport Euros across the Atlantic to your bank branch, and paying a bank employee to sell them to you, just so you can carry them back across the Atlantic. That has got to cost more.
For number 2, all that crosses the Atlantic are a few computer messages.

Posted by
901 posts

IGree that it's wise to have a few Euros on hand when you land. And I am laughing at the idea of Roberto's ideal ATM and restroom combo. ☺️

Posted by
3436 posts

Funpig,

  1. You go to your bank and order Euros (unless it is a very big bank in a very big city the chance they actually have them on hand in the US is minimal). They will quote you a price. Let's say you want 100 Euro to make this easy. My bank Friday quoted me a price of $112.00 with an added flat $25 delivery fee. That is a mark up of 4 cents per Euro over what the Interbank rate you see when you ask Google to translate is, plus the extra $25 (your fees may vary). So the "cost" of the euros is $29.00 at my branch.

  2. You stop at an ATM in Europe and get 100 Euro. You decline the "offer for your convenience" of being billed in USD. So your bank is charged $108 if this was yesterday (Friday) plus the 1% foreign exchange by Visa or Master Card. My bank charges no other fees to me (your bank may or may not, you have to ask). So the total "cost" for my getting Euros at an ATM in Europe is $1.

You can do the math. :-)

Banks do not set their own exchange rates for ATM transactions. The amount they see and then bill you is what the card network passes to them which is always pre-converted into your home currency using the Interbank rate for the day. Unfortunately, there are little or no limits on the fees they are allowed to charge you for either option outside of the actual exchange.

Posted by
67 posts

We did not take any euros with us and hit the ATM machine when we got there. It worked out great. BUT if you need to use the restroom, train stations usually charge for bathrooms, I didn't find that airports did. But I would think if you feel more secure having a 100 or so euro with you, take it with you. I opened a Capital 360 account before we left and put most of our funds into that account. Schwab has a similar account. They don't charge foreign transaction fees. I used credit cards when I could which was not much. Call your credit card companies, banks and let them know that you will be out of the country. My biggest challenge was making sure I used all my euros before we left for London. We were foraging for food in the Paris airport before our train to London but hubby came back and said the sandwiches were too high in price. I rolled my eyes. So we took our final 20 euros to London and all the way back to the good old USA. And still had to get lunch in London with pounds. Men...

Jenny

Posted by
769 posts

I always take euros with me,what about the train,bus or taxi from the airport to town and hotel.This year we land at De Gaulle and get on a train to Tours,very tight schedule so having euros makes small purchases easy.

Mike

Posted by
134 posts

We always have some Euros when we travel so we are not dependent on finding an ATM. I know we pay a premium, but we value the convenience. In the grand scheme of the cost of our trip, the additional cost is minimal.

We use a credit card whenever possible.

Posted by
792 posts

I think I have a few one euro coins left over from my last trip. That will let me into a toilet. . I'm good.