Large Euro bills such as 50's and 100's.

Hello, I have been reading a number of random post regarding people having difficulty exchanging 50's and 100's with different locations around Rome. From vendors to museums refusing 50's and asking for smaller bills. I understand that most ATM machines spit out the larger bills and as I have not yet travelled to Rome (next summer) I was wondering if anyone has actually gone into the banks and asked for them to make smaller change from the larger ATM withdrawals.
Thank you!

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2501 posts

Most places prefer smaller bills and may sometimes ask if you have something smaller than a 100 euro note, but I would be very surprised if a vendor refused to sell you something because you wanted to pay with a 100 euro note. What might happen is, the salesperson will take your large bill and send someone from his/her shop out with it to get change from somewhere else (usually a bank or a bar). This may take a couple of minutes, but remember they are trying to help you.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2899 posts

I don't think I've ever gotten anything large than a 50 from an ATM. I always ask for an amount that is not evenly divisible by 50 from the ATM (e.g. ask for 190 rather than 200). I usually use large bills at restaurants and for larger purchases even when I could pay with smaller bills; that way I get change back in smaller bills.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3342 posts

This summer I withdrew 1500 euros from my checking account in Italy. The cashier gave me two 500 euro bills and five 100's.
Later that day I went to a store. The total bill was under Eur 100 but I paid with one of the 500's. While I paid I asked if he could take such large bill. The guy looked at me, surprised by my question, and answered in a thick Florentine vernacular: "I wish I had more of those myself. Sure I'll take it." Don't worry. Italians still like to pay cash for stuff and therefore have a high tolerance for large bills. Euro 50 bills are as common place as $20's in America.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8756 posts

The only thing I have used 100€ notes for is to give to my hotel to pay for the stay. 50€ are no problem in virtually all places for purchases that are more than trivial. No, don't hand over a 50€ for a pack of gum.

Posted by Mike
Boston
94 posts

Autostrada cashiers and museums will usually change 50's without a blink. I imagine some might have a problem because every tourist in line is giving them a big bill. Often in small stores the small change is the problem more than the larger bills. Giving the exact spiccioli will earn an extra smile.

Posted by Bryan
Rome, Lazio, Italy
288 posts

Living here, I can say that I regularly encounter difficulty in using larger bills. You will find basically three situations: 1. The cashier has a lot of change or just doesn't care and will take the bill no problem (least common). 2. The cashier will refuse to take the bill and you will have to find a way to get some change before you can make your purchase (very uncommon, but it happens).
3. The cashier will huff and puff (and otherwise be rude I just saw this today), but will ultimately take the money. What I do is make ATM withdrawals of €80 each. With my bank it's the same foreign transaction % whether I make five withdrawals or one. So it's better for me to make a few withdrawals and get all 20s than one. One commenter said that they get odd amounts like €190. However, many ATMs will just give you three fifties and two twenties if you do that. If most of the money will be for larger purchases, like eating out, that's no problem. But if you're about to embark on souvenir shopping, those three fifties might bring you some hassle. If you've ever been to Central or South America, it's the same phenomenon. There's no change to be had anywhere EVEN THOUGH IT'S LARGELY A CASH-AND-CARRY SOCIETY!!! and shopping can just be a hassle in this regard. In the US (and I guess in Canada), where we use plastic for the majority of our purchases nowadays, we can still bring big bills to many places and get change without hassle.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3342 posts

Although I wouldn't suggest you pay for an espresso with a 200 Euro bill, especially at the start of the day when the cash register till is still empty, however I have never ever had a problem with 100 euro bills or lower. They should take it all the time unless the vendor genuinely doesn't have change to give you. In that case the vendor, as Zoe said, will try to change it at the next door shop for you (or ask you to do so). That is different from having establishments that, BY COMPANY POLICY, require their employees to refuse anything above $20. That is in fact the case of several shops in the US (for example several Togo's sandwich franchises here in California).

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10883 posts

We go nearly 100% cash so we will get a lot of 50s and some 100s as we take out money. But we have never encountered any serious problems cashing large bills. After all the locals have big bills also. We try to cash big bills at places that have lots of cash/change. A grocery story is always a good choice especially a busy one. Often the hotel will change the bill especially late in the day when a lot of people have checked out. However, we do try to keep a good amount of smaller bills on us at all times since the small businesses don't like big bills.

Posted by Julie
Salt Lake City, UT, United States
151 posts

We always got a combination of 50s and 20s from the ATMs except one that only gave 20s. I never saw a 100. Vendors often asked for something specific ie if we were spending 7 and gave them a 10 they would ask for 2 so they could give us back 5. But they never gave us a problem if we said we didn't have it. We tried to save the 50s for our hotels and larger purchases but again if we had to use one we never had a problem.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17779 posts

Tania, I have at times received €50 and €100 bills from ATM's, but so far haven't had any problems spending them. If I need a lot of cash for a particular transaction, I try to take the maximum amount that the ATM will allow and that's when I usually get the larger bills. I needed to do that this year as one of the Hotels was offering a good discount for cash. If I have larger bills, I try to "break" them in larger stores that are likely to have lots of change on hand. So far none of the stores or restaurants that I've dealt with has said anything, or refused to take them. I also look at the amount of the bill when deciding which denomination to use. If I'm paying for a €30 meal with at €50 note, there's never been a problem. Cheers!

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

€ 50 bills are common. € 100 might be refused at some places. € 200 and € 500 WILL be routinely refused at many stores. Refuse these two high-denomination bills from banks or other money exchange offices.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
611 posts

Our strategy was to purposefully not dig into our pockets to pay with exact bills or change in order to build a "bank" of various smaller bills. For example, if a restaurant check was 60E, we'd pay with a 100 or 2 50's. If another purchase was 32E, we'd use a 50. Pay for gelato with a 20 and Bottle of water with a 10 and so on. After a few days you have enough smaller bills to cover smaller purchases in the event a merchant can't break a large bill. Before leaving the hotel for the day, my husband and I would split the smaller bills and enough larger bills to make it through the day (extra into the moneybelt). This was a great way to also assess whether or not a trip to the ATM was needed. As a previous poster stated, if we were low on smaller denominations, we'd change the ATM amount to 240E instead of 250E.