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Cash and Cab - First timer on "best of Europe" this august

Hi All
I have read thru the detailed documentation provided by RickSteves/forums here and have specific questions -

1.Did you use for booking a cab from Rome airport to the hotel or would it be easier to user Uber and pay with my credit card? Can you please share your experience?
2. I'm travelling from USA and my first stop is Rome. Since it is highly recommended to withdraw cash. What is considered a reasonable amount to withdraw from ATM for a 14 day trip to all 4 countries (Italy, Swiss, Germany, France)? Totally agree this is a subjective question but i do NOT intend to splurge and mostly will be spending money on food. I do not drink alcohol and prefer Local/hole in the wall/family restaurants. For souvenirs I may buy couple of postcards/chocolates and that is it.

3. Italy, France, Germany all accept Euros however Switzerland accepts swiss Francs. I was thinking of withdrawing cash once at Rome airport and using it thru out the 14 day trip including in swiss. If this is not a good idea then will the tour guide let us know where to withdraw cash in switzerland?
4. My ATM card is thru Bank of America and i called them to find out the list of in-network banks so i don't incur ATM fees. Do you know if Banque nationale d'italiana (Itlay) has a presence in Rome airport? This is my first stop and first trip to europe so a bit nervous :)

Banque nationale d'italiana (Itlay)
Banque nationale d' Paris (Paris)
Deutsche Bank (Germany)
Obwaldner Kantonal Bank (Swiss)

Posted by
10516 posts

Italy does not have uber in the way it exists in the US

Just go to the OFFICIAL taxi line at the airport. It will be a fixed rate to whichever RS tour hotel they would be using

rome2rio is good for research but not the best for booking transport.

Posted by
55 posts

Hi I can answer a few questions. Go online to Romeinlimo and book a transfer from Rome airport to your hotel. I’ve used them multiple times for this and also cruise ship excursions. Very good service and reasonable price. I would not get out a bunch of cash. Things have changed a lot post Covid and it’s a more cashless now. Plus ATM’s are plentiful along your whole route. I’m going n the 21 Day BOE tour on August 20th and will probably only take out a small amount and see how it all plays out. For Switzerland I’ll use my credit card or get out Swiss Francs not Euros. I don’t get to concerned on the 3% foreign exchange fee as it doesn’t amount to that much overall. Have a great trip

Posted by
2444 posts

Use only an official taxi. They will not approach you at the airport door. They are at the taxi stand with the other drivers. Here is a website that will help you
Don’t book anything through Rome2Rio; it’s good for research but that’s all.

As for money, you won’t need much cash. Italy, France and many countries use tap to pay credit cards. So be sure your credit card is tap to pay or you have it in Apple Wallet. Last year I had one store only want cashless for a .60€ water. Also have a back up credit card just in case. Germany this year was the exception, especially Munich. I used more cash than anywhere else, especially for purchases/food less than €20.

Contrary to many, I like to land with local currency, €50-100, because I don’t want to deal with finding a bank affiliated ATM when I’m tired and jet lagged. If I don’t have € leftover from a previous trip or my German neighbor doesn’t have any, I will buy some from my BAC account. Depending on your standing at the bank, the fees are minimal. You can order currency online through your account and either pick it up at a branch or have it mailed to you.

If I need another currency, I’ll use an ATM to get a little as needed. You will need and use Swiss Francs in Switzerland.

ATMs are another subject you want to research and dynamic currency conversion. Use the search feature for lots of forum topics.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
2109 posts
  1. Rome2Rio not good for booking taxis - you'll get good advice from folks here on better choices. Since it is your first trip, a reliable shuttle service could bring you great relief for your arrival in busy Rome.
  2. You probably won't need much cash. If it was me I'd take out at most 50 euro and get more along the way if you need it. I did that on my trip to Amsterdam last year and brought home 35 euro. Make sure Bank of America knows you are traveling so it doesn't flag your Visa transactions as suspicious.
  3. You can't use euros in Switzerland (or if they take them at some tourist areas, it will be at a rate highly unfavorable to you). The guide will help you find ATMs if you need them, but again your Visa is going to get a lot of use.
  4. I personally would not worry too much about the in/out of network charges if you're not likely to take out a lot of cash.

Have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
980 posts

Here's my advice, make of it what you wish. To start with, I suggest getting about 100E from your local bank before you go. Just call and ask, they may have it on hand or can get it in a day or so. Make sure it is in smaller bills, not a single 100E or 2 50E notes. The exchange rate will be lousy, but when you land you'll have cash in hand and to me the convenience is worth losing a few euros on the exchange rate. I'm leery of getting cash at airports because it's easy to use an "independent" ATM that rips you off with incredibly lousy rates. In Italy a bank ATM is called a Bancomat so if you see the letters "ATM" on a machine it's pretty likely one of those independent ripoff machines. After a flight when I'm tired & jetlagged I just want to get to the hotel and get settled. I don't want to be dragging my luggage around looking for a real ATM and dodging the others. Once at your hotel in Rome there are going to be plenty of real ATMs attached to physical banks within a short walk where you can get some cash. I don't see any reason to try to guess how much you might spend in 21 days and take it all out at once, but maybe you have your reasons.

Although not in Italy recently, last summer when we were elsewhere in Europe credit card usage seems to have become much more common since the pandemic. Everyone loves touchless, even at farmers markets! You may not need much cash at all. Of course carry your credit card in the travel wallet RS sent to you, not a pocket or purse. Be sure to decline currency conversion on the ATM or the machine in the store or that the waiter hands you when using your credit card (eg. when it offers to charge you in dollars instead of euros). You want the charge to be in euros, your ATM or credit card company will give you the best conversion rate.

Be sure to notify all your debit and credit cards you are travelling. Also call your bank and check your daily withdrawal limit. It might be sent to something low you didn't realize, such as $100/day and you may want to raise that.

According to the website at the flat rate into Rome is 50E (assuming you aren't arriving at 2am or 10pm or other off hour). They say it's important to take a City of Rome taxi. Just go to the official stand, get the right taxi, and before you put your bags in the taxi say "flat rate 50 euro?" They'll understand you. If the driver agrees you're good, if not take another taxi.

We did the 21-day tour more than a decade ago now, first trip to Europe. It was so much fun! You'll have a great time, just relax and go with the flow.

Posted by
2037 posts
  1. Use only the official taxi lines at the airport. You will see signs for taxi in the airport. Don’t go with anyone that approaches you offering a taxi. They want to charge you more. Just find the official line and get in that line.
  2. Take out 100€. That may be all you need to withdraw the whole trip. If you need more later, withdraw some more. If by the end of the trip you have some money to spend, buy some chocolate.
  3. Withdraw some Swiss francs once you get to Switzerland. Maybe 40 CHF. Again, if you need more, withdraw more.
  4. Seriously, don’t worry about atm fees. In the grand scene of things, they are sooooo minor. I went through the trouble of opening an account that refunds atm fees. Over 3 weeks, I made seven withdrawals. Total atm fees were less than $10. Totally not worth worrying about. Do not go traipsing all over the city to save a buck or two on atm fees. Use an atm in a safe location, preferably one associated with a bank. Do NOT use a currency exchange.

When you withdraw money or use your credit card, always choose to have the transaction in the local currency (not $) for the best conversion rate. Use your credit card whenever possible. My BofA card has no foreign transaction fees.

Posted by
183 posts

We took the 14 Day Best of Europe tour in 2019. When we got to Switzerland, the guide suggested an amount of Francs that we might need to withdraw, and it was pretty spot-on. There was an optional Schilthorn trip she organized, and we needed to pay for that in francs. I wouldn’t get francs at the airport.

If for some reason you prefer to use cash, you could withdraw the limit of Euros at your first ATM visit, and see how far that takes you (keeping daily spending money accessible in your pocket or purse and the rest stowed safely in a money belt or neck wallet or hotel safe). But most places will take a credit card. When I was in Europe this past June, tap-to-pay was everywhere, and i used Apple Pay on my phone. It was nice not having to open my wallet all of the time-felt safer.

When we took this tour our hotel was close to Termini Station (it was the end of the tour, though). It was very easy to take the Leonardo Express train to the airport. But if you think you’re going to be jet lagged and confused, a taxi makes sense too. Not sure when your tour is, but you will receive detailed instructions from the RS Office about the best ways to get to your first hotel, which may also be helpful to you .

Posted by
8201 posts

sojenia, dont overthink it. It's no more complicated than dealing with money in the US. You can use ATMs as often as you need to, not necessary to do it all at once as soon as you get there. Dont worry so much about the fees - you can waste an awful lot of precious time looking for just the right bancomat (what they're called there) to save a few bucks. Convenience is worth something.

Posted by
6100 posts

One of the first things your tour guide will do when the bus gets to Switzerland, is stop close to an ATM so everyone can get Swiss francs. And on our most recent trip, the last stop in Switzerland was a roadside rest/truck stop kind of place (much nicer in Europe than here!) so we could spend our francs; they're not good anywhere else.

Trust your guide; he or she has dealt with all these questions (and many more) many times. Don't be shy about asking. At the very first group meeting, the guide will ask for questions. Ask! If they're more appropriately answered later, you will be told.

You're in for a great time; relax and enjoy yourself.

Posted by
13225 posts

I want to second (or 3rd?) the excellent information from Barbara and Jane. Yes, trust your guide on how much to get in Swiss Francs. Long ago and far away my 21 day Best of Europe guide was right on target with the amount of money needed. I had a few Swiss Francs left over and gave them to Peter the bus driver so he could get himself a beer next time thru.

I'll add that on my last travels to Italy (Sept 2022) and France (April 2023), I used ApplePay for everything. It hadn't been invented yet when I did my 21 day tour but I think there is a good chance you might wind up using ApplePay/GooglePay for a LOT. I even used it to pay for the toilet in the Amsterdam train station last spring just to see if I could. It was 70 euro cents so came across as 77 US cents. VEry easy. In Italy last Fall I used it for everything including 3E gelato. NO ONE even blinked when I held up my phone and said ApplePay?? They just handed me the terminal.

IF you don't use Applepay/Googlepay at home, if you want to try it out, I'd start using it now around your local area to get used to it.

Posted by
4353 posts

Be sure to notify all your debit and credit cards you are travelling.

Some banks still require this and some don't. And some banks are so big their own people don't always have the right answer. So better safe than sorry --- notify them! Otherwise they may see a foreigh transaction, think it is fraud, and lock down the account.

Good advice about checking the withdrawal limit. If you've always withdrawn small amouts, the computers might have applied a lower limit without your knowledge.

We always land in Europe with some local currency in hand. The small extra cost to get a couple of hundred euros from your local bank is nothing compared to the overall cost of the trip. And it certainly eliminates a lot of stress associated with trying to get funds from an ATM upon landing.

Posted by
3972 posts

I may have the minority viewpoint on this, but to get €s in the US from Bank of America or any other bank is akin to removing your money from your wallet right now and setting it on fire. I work too hard for the money I’ve earned to waste it like that no matter the money spent on airfare, hotels, tours, etc. That’s how our parents raised us.

It is beyond simple to go to a bank cash machine when you arrive to take out currency. RS showed that to everybody on one of his programs over a decade ago. I go to a cash machine every time I arrive in Europe assuming I don’t already have € I’ve taken home with me on previous trips. I also bank with BoA and here is their list of international partners:

I find I rarely use cash as I use a travel credit card instead. I do love outdoor markets though in which cash is needed.

Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
131 posts

We are finishing two weeks in Switzerland and have not once needed Swiss francs. The one place that was cash only took Euros (which we had) in a 1:1 ratio to Swiss francs.

Posted by
9 posts

We just got back from the same tour last week. And I agree with Stan. Don’t overthink it. No need to take Euros with you. There are plenty of ATMs around. Use ones associated with a bank and you’ll be fine. Don’t take the US conversion. (They all ask.) We used very little cash, but I was happy to have some on me. There will be an ATM close to your hotel in Switzerland. I regret taking out 100 Swiss francs as I didn’t need them and ended up giving most of them to my kids to spend on souvenirs. (They were happy!!) We booked a van from the airport (one of RS's suggested in his book) because there were 4 of us. Last, your guide will answer all your questions…you are going to have a wonderful time. Oops. One more thing: if heat is an issue for you, take a neck fan. This saved our lives in Rome. Don’t know if the heatwave has continued, but it was intense. Easily found on Amazon. Have a great trip!

Posted by
829 posts

If you are concerned about finding and taking a cab to your hotel, arrange for a pick-up at the arrivals area of the airport. I have used Rome Cabs (in spite of the name, not a taxi company) whenever I’ve been to Rome. Cost is more than the regular taxi, but well worth it to be met with a sign at arrivals, whisked out of the airport right to your hotel after a transatlantic flight.