Travel money guide for Italy | finder.com

Travel money guide: Italy

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Ciao, amico! Traveling to Italy? Start comparing different ways to spend and prep your wallet for all of the pasta, pizza and gelato.

The official currency of Italy is the euro, even though the country is still somewhat a cash based economy. You won’t be paying cash all of the time, as there are shops and merchants in Italy that are well equipped to accept card payments – Visa and Mastercard are more common than American Express.

Just look for a card that doesn’t charge for international ATM withdrawal, or currency conversion, and you’ll have a vacation without paying all of the extra fees in what is arguably one of the most beautiful countries on Earth.

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

A combination of travel money is the best approach for spending in Italy. Take more than one way to withdraw cash as there have been claims that Italian ATMs can be temperamental with foreign cards. You don’t want to be in a foreign country without access to money if one of your cards is lost or stolen.

Make your vacation memorable for all the right reasons and travel with peace of mind that you’re getting the most from your budget with a travel card, credit card or debit card.

Our pick for travel

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 3x points on dining at restaurants and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
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Promoted

Compare travel cards for Italy

Name Product Currency Conversion Fee Annual Fee APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.99% to 24.99% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
None
$450
17.99% to 24.99% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
None
$0
14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
None
$0
12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable
An 18 months 0%% Intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees

Compare up to 4 providers

Promoted
Travelex Money Card

Why we like: Travelex Money Card

Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.

  • Not linked to your bank account for safety.
  • Convert currency with a 5.50% Foreign Exchange Fee
  • Contactless payments
  • Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.

    How many euros do I need to bring to Rome?

    The summer season premiums (late June, July and August) will add to the cost of an Italian trip – off-season, prices drop dramatically. The cost of vacationing typically depends on where you are in the country. In smaller towns, especially in the South, Italy is surprisingly affordable. In the middle of the country, the north and especially in touristic places like Rome, Venice and Milan, it can be expensive.

    Find out some typical vacation prices in Rome.

    Budget Mid-range Luxury
    bldg

    Camping in Rome
    $12 per night

    2-star hotel in Rome
    $70 – $140 per night
    5-star hotel in Rome
    $180 – $600 per night
    utensil Trapizzino: $4
    Sandwich: $3 – $5
    Dinner for two with wine
    $70
    5-star restaurant
    $100 – $600
    camera Colosseum entry
    $14
    Rome and Colosseum half day walking tour
    $60
    Imperial Rome golf cart tour
    $215

    *Prices are for example purposes only.

    Exchange rate history

    Predicting the movements of currency pairs is a difficult task, but you can lock in the exchange rate on a travel card if you believe euros will be more expensive to buy in the future.

    Compare money transfers to italy

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    Should it be a travel card, a debit card or a credit card?

    Credit cards and debit cards with travel features are just as suitable to take on a trip to Italy and Europe as a prepaid travel money card. You can use your Visa or Mastercard in Italy without issue, though American Express typically has a higher surcharge and isn’t as commonly accepted. Use your card to pay for train tickets, souvenirs at gift shops, hotels, trattorias (Italian eateries), restaurants and more.

    What you’ll need cash for is to pay for street food, taxis, to pay tour guides and for purchases under 10 or 20 euros. When you compare cards, look for a product that lets you forego the foreign ATM transaction fee.
    How to use a credit card in Italy

    A quick summary of travel money options in Italy

    Travel money option Pros Cons
    Debit cards for travel
    • Protected by PIN & chip
    • Access to your own money, without needing a separate ‘travel account’
    • Cheap and convenient access to cash
    • International ATM fees and currency conversion fees
    • Foreign transaction fees
    • No emergency funds available though a cash advance facility
    Prepaid travel money cards
    • Pre-load euro and spend without incurring fees for currency conversion
    • Protected by PIN & chip
    • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
    • Reloadable and keep track of your spending
    • May still be charged for ATM withdrawals.
    • Reload fees could be high
    • Foreign exchange rates are usually less competitive
    Credit cards for travel
    • Protected by PIN & chip
    • Access to funds up to your credit limit
    • Some have no currency conversion or transaction fees
    • Interest free days when you pay your account in full
    • Perks like complimentary travel insurance and reward points
    • Emergency card replacement
    • Can charge high withdrawal and cash advance fees
    • Attracts an annual fee
    Traveler’s checks
    • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
    • Photo ID needed to cash checks
    • Not accepted everywhere
    • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
    Cash
    • Greater payment flexibility
    • Convenience
    • Difficult to manage expenses
    • Higher risk of theft

    This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

    How travel money products work

    Using debit cards

    A travel debit card that waives the fee for currency conversion, or the fee for international ATM withdrawals, with no annual fee is ideal. Research if who you bank with is part of the Global ATM Alliance to find out if you can make cash withdrawals for free. If not, you can access cash in Italy for roughly the same price you would at home.

    • Tip: Your debit card will work in more places if it has a CHIP. A debit card with a CHIP will work at unmanned point of sale terminals such as petrol stations, ticket kiosks, toll booths and parking payment machines.

    Using prepaid travel money cards

    Preload a travel card with euros and avoid the fees that usually go hand in hand with international purchases. Compare these cards by their ATM fees, initial load and reload fees. Some ATMs in Italy don’t charge an ATM operator fee, by choosing a product which waives the international ATM withdrawal fee, you should have no problem accessing your money at Italian bancomat machines.

    • Tip: A travel card lets you lock in the exchange rate when you transfer funds between different currencies. This feature can be handy if you think it will become more expensive to purchase euros during your trip.

    Using credit cards

    A credit card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard will let you make over the counter purchases without paying any foreign transactions fees. Be aware when it comes to cash advances, as interest will apply immediately when you use your card at an ATM – this should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

    Some travel friendly credit cards also offer perks such as complimentary international travel insurance and purchase protection guarantees.

    • Tip: Make sure you tell your bank about your travel plans, as they may put a block on your account if they see a transaction in another country.

    Using traveler’s checks

    Traveler’s checks have become a financial product of the past. Many banks in Italy will refuse to cash them, so don’t bother with this travel money product.

    Taking cash with you

    Cash is king. Italy is a cash based society compared to other major economies in Europe. You can still use your card in almost as many places as you would in the US and other countries; however, there’s a reluctance among Italians to let go of cash as a method of payment for things like rent, food, clothing and so on.

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    Interview with Frank in Italy

    OurTeam_Frank

    On a trip to Europe, Frank visited Italy on his way to Greece. Coming from France, he visited The Last Supper in Milan, he headed east to see the canals of Venice and then finished his Italian adventure with the Colosseum and Vatican City in Rome.

    What cards did you take with you?

    • Capital One 360 Debit Card
    • Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

    Why did you take these cards?

    Frank uses Capital One 360 for his day to day banking and his The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard racks up points both at home and abroad. He used the Barclaycard for over the counter purchases for the perks of rewards points and the free travel insurance he received when he paid for his return airfare from Europe.

    Frank was able to use his Capital One 360 debit card for free international ATM withdrawals when he needed cash, which he says you will need in Italy.

    Where could you use your cards?

    Frank says that he was able to use his card for most purchases over 20 euros. He stopped at small cafes for coffee, bars for beer and some smaller restaurants quite often – these establishments were cash only.

    Did you use ATMs?

    Frank says he made cash withdrawals frequently in Italy because his debit card gave him free international ATM withdrawals and has no currency conversion fee. Frank heard he might have problems using his card to withdraw cash in Italy, but never ran into a problem.

    What is your travel money recommendation for Italy?

    Frank says you can’t go wrong using a checking account that offers free ATM withdrawals and no fees on foreign transactions.

    Do you have any travel money tips for Italy?

    • Cash prices. Frank says a price can drop if you choose to pay cash over card. It doesn’t hurt to ask how much a purchase would be if you’re paying in cash.
    • Stand to drink. Frank says stand up to drink your coffee. By taking a seat at a cafe or bar, the price can double or triple.
    • Get away from the tourist areas. Especially in Rome, the further away you are from the tourist hot spots, the less you’ll pay.
    • Train speed and prices. Fast trains between cities cost twice as much as the regular train. Frank says he enjoyed taking the slow train because it gave him time to see the countryside – it also cheaper if you book in advance.
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    Buying currency in the US

    There’s no limit to the amount of foreign currency you can bring into the Italy or the eurozone. However, you’re going to have to declare your cash if you’re planning to enter or leave the country with more than 10,000 euros. You have the following options for purchasing euros in the US.

    A quick comparison of bank and non bank providers shows that if you use the foreign cash services of a company like Travelex, you’ll end up with a few extra dollars. Non-bank providers like Travelex have locations in major airports where you can collect your euros before you depart the country.

    Making ATM withdrawals

    The best way to get cash in Italy is to make an ATM withdrawal when you arrive. The Visa or Mastercard exchange rate applies and is better than any rate you’re likely to get exchanging currency at an exchange office or a bank.

    Italian bank ATMs are called bancomats and some do not charge a local ATM operator fee – avoid using independent ATMs. These third party ATMs charge like a wounded bull, it will be obvious which ATMs are affiliated with a bank and which aren’t.

    Tips:

    • Italian bank ATMs generally have a maximum withdrawal limit somewhere between 250 to 300 euros per day and you can select English as a language option when you insert your card.
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    Find travel insurance for your trip to Italy

    It doesn’t matter how cautious you are while traveling, nobody is exempt from the risk of unfortunate losses while traveling. Travel insurance can offer financial protection against such losses as:

    • Trip cancellation charges
    • Lost or stolen valuables
    • Medical emergencies including evacuation and hospital stay
    • Car rental coverage
    • Personal liability

    Use the form below to compare travel insurance quotes from a range of insurers. Get access to exclusive coupon codes.

    Details Features
    Atlas Premium
    Atlas Premium
    Comprehensive coverage with higher limits and a range of additional benefits.
    • Trip cancellation: Not available
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $2,000,000
    • Baggage coverage: $1,000
    • Trip delay: $200/day up to $400
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Travel Max
    Travelex Travel Max
    The most comprehensive protection plan offered by Travelex. Offers optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: $100,000
    • Baggage coverage: $2,500
    • Trip delay: $1,000
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    Coverage includes trip cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance and baggage insurance.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: $15,000
    • Baggage coverage: $750
    • Trip delay: $100/day up to $500
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Standard International
    STA Travel Standard International
    Affordable coverage for the essentials needed when traveling outside of your home country.
    • Trip cancellation: Not available
    • Emergency medical expenses: $25,000
    • Medical evacuation & repatriation: $250,000
    • Trip delay: $100/day up to $250
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    Increased limits of coverage, plus trip interruption insurance worth 150% of the trip cost.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: $50,000
    • Baggage coverage: $1,000
    • Trip delay: $200/day up to $1,000
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Not 100% sure you're going to make your trip? Cancel For Any Reason upgrade is available with the Travel Select plan.
    • Reimburses up to 75% of the insured trip cost
    • Must cancel within 48 hours before scheduled departure
    • Offered on trips with a maximum value of $10,000
    Go to site More info
    Atlas Travel
    Atlas Travel
    Customizable policy that balances between the basic essentials and premium coverage.
    • Trip cancellation: Not available
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $2,000,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $500
    • Trip delay: $100/day up to 2 days
    Go to site More info
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Comprehensive coverage for the cost of your trip, your medical expenses and your belongings.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $250,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $2,500
    • Trip delay: Up to $1,500
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Choose the coverage amount that meets your needs. Baggage and trip delay protection included.
    • Flight accident AD&D: Up to $1,000,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: $10,000
    • Baggage coverage: $1,000
    • Medical evacuation & repatriation: $100,000
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    Premiere coverage for a range of travel mishaps with additional riders for sports and other leisure activities.
    • Trip cancellation: $3,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $100,000
    • Baggage coverage: $500/item up to $2,500
    • Trip delay: $200/day up to $1,000
    Go to site More info
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Make sure you're covered in case your planned trip unexpectedly goes awry.
    • Trip cancellation: $1,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $25,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $1,000
    • Trip interruption: Up to $1,500
    Go to site More info
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    Customizable coverage that can give you peace of mind when traveling to popular or remote destinations.
    • Trip cancellation: $1,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $50,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $2,000
    • Trip interruption: Up to $1,500
    Go to site More info
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    2 Responses

    1. Default Gravatar
      AlbertJanuary 14, 2018

      What’s the most inexpensive best coverage?

      • finder Customer Care
        JoanneJanuary 15, 2018Staff

        Hi Albert,

        Thanks for reaching out.

        Here at finder we are unable to make recommendations, we can offer general advise.
        You can use the table above to compare travel insurance quotes from a range of insurers. The table should allow you to compare features between companies. Should you need additional details, you may go ahead and click on more info or go to site.

        Cheers,
        Joanne

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