Monday, 7 November 2011

Best way to buy Euros in Italy

For American and other visitors to Italy, the most convenient and least expensive way to buy euros is to use a debit card at an ATM (called a "Banc-o-Mat" in Italy). This is also where you will obtain the best rate of exchange. You can withdraw a certain maximum of Euros per withdrawal or per day (determine this before you leave, although it depends both on your bank and the ATM) and your bank will charge a per withdrawal ATM fee from as low as $0.75 up to $5.00 or more, depending on your bank. Some debit cards do not charge fees for international transactions, while most Visa cards and Mastercards charge a 3% transaction fee per withdrawal. Ask about these fees before departure so that you know whether to withdraw a maximum amount infrequently or smaller amounts as needed.

Best way to obtain euros in Italy
 Capital One is reputed to be the only major company to not add on a foreign transaction fee. Almost all other Visa/Mastercards have a total of 3% foreign transaction fees.

It's always a good idea to obtain, say, € 200 in small notes before you leave, so that you don't have to look for an ATM as soon as you arrive.

Try not to use ATMs in large railway stations and crowded places to avoid the problem of pickpockets.

Traveler's Cheques are no longer in common use in Europe. Hardly any shop or hotel will accept them and most banks refuse to take them because of redemption problems.

Try not to use currency exchange offices ("Cambio"). Although somewhat regulated, these places charge huge fees. Up to 20% is not unheard of. If you must exchange bank notes, it's by far best to use a bank. On rare occasions, very good deals are offered in airports but usually it's the opposite. Zurich airport has exchange offices that charge no exchange fee, but this is the exception the proves the rule.

Be sure to let your bank and/or credit card company know that you will be traveling in Europe, (destinations and time periods) so that the anti-fraud protection software does not block your use of the card in Europe.



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