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Best option for Dollars to Euros for apartment payment"

Best option for Dollars to Euros for apartment payment"

Dec 9th, 2013, 11:14 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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My experience in trying to exchange US currency in European banks (admittedly a number of years ago, now) has been very negative. Unless I had an account in that bank they would not give me the time of day, much less Euros. In particular, $100 bills came under intense scrutiny and suspicion; I assume because of counterfeit and illegal money movement considerations.

I second the suggestion that multiple ATM withdrawals is the way to go.
nukesafe is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 11:44 AM
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If you don't want to do multiple ATM withdrawals, then take US$ cash and exchange it at a bureau de change at your arrival airport - though the exchange rate will bite you in the butt.

Most Italian banks will not handle foreign currency for visitors. In the old days, travelers checks or exchanging cash would work. But that is virtually impossible now.
janisj is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 11:47 AM
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I think we'll just go to Chase later this week and have them do the exchange for us and take Euros from here. I'm also considering taking a cash advance against my amex when we arrive even tho we will get charged interest...we will get points!! ))
cmeyer54 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 12:22 PM
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cmeyer54 on Dec 9, 13 at 3:47pm
I'm also considering taking a cash advance against my amex

Amex had a client check cashing service at their offices throughout Europe at one time. I used it regularly, before ATM machines were introduced. Maybe that is still available. I have an Amex card but rarely use it in Europe and never have a need to visit their offices anymore.
spaarne is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 12:45 PM
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It's not true that the 1000-euro limit is only for Italian citizens. There are exceptions for foreigners, but, to be succinct, they apply to retail businesses. I can find the text of the Italian law, if anyone is interested.

More than half the apartment rentals in Rome (and most other cities) are estimated to be illegal. It's hard to get statistics, precisely because they're operating in the shadows. Many cities are cracking down on them, but the renter isn't the one who risks a jail term. I'm starting to hear of more apartment rentals that are beginning to require that the occupants provide a passport, which is one sign the rental is legal. The other evidence is that the renter gets a "fiscal receipt", which should have a tax stamp on it.

My main concern with illegal apartment rentals is that they usually don't meet even the minimum safety requirements of the "affittacamere". In other words, they have no fire exits, no smoke detectors, and no extinguishers. I've stayed in apartments in Italy that had glaring safety issues, such as electrical outlets that were hanging by the wires, and large windows, nearly at floor level, with absolutely no protection to prevent a child from falling out.

I've had the best results renting from a major internet rental agency, such as www.booking.com , which mostly lists hotel rooms and B&Bs, but also has a fairly decent list of apartments.
bvlenci is online now  
Dec 9th, 2013, 12:54 PM
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While some ATMs will allow withdrawal of higher amounts, most ATMs have the 250-euro limit.

I find it offensive to say that most Italians evade taxes "as a matter of honor". Is there any honor in greed? Are you Italian? Some Italians evade taxes, for whatever excuse they can make up for it, and the other Italians are getting angrier and angrier about it.
bvlenci is online now  
Dec 9th, 2013, 12:58 PM
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I had read so many glowing reviews about renting apartments and the benefits that went with them. After this experince, if there is a single, minor glitch in the place, I will post every blog, rant, etc and not rent a flat again! Its not great to be heading into a 'vacation' with trepidation and fear of what we'll see when we arrive. At least with the hotels we've used, there was a level of familiarlity. Yikes
cmeyer54 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 01:39 PM
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As I said, I often rent apartments, because when we travel as a family group, there are too many of us, and we like to share a common space in the evening. I've never had a horror story yet, but there is often something that gives me pause, and it does require a level of research that is much greater than getting a hotel room. One of my main gripes is that I seem to be the only one who is bothered by hair in shower or toothpaste in the sink, so I end up doing more housework than I even do at home, where we have a housekeeper. I like to come back to a hotel room at the end of the day to find the bed made and the bathroom cleaned.

Some people love renting apartments, saying it makes them feel as though they live in the place they're visiting. I've never really got my thrills from pretending to live in Paris; when I travel, I want to visit museums, walk in parks, or explore out-of-the-way neighborhoods; every half hour I spend shopping for paper towels takes me away from the reasons why I travel.

We're renting an apartment in London for a week very soon; I've never rented an apartment there before. Apartment rentals in London always require full payment in advance. I paid by bank tranfer, which means we don't need to carry cash, but it also means we have no leverage if we find the place to be not as advertised.

I think you've done the right thing by deciding to get the euros for the rental payment in the US. Almost no bank in Italy will change money for anyone except their own customers. You absolutely shouldn't bring dollars unless you have an agreement with the agent that this would be acceptable. Changing dollars would require the owner to use the services of a bank, which is something he may be trying to avoid, for the reasons mentioned above. Just be sure to carry the money in a secure pouch under your clothing.
bvlenci is online now  
Dec 9th, 2013, 02:00 PM
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I apologize, Bvlenci, if I was insulting in implying there is honor in Italians evading taxes. My statement comes from limited conversations with those of your country who openly have bragged to me about how they manage to screw the tax man. They seemed to consider both the Government and especially the tax collectors as an evil force that should be scorned, and "Nobody who is smart pays taxes" seemed to be their justification.

I of course take your word that these folks are a vanishing minority in Italy, and that the vast majority of your countrymen cheerfully contribute every Euro cent they owe to the governmental coffers.
nukesafe is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 03:15 PM
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I think the issue is not renting an apartment or not renting an apartment but who you rent from. There are more online sites all the time that take credit cards for rentals all over the world and especially in Europe. So the problem is not renting a place but renting a place from an owner that hasn't joined the party. Eventually they'll have to as no one will be willing to go to the bother you're describing. Maybe too late this time but go with an online agency next time, pay with your credit card and forget it.
MmePerdu is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 03:30 PM
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I think one of the problems is the large sum of money you need. I've rented apartments where I had to pay upon arrival (minus some advance deposit) but didn't have any trouble because I never rented a place that cost that much. I never needed more than about 800 euro.

I don't know if your plans are set, but one way I handle this is to arrive the day before, then just book in whatever cheap decent hotel is closest to the apt. I did that once out of necessity as the apt wasn't ready the day I wanted, but I actually liked it as it makes arrival easier. For one thing, if you arrive very early, you can check into a hotel and often can't check into an apt until afternoon. Then you have at least 2 days to get some money out of ATMs. So if you haven't made your flight reservations, you could consider that.

Also, I have two ATM cards and I'm only one person. I have two different bank accounts, one my checking and one a separate MM savings account. So then I could get maybe 500-700 with each card. I think my bank has a $1000 limit, actually, or about 700 euro. So you could certainly have at least two bank accounts. I opened a Cap One MM account just for that reason, to get another ATM card, and not have all my money in one bank.
Christina is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 04:50 PM
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500 euro per transaction, not per day. We withdrew 2000 euro from a single ATM in 15 minutes. In Italy.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 05:16 PM
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Peter_S_Aus on Dec 9, 13 at 8:50pm
500 euro per transaction, not per day. We withdrew 2000 euro from a single ATM in 15 minutes. In Italy.

That's what you call quick draw. So much for protecting accounts against theft.
spaarne is offline  
Dec 9th, 2013, 05:22 PM
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Yes, I'm with Peter. I find most of the ATM's I've used have a E400 limit per transaction. But I've just done 3 transactions at the same machine.

cmeyer- I'm just wondering how you found this apartment. Because I agree that once you find an agency you trust, renting apartments is much easier. I've had great experiences with both RentalinRome and SleepInItaly. I would gladly rent from either agency again. And they have plenty of options.

I hope this won't sour your experience and I hope the apartment is as advertised. (An agency is a benefit in that if something is wrong with the unit- say no hot water-- they can move you to another unit usually.)

Buon viaggio! Don't let the cash thing spoil your vacation! Try to think of it as a slight annoyance- nothing more.
sarge56 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2013, 06:52 AM
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I would suggest it is now time to take a step back and look at what has been written so far.

First, acknowledge that the reason people rent apartments is to spend less money. Sure it's convenient for a family, etc. but all of that is simply icing on the cake. People rent privately to spend less money.

That comes at a price of another kind however as you have found out cmeyer54. It's a lot easier to pick a hotel and make a reservation. It's also a lot easier to pay conveniently. You have CHOSEN to take the risk and accept the hassle of renting an apartment. You may re-think that next time.

You have also discovered that how much less you will spend is not as much as you thought it would be. Chances are that if you buy Euros at home it will cost you as much as 8% more than it would have if you used a good credit card to pay. Good meaning, one with no exchange loading.

Here is something else for you to discover if you plan to do much travelling in future. American Express is NOT a card a traveller would use for anything when travelling. They have one of the WORST exchange rates you can find. I never understand why anyone would have an Amex card these days. Credit and debit cards have long surpassed them in convenience (more accepted worldwide) and cost of using them.

Regarding the comments re a bank will not accept dollars, poppycock. While a small branch in a small village may act in an arbitrary manner because they are afraid your $100 bills are counterfit (the US currency is one of the easiest to counterfit still), a major branch in Rome is another story.

Do you people realize how banks make money? One way is exchanging cash. Yes, an amazing concept no doubt. Look in th window of a bank in Rome and you will SEE the exchange board showing the prices at which they will buy and sell foreign currency. Not just to someone with an account but to anyone with proper identification. ie. your passport.

I have no idea where this idea that a bank won't exchange foreign currency came from but it is nonsense. Just as it is nonsense you cannot change Euro into Dollars in a bank in the USA. Yes, a bank in Podunk, Iowa may refuse to exchange them but a major bank in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc. will happily exchange them, they do it every day for tourists. Rome is not in a third world country.

Carrying Euro in cash from the USA has the same risks as carrying dollars in cash. Exchanging dollars to Euro in the USA will cost more than exchanging them in Rome.

Bottom line, cmeyer54, the best way to handle money is with credit and debit cards. ANY other way costs you more and adds a hassle factor. At this point, I can understand why you would just through up your hands in defeat and say, 'screw it I'll buy Euros here, I don't care what it costs me.'

My advice to you for future travel is this. Get good credit and debit cards with no exchange loading. Do not book/reserve anything you cannot pay for with those cards.

Mmeperdu has it right. You can find places to rent that DO take credit cards either directly (on arrival) or through an online third party booking company. Not only will you get the best exchange rate but the further advantage of being able to claim through Visa/MC if things are not as they should be when you get there. Visa/MC provides 'free insurance' in effect on any purchase you make using your card.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Dec 10th, 2013, 07:23 AM
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I have spent the last 25 years of my life more or less as a sojourner (temporary resident) in many countries. My 'legal' residence is in the Cayman Islands although I don't spend more than perhaps 6 weeks a year there. Sometimes I live on my boat (Hunter Passage 42), sometimes I take up temporary residence in a country for a while, a month, a few years.

The point being that I use credit/debit cards almost exclusively to handle my finances every day. Most of the time, the cards I am using are not from the country I am in. I have cards from Canada, the UK, Switzerland and the Caymans. I am not the average tourist who takes a trip now and then. Consequently, I have had to find out how best to handle money when travelling to a greater extent than the average person.

I have spent countless hours researching foreign exchange and all the ramifications it involves. How to move large amounts at the lowest cost (forex companies) and how to make the smallest purchases at the lowest cost(the RIGHT credit/debit cards).

On occassion, circumstances have required me to carry and exchange cash. Large amounts and small amounts. With large amounts I have walked into banks and negotiated an exchange rate. The rate shown in their window is the rate for the average tourist exchanging a few hundred dollars. Walk in with $20k and you can negotiate a better rate. I did that once for example, in the UK, when I needed to pay for the car in my profile picture in cash. I went to 3 different banks in Manchester, all a few doors apart and asked for their best offer. All 3 banks offered me better than the posted exchange.

On another occasion in a small town in the Alsace region of France, the ATM at the only bank was not working. I wanted to buy a rotisserie chicken at the farmer's market in the village. I walked into the bank (the only bank)and asked them to exchange a Canadian $20 bill. They had to get out big binders with pictures of all the foreign currency and compare the pictures to the $20 bill I handed them. They took a photocopy of my passport. After much consultation between 3 or 4 bank employees, they exchange my $20 for Euros. It was more hassle for them than for me.

Travel forums are full of people who have very limited experience in how to handle money when travelling. Some people do travel extensively and do have more experience but may still be using less than the best means of handling their money. They THINK they know but they do not. Foreign exchange is complex but it is not complicated.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Dec 10th, 2013, 07:33 AM
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What is more scary is I used to own a gold coloured TR7 soft top that looks a lot like yours. Is yours a V6?
bilboburgler is online now  
Dec 10th, 2013, 08:05 AM
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While this is the first time and likely the last that I have or will try to rent an apartment, it is not our first time to Europe (upwards of 16 trips). This is our first trip, however, in several years with our now adult children. Suddenly a lovely hotel room became two lovely hotel rooms. that is what prompted the idea of an apartment. It would have more space as well as the option to eat in if necessary over the holidays. i did not take into consideration italian banking regulations, the fact that arriving on a saturday would mean banks are closed, we only use one bank and don't want to open additional accounts to have access to mutiple ATM's, etc. At this point, we'll head back to the Westin and enjoy the trip.
cmeyer54 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2013, 08:35 AM
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Almost no one gets it right the first time. We get better at everything as we do it more. It would be a shame if you discarded future opportunities to stay in apartments because you didn't know everything about the process first time around. If you love hotels, fine. But if a variety of experiences appeals to you then try it again and use an agency, online or otherwise, that makes payment easy and that hurdle is behind you.

I use Airbnb in part because payment is as simple as it's possible to be, in dollars, no messing about with exchange or being charged a fee to have it converted to Euros by most credit card companies.

As an example here are their apartment offerings in Rome, use filters at the top to more easily locate what you're looking for:
MmePerdu is offline  
Dec 10th, 2013, 09:04 AM
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duceusetc: <>

Not true. Apartments offer more privacy and a chance to cook if you want to. And you do get more for your money. A villa in the countryside, another form of self-catering accommodation, would be far superior to a country hotel, especially for a group.

I've rented apartments in cities and country villas with a group. In each of the latter cases, we hired a cook to prepare one or more dinners.

But I always rent through a recommended agency and pay with a credit card.
Mimar is offline  

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