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Cash and ATM tips? Fees? Traveler checks? Need advice.

Cash and ATM tips? Fees? Traveler checks? Need advice.

Old Nov 17th, 2013, 04:46 PM
  #1  
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Cash and ATM tips? Fees? Traveler checks? Need advice.

We are headed to Italy (Venice and Rome) over the holidays. Am reading so many different opinions on the above. Additionally, what banks have ATM's there? Should we open an account with them in the US? We have Bank of America which is NOT there.

I don't read much about travelers checks, which my husband wants to use. Seems now it is more getting cash at ATM oriented.

Which banks have lower fees and better money exchange rates? (seems Capitol One and Chase get mentioned).

I know we will need to pay off our apt in Rome in cash. I think Venice takes credit cards.

Just looking for SMART ways to deal with all this from those with more recent experience. How best to NOT get ripped off with any more fees than I have to!

Many thanks!
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 04:49 PM
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Oh yes, forgot to ask, is carrying a copy of your passport good enough, or is it actually safer ON me? We are in an apartment rented through respected companies. Don't know about safes in the apt.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 04:52 PM
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No American banks have retail branches in Italy. But use your current debit/ATM card or open an account in a credit union which often have the lowest fees.

Travelers check are a TERRIBLE idea - few places take them. Even banks won't cash them.

Use credit cards when practical and use your ATM card when you need cash.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 05:20 PM
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You'll need a strategy for both ATM cards (for cash withdrawals) and for credit cards (for charging).

You'll want to find a bank or credit union that offers an ATM card that refunds transaction fees when withdrawals are made from an ATM not owned by them. BofA doesn't charge fees for transactions made in Italy at BNL Gruppo BNP Paribas.

Some credit cards don't charge foreign exchange fees (Capitol One and many Chase cards). The language you want to find is "no foreign exchange fees" which can be as high as 3%. Bonus points for getting a card with zero annual fees (i.e., Capitol One).
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 05:20 PM
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Forget travelers' checks, they are relics from a distant past, like making a phone call through an operator or sending a telegram to confirm a hotel reservation.

Tell your bank, that one where you have your checking account that is linked to your debit card, where you're going and when, so that they lift the security limitations for foreign transactions. Do it twice, and if on the second occasion they say "we already have that in our system", then say Thank You and be happy...

Also make sure you have a generous daily withdrawal limit in case you need a lot of cash for an emergency (cash still speaks louder than anything else) (and a good balance in the account of course...)..

Once in Europe, withdraw good chunks of cash now and then, in Euros. The small fee that your bank will charge (a few bucks at a time, and not a percentage of your withdrawal) won't add up to much if you don't take out tiny sums every day. You get the best possible exchange rate this way.

Pay with your credit card where it makes sense, you also get good exchange rates that way, but don't let anyone talk you into accepting an already-converted charge in US Dollars - insist that the charge is put through in Euros (your bank will then convert into US Dollars at a much better rate than a merchant would) - don't sign a charge slip if it's in US Dollars.

Capital One and a few others waive the ATM fees, so that saves you a few bucks, but as I said, if you withdraw goodly amounts, not piddly amounts, only now and then, the fees don't add up to much.

Learn about safe ways to carry your cash and cards, don't carry wallets in back pockets and such - take this seriously, look at advice at www.ricksteves.com and others.

When you walk around, carry some loose cash in a chest pocket that's quick for you to access but harder for a pickpocket, then when you make a minor purchase, you don't have to reach for your wallet and show the world where you keep the good stuff. Because the world will be watching, that's just how it is. Prepare, then relax while being smart about it.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 07:57 PM
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ATM fees with most banks have now gone up to 3%. Bank of America also charges an additional $5 per transaction. If you have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, then use it.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 10:05 PM
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ATM fees as a percentage of the amount taken out? Never seen that one. Which bank? Can you quote the rules etc? That would amount to egregious sums. Waiting for substantiation.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 10:14 PM
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Try this one for substantiation, Michelhuebeli. YOu have been living in dreamland if you think those bandit banks would not slip it to you if they could.

http://www.cardhub.com/edu/currency-exchange-study/
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 10:25 PM
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mm & Michel,
This may help http://flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php...reign_Exchange
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 10:33 PM
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That's a much better reference than mine, Henry. Thanks for supplying it.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 10:55 PM
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LOL Travelers checks. What is this? 1983?
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 10:57 PM
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Bank of America folks might want to recheck their information. BoA now charges 3% at DeutscheBank ATMs so you might want to make sure that the partner banks in Italy (and elsewhere in Europe) didn't get the same fate.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 11:09 PM
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Take multiple cards - both debit & credit - so that if one goes wrong you have a backup

Have the overseas contact number of your bank, passwords & security question answers

Use only Visa & Mastercard - AmEx & Diners Club aren't gnerally accepted, Discover not at all.

Stuff a couple of large denomination USD in the bottom of your bag as ultimate backup
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 12:08 AM
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Ditto on forgetting travelers checks. Take 100 euros with you to cover first day/arrival at airport/taxi. Only withdraw cash from ATMs attached to banks during open hours, using your DEBIT card. Use your CREDIT card for most expenses such as dining, tours. You should not need much cash except in small tabacs for postcards, or at kiosks, etc. You will need your passport if making purchases expensive enough to quality for VAT refund, but you can do this upon leaving at the airport (as the day I found my gorgeous handbag wasnt carrying my passport, so completed forms at airport, and yes, couple months later the credit appeared on my Mastercard). Cannot rationalize the concern with a couple dollars in exchange rates for the convenience to have cash with you securely upon arrival to get you through a few days at least!
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 01:24 AM
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In many parts of Europe you have to (mandatory) carry your ID card. In your case it would be a passport. Just carrying a photocopy of the document means nothing. However, Italy, being Italy, you can carry a photocopy as long as you can provide a policeman etc with the real thing in 12 hours or so. (who wants to go through the whole thing of going off to the police station to queue to show the real thing?)

I would (and do) carry the real thing and leave a photocopy in the appartment.
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 06:13 AM
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Returned in Oct 2013 from Rome, Florence and Venice. Our credit card company (USAA) advised us to obtain a card with a chip and a pin to use when purchasing items. They were right! Most restaurants and shops used the card with a chip and there were no problems. Also, Bancorp has ATMs all around Italy. In regards to their fees (reimbursed by USAA) - they seemed reasonable. We had no problems with any ATM transactions.
In regards to travelers cheques, ditto on the above - best to keep to cash or credit. On my husband's previous Italy trip, they would not accept the travelers cheques. If you belong to AAA, you can go online and order some euros prior to departure at a fairly good exchange rate. That way you have something to get you to your hotel without paying the high fees at the airport. The rate and fee at a AAA store location was very high (do not recommend.)
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 08:54 AM
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>>reimbursed by USAA
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 09:29 AM
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"ATM fees as a percentage of the amount taken out? Never seen that one"

It's not an ATM fee. It's a foreign currency conversion fee.

Don't bother with buying (expensive) foreign currency before you leave, use an ATM on arrival at the airport.
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 09:36 AM
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yes, that term was confusing, it's the foreign transaction fee and many ATM cards charge 3 pct markup, just like many US credit cards do. The actual ATM fee for using it is a flat rate.
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 09:47 AM
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nukesafe, that's no substantiation of the statement I was questioning - it was "ATM fees with most banks have now gone up to 3%"- there is simply no substance to the claim that ATM withdrawals are subject to a 3 percent fee.
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