Everyone wants cash - What do we do?

Feb 19th, 2013, 09:07 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 40
Everyone wants cash - What do we do?

We are a few days away from our 10-day trip to Italy. And it seems as though everyone wants cash -- from our apartment rental owners, to our driver, to our first cooking class...

When we arrive in Florence on Saturday (at 8:30 pm) we need to pay the renters 1000 euros - cash (we rented through VRBO). Then, we need to pay a driver 140 euros and then the final payment for a cooking class of 500 euros.

Are banks open on Sundays? Or do we just keep going to the ATMs? Is it safe to travel to Italy with 1000 euros cash (not to mention what we might need for other items en route - we are traveling with four children).

I'm just not sure how to manage all these cash payments.

Please help!
Chinos4sons is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 09:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Use the ATMs. Ask your bank to increase your daily limit if you have a low withdrawal limit.

Get enough cash at the airport to get into town and then get more just before you check into the apartment (assuming the apartment is in town where there will be lots of ATMs. Take your luggage to the apartment and one person can have the agent/owner explain the apartment while the other person goes to get the cash. You'll only have lots of cash on you for a few minutes.

Are you taking the cooking class the day your arrive? Probably not. Get cash just before the class begins.

I would not walk around any where, even my small home town, with that much money.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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Call or visit your bank.


Explain how many ATM cards you have (I assume one for each adult), that you will be in Italy in a few days, and exactly what payments in Euros you need to make and when. Tell them to temporarily raise the limit on daily withdrawals. Then each of you should be able to withdraw 600 Euros at the airport and then get more before your cooking class (assuming it isn't on arrival day).

Your cash will be pretty safe as you'll be hyper-aware of how much cash you're carrying - I doubt you'll leave your purse and wallets lying around or in any situation where it could be grabbed.

Apartment renters on the Fodor's Europe forum (including me) do this all the time. The first time can be a little nerve wracking, though...
bardo1 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 09:21 AM
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Yup, ATMs. You can hit up successive ones, and if more than one of you is traveling you can each/all make withdrawals. Taking 1000 euros with you in cash is the worst option; it's risky and you'll likely pay hefty exchange charges on this side of the ocean.
StCirq is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 11:27 AM
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Going against fellow-Fodorites advice, when I rented an apartment in Positano last June, I took enough euro with me to pay the apartment. It was just one more thing I didn't want to worry about and the nominal fee charged by my bank was worth it for my piece of mind. But that is a price that only you know whether or not you are willing to pay.

Once I got to the airport in Rome, I hit the ATM to get me enough money to pay the taxi, groceries, etc. The first ATM didn't work, but I eventually found one that did and everything went fine.

ATM's are definitely the way to go to get cash while you are in Italy. Just be sure to use one that is attached to a bank, so if something happens to your card (which happened to my friend on our last trip) you can go into the bank and they can retrieve it.
ekc is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 11:46 AM
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In my experience only so many euros could be pulled from one machine at a time (250?). Are you all suggesting just move to the next machine? (And does that work?)

If not, I think you can still get travelers checks. (only half kidding).

OP: Can you wire the 1000e instead? I did that with my apartment in Paris. Caveat: I did this on my own through my online banking system and it canceled all my outgoing bill pays thinking it was a fraud transaction (but I rescheduled them).
Bitter is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 11:53 AM
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Yes, you just go to another machine. Traveler's checks are useless, even if you can find them or even find a place to cash them, and no landlord or cooking school is going to touch them. Plus, you pay through the nose on both ends for them. Wire transfers are expensive, and the person on the other end in Europe usually has to pay a fee to deposit the money.

I've never known a bank that charged only a "nominal" fee for anything, much less a foreign currency transaction. The whopping fees are always there, just hidden, and the tellers never have a clue what those fees really are.
StCirq is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 12:23 PM
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Heed bardo's advice and visitor at least contact your bank, now, as it can take a day to two for changes to be in effect. You should have informed them already of your plan to travel and use your card overseas.
Some banks will temporarily raise the daily limit on ATM withdrawals, some will not. If you have multiple family members listed on an account they can usually each withdraw up to the daily limit.
If you have more than one bank account (we use a bank and a credit union) you can withdraw from both. The credit union, while incredibly customer friendly in most ways, absolutely refuses to raise the daily ATM limit.
Bottom line is that there is no sure way to know until you ask your bank.
Seamus is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 12:27 PM
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If you really have to pay the cooking class in full the day of arrival, I don't think it would be terrible to at least take that amount with you (and you will probalby have to pay the driver immediately, you can't hunt for an ATM). Sure, you will pay more by getting it through your bank, but it may be worth it and just an expense that you must have since you arrange things this way.

But I'd suggest you have more than one ATM account and card and do it that way. I have two and I'm only one person, it isn't difficult to get two different accounts (I have my regular bank one and then a separate account that is by mail/online for a money market account by Capital One bank).

Banks aren't open on Sundays even in the US. Even if they were, I don't know what good that would do you as you wouldn't have an account with them. YOu can't go into a bank and get cash if you aren't a customer of theirs.

It depends on your idea of nominal, I think lots of banks in the US charge around 7 pct to get foreign money, that isn't whopping to me. Some might charge less, you can always find out. I don't think taking 500-1000 euro with you in cash is the worst option myself, but it depends on your banking arrangements and how soon you need this money. I have higher limits than some people on my ATM cards, my bank just has a limit of around $750 or $1000 normally.
Christina is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 12:35 PM
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I just started a thread with the same question, sorry I didn't see this before I posted. The replies here are very helpful.
Jinky is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 12:39 PM
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>>>When we arrive in Florence on Saturday (at 8:30 pm) we need to pay the renters 1000 euros - cash (we rented through VRBO). Then, we need to pay a driver 140 euros and then the final payment for a cooking class of 500 euros.<<<

I would be surprised someone needing to pay all of that at 8:30 pm on arrival. I wouldn't think you would be taking a cooking class that late at night or hiring a driver (the airport is 15 minutes from the center and taxis are a fixed rate of 20€ or the shuttle bus is 6€).

kybourbon is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 12:57 PM
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. Four years ago, the limit was 250 euro in a single withdrawal form an ATM. We found in Venice two years ago that we could withdraw 500 euro at a time from an ATM, and that we could make more withdrawals from the same ATM.

Just make sure that your home bank knows that you will be in Italy, so that the computer does not block your card. We’re lucky with some banks in Aus – when you log onto the bank website, there is an automated system where you can advise the bank of your travels.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 01:07 PM
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St.Cirq, I am a Wells Fargo customer and they have no service fees for getting euros. The extra cost comes in WF's exchange rate. Today the general exchange rate is $1.33 per euro. WF's exchange rate today is $1.40 per euro. If I am getting 1000 euro, then the cost is $70 - if the ATM that I would withdraw it from is actually using the general exchange rate of $1.33 per euro, which is doubtful.

For me, it was worth it to spend up to $70 to have the funds on me to pay my apartment in full after arriving tired from an international flight from the west coast. But that's just me - maybe the OP would be willing to play ATM roulette and save the $70.
ekc is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 01:14 PM
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I was faced with this in Paris. I asked the landlord if he accepted PayPal, and, voila, he did! He had not advertised that fact, but when I asked he was happy to oblige. You don't know until you ask.....
jane1144 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 01:54 PM
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<< if the ATM that I would withdraw it from is actually using the general exchange rate of $1.33 per euro, which is doubtful. >>

On my last 2 or 3 European trips I checked my ATM receipts against the amount withdrawn from my bank and the rate was just about at the rate shown on the currency exchange sites. If the current rate was 1.33 then I perhaps paid 1.33 or 1.34.

If the ATM limit is E250 per withdrawal, you take your card out and then do another transaction.

On my first reading of the original post I missed that the OP is arriving in the evening. So there is no possibility of doing a cooking class that night. No need to worry about the cash charges due until the day of the class.

I had a similar situation to jane1144 - for my Paris apartment, which required paying the balance in cash, I asked if I could pay using a credit card and was told that I could.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 02:33 PM
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Ditto on inquiring about PayPal--some landlords have simply never tried it, but, when presented with the opportunity to get paid in advance, a lot of them are willing to give it a try.

I would not depend on ATM's on arrival for that much cash unless I had multiple account owners with different banks. Too many times, I've seen folks have temporary difficulties getting cash on arrival. If you've got more than one account, at more than one bank, then it's a safer bet. But, if you're not in position to do that, then I'd consider taking over a chunk of the required cash with you.
twk is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 03:11 PM
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To buck the herd, I take 2,500 to 3000 Euro with me, under my clothes in a secure pouch and then I do not have to worry about cash when I land. I get the money from my Credit Union and they charge me the daily exchange rate. It has worked fine for me for 10 years.
jkbritt is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 04:19 PM
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>>>if the ATM that I would withdraw it from is actually using the general exchange rate of $1.33 per euro, which is doubtful.<<

The ATM's I've used in Europe have nothing to do with the exchange rate my bank is giving me. Your bank determines your exchange rate. You are not asking the ATM for $$$, you are telling the ATM how much euro you want and it spits it out. No matter what bank account you have, if you ask the ATM for 300€, you get 300€.

My credit union always gave me the interbank rate (no mark up at all) until a year or so ago when they started charging 1% above the interbank rate. You can check your bank statement when you get home as it's listed on there. You can then go on any of the exchange websites such as XE or Oanda and do a history search for actual interbank rates for that day. Compare the history rate for each date of transaction against what is on your statement to see your actual exchange rate.
kybourbon is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 04:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2013
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There are pros and cons for both. Yes, getting money ahead of time costs a bit more, but peace of mind is worth something, and if you're spending thousands on a trip, it's really not too significant in the big picture.

I say this, not because I have money to burn, but because I have almost been burned. In 2009, on a London trip, my ATM card would not work at ANY ATM machine. and despite repeated calls to their international number, where I was assured that "there is no problem with the card, it must be the machine," it would not work ANYWHERE in the UK for the entire two weeks!

Fortunately, my daughter's card (different bank)did work, and my DH, who we left behind, made the appropriate transfers into her account so that we could get money without having to do a cash advance on a credit card. Since then, I have ALWAYS gotten the currency that I know I will need immediately, ahead of time.

I order it through Wells Fargo. https://www.wellsfargo.com/foreignexchange/
darlenef17 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
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We always take a lot if cash. We arrived in Peru and the airline charged us a hefty fee in CASH wiping out all if our reserve. They would not accept a credit card or ATM for the charge. When we arrived at our hotel, the power went out and we could not access the only ATM in town for three days. You are not going to Peru, of course, but now where ever we go we take a large amount of cash just in case.
cjon is offline  

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