How to Pay in Italy????

Old Apr 15th, 2007, 10:04 AM
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How to Pay in Italy????

I am leaving in a few days for a ten day trip to the Tuscany region. I was told not to use my credit card because they charge an additional 2-3% for "conversion rate" charge, whatever that means--should I take travelers cheques to cover expenses? I also heard that the best thing to do is go to an ATM when I land and withdraw cash(euros), but how hard are they to use (I don't know any Italian). What is the best way to pay for things in Italy?? thanks!
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 10:25 AM
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Everybody will charge some type of conversion fee, you will never get the exchange rate you see in the paper. Even with a 2-3% conversion fee, paying with credit cards beats the heck out of using traveler's checks. The commission you will pay to cash traveler's checks will be 7-10%, and they are not as easy to cash in Europe as in the US. You could take traveler's checks in USD as a back-up to your ATM card, but odds are you will bring all of your traveler's checks back home.

ATMs are by far the best way to get your cash. They are just as simple to use as the ATMs in the US and the machine will give you an option for instructions in English. Be sure to notify your bank you will be using the ATMs in Italy so they won't flag your account for irregular activity.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 10:31 AM
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If you can find Traveler's checks in euro for NO CHARGE for conversion, then go ahead, but I've never heard of them available for less than 4 to 7% conversion charge if purchased in euro, not counting possible charges for cashing them.

ATM's are very easy to use and you do not need to speak any Italian. Press English or the UK flag symbol and go ahead. Depending on possible charges from your own bank, that is probably the cheapest way to get euros in Europe. That 2-3% charge on your credit card however, depends on what bank's card you have. That may be true or it may not be true, but regardless there aren't many ways of getting euros for less than that, with the possible exception of the ATMs.

If you spend $1000 on your credit card, is $30 too much to pay for that convenience? Only you can answer that.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 10:33 AM
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Just for clarification--I was speaking of TC's in USD, Patrick is speaking of TC's in €. In either case, the ATM is best.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 10:39 AM
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"I was told not to use my credit card because they charge an additional 2-3% for "conversion rate" charge, whatever that means--should I take travelers cheques to cover expenses?"

Whoever told you this is basically right. There will be a % tacked on - but they are wrong to say not to use a cc because of it. EVERY method of paying has some fee attached. The lowest fees are w/ credit cards and ATM cards. Travelers checks cost more. And exchanging currency costs the most.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 10:45 AM
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Ah yes, PM's post wasn't there when I started mine, but got sidetracked. Either way with TCs you pay a big conversion fee -- either to buy them in a foreign currency at home, or else to cash the foreign (US) ones while in Europe. They are a no win situation.

Although I'd agree with some who suggest you carry a few US TC's for an emergency and if you don't use them just cash them in back home -- then you won't have paid anything if you got them free, because there was never a currency conversion on them.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 11:00 AM
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There was NO place in Italy that took travelers checks, which I had purchased in euro denominations prior to my trip last year. This was true in all the big cities (and hotels), too. I finally had to pay huge fees, twice, to convert them, one time at a bank and one time at a travel agency and in both cases it took forever. I would suggest instead that you keep 150-200$ US dollars in your money belt for an emergency and, when you first get cash from an ATM in Italy, stash 100 euro in there as well. Spend that on the last couple days of your trip, if you (hopefully!) haven't needed it. ATMs are everywhere, while Italian banks are very different than ours- it's not like you zip in and out of them and make a quick transaction! You're better off taking out up to the limit of what you are allowed (MONEY BELT!!!)than making repeated smaller withdrawals.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 11:14 AM
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Or get some euros at your bank. By the time you leave on your trip, you might have made money!!!!
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 11:51 AM
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Personally I don't think this is necessary, but if you want to buy a few €'s in the US to get started that's OK, some people like having money in their pocket when they arrive. But be advised that exchange fees to buy €s in the US are about the same as I mentioned above, which is around 7-10%. If the USD drops by 7-10% after you buy €s in the US, then yes, you have made money. But let's hope that doesn't happen.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 12:50 PM
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I just returned from Spain last week and I believe the money situation is universal throughout Europe. Don't use travelers checks-the additional fees are high. If you want to get a small amount of Euros from your bank or airport in the US in advance, just don't get too much. The exchange rate in the US is over 1.4 and it varies in Europe at an ATM machine from 1.26-1.38. Certain ATM machines don't charge additional fees, but there will be a small charge from your bank. Also, certain charge cards (expecially ones that say Cirrus on them) don't have additional fees to use them. If you are buying something at a store and the salesperson offers to convert the amount into dollars, decline the offer. Keep it in Euros because they will charge a fee to convert it to dollars. It is better to wait to get your credit card statement, because usually you will do better when the credit card company converts it to dollars.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 01:19 PM
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Hi G,

FYI for your next trip, Capital One doesn't add a 3% conversion fee.

Many banks add the 3% conversion fee to your ATM/debit card as well.

I suggest that you charge everything you can and use your ATM card for getting cash.

If you convert about $100 to Euro at your departure airport, it will cost about $4 more than getting Euros in Italy.

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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 02:17 PM
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Check with your bank as to the fees. We have accounts at two different banks. One charges a 2% fee while the other charges 3%. Also, when you do use the ATM, take out as much as you can or feel comfortable with. That way you pay less in out-of-system ATM charges. Since we have a Capitol One card and they don't charge fees, we'll charge what we can.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 03:25 PM
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If one can buy euros travellers cheques with no commission (which I can), one can take them to the american express office in (say) rome, they'd cash them with no extra fees, that is, at face value.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 03:33 PM
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Phatfree: What country are you in? Unless you live in the euro-zone, it is fairly unlikely you can get € TCs w/o a commission. It is most likely built into the exchange rate.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 03:45 PM
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canada
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 03:48 PM
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We've been round and round w/ this. Last week another canadian was sure she didn't pay a commission - but in the end figured out she was paying a terrible exchange rate for her "fee free" € travelers checks.

What rate are they quoting you?
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 03:56 PM
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look for my answer tomorrow...i'll check with my bank again.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 04:05 PM
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I spent a semester abroad in Italy and traveled all over -- I agree with the others to ditch the Travelers Cheques. Use credit cards or cash where ever you like. I think that using an American Express have more favorable exchange rates, but I'm not completely certain. And the ATMs work the same, whether you can understand the instructions or not: swipe/dip/insert your card, enter PIN, and enter how much you'd like to take out. I don't recall the Italian word for "withdrawl" (as opposed to making a deposit) but I know I didn't have a problem figuring it out. I do remember when I was preparing to go that I was told to make certain that my PIN was 4 digits -- if not, check with your bank, because you could have an issue.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 03:44 PM
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Hi, I just got off the phone with a bank rep. Here are the figures for 1000 euros in canadian $.

As of april 16/07, 1800 hours

*interbank rate: 1,531.18
http://www.xe.com/ucc/convert.cgi

* cash: 1,563.20
http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/RBC:
Re4DyI71A8UAAoBaUuk/cgi-bin/travel
/fxconvert.pl

* travellers cheques: 1,562.00
+ 1%/2% of cdn $ value
signature fee

* ATM: 1,596.20
+ $5.00 per trans fee

* credit card: (going rate, "a bit
lower than ATM rate") + 2.5% foreign
trans fee

So looking at these figures, i'd say buying travellers cheques (1.9% over interbank rate) looks best if commission free (in my case).




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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 04:10 PM
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Except phatfree I think you are going to have a problem cashing in those traveler checks. Read the other posts here regarding travelers checks.

I hope you got your questions answered gailk14.
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