Money Madness


Aug 25th, 2003, 05:28 PM
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Money Madness

We need advice! With the current exchange rate is it better to take cash ( travelers checks) or use a credit card not only for larger items, but also to get walking around money during our trip to Italy?
pillola is offline  
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Aug 25th, 2003, 05:41 PM
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I suggest that you take a few travelers checks for back up. It may be difficult to cash them. This forum gave me the best idea of asking your debit card to increase the daily cash allotment. We always find that our card's daily charge limit is not a problem, but the $200 a day cash limit has to be planned out and worked around. The exchange rate is simply what it is, unless you want to get cash up front. Have a grand time!
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Aug 25th, 2003, 05:42 PM
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Where do you plan on using traveler's checks. I found them hard to use at a restaurant or a department store.
I ended up going to a bank and paying a good rate.
Conventional wisdom on this forum says don't rely on them. Charge what you can and use an aTM card at a bank for folding money. You can withdraw small amounts to fit your needs. I don't like to walk around with bulging pockets full of euro notes.

I have followed that strategy in France, Finland, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland with good success. I do have a couple of checks as an emergency reserve, but some of my reserve have been to Europe twice.

DO NOT USE A CREDIT CARD FOR CURRENCY WITHDRAWALS. Why? You pay a cash advance fee and finance charges because using a credit card is a cash advance.
You don't use a credit card for currency withdrawals at home do you??
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Aug 25th, 2003, 05:43 PM
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My suggestion involves a 3-part plan.

1. Arrive with enough local currency to get from the airport to your hotel without having to change money or use an ATM. That means paying a premium price here in the US, but I feel it's worth it. Also carry a few hundred dollars in US currency which could be changed if necessary. (If the possibility of losing this amount makes you nervous, put it in traveler's checks.)

2. Use a credit card whenever you can, assuming that you pay off your balance in full each month.

3. Use an ATM card to get cash for walking around money. Your ATM card will have some network symbols on it, like Star, Cirrus, Plus. All you have to do is find a bank machine in Italy with one of those symbols and the rest is very easy.

Do check with your bank to be sure your ATM card will work in Italy (and to tell them you will be using it there!). It should have a 4-digit PIN (not 6). There may be a small fee per withdrawal -- best to find out what that is so you are not surprised.

Also, if your bank tells you that the Italian bank may charge an additional fee, don't worry about it. They won't.

You should also be aware of your daily withdrawal limit. It will be the same in Italy as it is at home.

Many of these points are negotiable with your bank depending on how much they value your business. Doesn't hurt to try!

Finally, if you do a search on ATM's on this site you will get more information than you ever wanted to know. Hopefully I've covered the basics.

Buon viaggio!
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Aug 25th, 2003, 05:49 PM
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I too suggest a few travellers checks for backup. I bring about $300 and always bring them home with me and just deposit into the bank. I use a credit cardfor all purchases (hotel, restaurant, stores) and use the ATM and my bank debit card to get my walking around money. I have found this to be a reasonable plan for myself. I am fortunate not to be charged for using an ATM and debit in Europe, so I can get cash whenever necessary and not worry about fees. At this point, I cannot give up the security of some travelers checks but I'm sure that will change in time. I would not recommend using a credit card for use at the ATM because I am pretty sure you start paying interest immediately on a cash withdrawl. You'd have to check with your card company, but mine does. My debit card withdraws directly from my checking account. If you do a search for credit card or ATM on this board, you'll find lots of opinions that might help you make up your mind. Have fun in Italy!
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Aug 25th, 2003, 07:07 PM
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I have $300.00 in Travelers' Checks in my money belt that have been there for six years and have made several trips to Europe, China and Central America. They are getting a bit ragged.

We are going to Italy in 13 days and have some Euros left over from our May trip, so we don't have to worry about an ATM in the airport but we have never had any trouble.

In France we have found things that look like ATM's but aren't. Don't really know what they are for, but couldn't get any money. So, went across the street.

ATM's are the way to go.

If you have both credit cards and ATM's don't get mixed and and use your card for cash. The charges are usurious.

Hope that your trip is all that you hoped :-B
ed is offline  
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Aug 27th, 2003, 06:37 PM
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Thank all of youfor the guidance--sounds like a piece of cake.
pillola is offline  
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Aug 28th, 2003, 08:01 AM
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One more piece of advice: call your bank and credit card companies and give them the destination and dates of your trip so that they do not consider the withdrawals and charges out of the ordinary and freeze the account.
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