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Money, Money , Liras ?

Old Jan 25th, 2001, 04:22 AM
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Money, Money , Liras ?

Seen as me and my husband will be spending 2 weeks in Italy. What is the most practical way in carrying around money . . . .
(1) Take all spending money as Liras (notes)
(2) Take half amount in Liras and half in Travellers Cheques ?
(3) Or take a a small amount of Liras for bus/ferry fares and entrance tickets and use a Visa card?

And do many shops and restaurants accept Visa/mastercard?

Husband is very security conscious ! (paranoid esp. about Rome !)
Old Jan 25th, 2001, 04:34 AM
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Take enough cash for a day.Take an ATM card each (in case one screws up)& get cash from ATMs.
Visa/Mastercard uiniversally accepted, but keep your reciepts & check them when your bill arrives, there have been reports on this forum of restaurants inflating bills.
American Express is not universally accepted due to their high charges.(who do you think pays for all the airmiles etc.)
Travellers checks are not terribly useful IMO.
Old Jan 25th, 2001, 05:50 AM
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If you can use cash machines without incurring interest penalties do so, eliminating the need for too much cash. If possible have two cards in case one gets lost or swallowed by a machine. Make sure you have a four digit pin number.

Buy a few travelers' checks denominated in US dollars as emergency funds. ATMs may fail just when you need money, or you may need spare funds in the US while traveling to/from.

If you won't incur excessive interest charges on your credit card charge things like hotels, dinner tabs and large purchases.

Don't bother to convert dollars to lire in the US before your trip. It'll be an unnecessary expense and they'll have lots of lire avaialable when you arrive. ATM machines and bank change offices at the airport, all working as long as flights come and go.

Extended info on handling your money on a holiday in Europe at

Old Jan 25th, 2001, 05:57 AM
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One comment about ATM use in Italy. I am not an expert, but just telling you about an experience. When we arrive at the Milan airport on a Sunday, none of the ATM's had any cash. We, then, drove to Venice via highway, stopping at several highway restaurants, again, finding no money in the ATM's. At the time, the kids were getting quite hungry, and we had no cash. Fortunately, after we found our hotel near Venice, we found an ATM at a bank that had money in it. For most of the trip, we did not have trouble finding money in ATM's. But, in one small town in Italy, our cards would not work in any ATM. On this trip,we were in Paris over a weekend. Again, on Sunday, the ATM's were quite empty. So,you might want to have a little lira when you arrive. You probably can purchase $20. worth at your airport for an inflated exchange rate, but you'll have it on hand.
Old Jan 25th, 2001, 10:22 AM
Marcos Velez
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Dont take the money with you!
You shouldnt have any problems getting money from ATM's while in Italy. You will also get much better rates by getting money via ATM's. I have never seen an ATM in Europe that charges a surcharge, so you will probably only have to worry about your particular bank. Even if you pay a surcharge to your bank (1 or 2 dollars...) you will do much better than taking dollars and exchanging them. While withdrawing money from an ATM, you will get the bank-to-bank exchange rate, which is MUCH better than if you go to the local money exchange place.

As for carrying a lot money, it is just not smart at all. I would suggest you bring 50 or 100 dollars with you in case you get VERY unlucky and cant find a working ATM. You may want to bring some of that money in the local currency, since the exchange places at airports will RIP YOU OFF.
Old Jan 25th, 2001, 11:52 AM
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Thanks every one !
Old Jan 25th, 2001, 11:53 AM
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When I travel to Italy I carry:
a) Lit 100,000 in cash
b) US$ 200 in cash (2 bills)
c) a VISA/Plus and a Mastercard/Cirrus plastic.

Do you know what? I never failed to return home with the intact Italian and US cash ... ready for the next trip

Old Jan 25th, 2001, 03:33 PM
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Do most cash cards (not credit cards) work in Italy? I have a MAC card (money access Card) which takes money out of my accounts. It has a "Plus" on it. I have credit cards but when I called them they said they charge over 22% for a cash advance. Has anyone used them? I seem to remember when I was in England it did work but not sure. I also am not sure but do not think it asked you where you wanted the money to come out of (checking or savings)Does it automatically come out of your checking account?
Old Jan 25th, 2001, 06:32 PM
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If it has a Plus on it and a 4-digid pin it'll work in all ATMs with the Plus mark. I live in Brazil and our system is different. Once we're not charged interest for cash advances on cc cards, we don't use csh cards abroad. Any traveller from the US should be able to tell you how it works (I don't know if the ATM for cash advances asks from hich account you want it debited or if the debit is made in that account that you designated as primary for foreing cash advances).
Old Jan 26th, 2001, 02:34 AM
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For the previous poster, Beth.
I use my debit cards for all my cash withdrawals and use credit cards for hotels, meals, etc. We have used cards from several banks (they were all part of the plus system) and have never had a problem all over Europe. We usually go to the cash machine each morning and get enough for the day.
I do advise taking 250 (I take $500, but we are usually gone for three weeks)in American Express travelers checks if one were robbed or would lose everything. They are the fastest to replace and The American Express offices are usually without fail in the most central of locations. Make sure you leave a copy of your debit, credit card, and travelers checks numbers with a friend at home in the event you were robbed. They may be very helpful in getting your cards cancelled and new ones issued.

Old Jan 26th, 2001, 03:51 AM
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My main concern is that we might lose or have our cards stolen. Although we do take them with us (but keep it in our suitacases) for 'extra' cash and emergencies, I tend to take mostly cash and travellers cheques. In other places I've been to in Europe - everywhere has been pretty safe. Its just that I've heard alot about the high crime rates in pickpocketing. Although me and Al are very security conscience (sp)! We are not particularly worried about when we are in Sorrento, But when we go to Rome I'm not too sure ! The good thing is that we will be arriving in Naples and we'll be picked up by the hotel owners in Sorrento and from there on we only carry the exact amount of money (allowance !) for that day only and leave the rest in the suitacases.

My other concern is that what do I pay the hotels in ? Liras (which will be a huge amount !) or by card or travellers cheques?

Also one last thing - trains - we will have to take the train from Naples/sorrento to Rome (both ways) and am a bit concerned about being mugged !! Am I being paranoid ?
Old Jan 31st, 2001, 10:30 AM
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Hotel: credit card
Restaurant: great majority especially in big cities accepts credit card, but for many reasons you sould have some change (5mila lire) to leave cash as a gratuity.
Highway: there are no ATM once you're there. Crazy, isn't it?
Old Jan 31st, 2001, 10:53 AM
Christopher Woolson
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I've been to Italy once for a two week jaunt and am hosting a group of 6 the end of Febraury. Here is my advice to those I am taking:

ATM: Take your ATM card (using the PLUS/CIRRUS netowrk) and withdraw about 100 US$ at the airport. This will last a few days and use it for incidental items, snacks throughout the day, trains and taxis. You pay no commission and the exchange rate is better as its directly through your bank. Any withdrawal costs are minimum and would be the same as commission and/or exchange rate discrepancies.

VISA: Use your VISA/Mastercard for meals and hotels, if not already paid for. Anything that is more than, say, $25.00. The conversion will be good as your card will do that for you-- commission free! Use a GOLD card for major purchases just in case the item is stolen or breaks -- I've cashed in on this in the past and highly recommend it.

TRAVELER'S CHECKS : I recommend traveler's checks when hitting more than one country at a time and there is the possibility that the train station won't have an ATM machine. More than likely you'll bring them home.

Hope this helps!
Christopher Woolson
Old Jan 31st, 2001, 10:57 AM
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Copy the numbers of both of your credit cards and leave one copy at home (with a friend, husband's secretary, housesitter etc.) Keep other copy with you, but memorize the last four digits and do not write them down. Write down the 800 number to call in case the card is stolen or lost. Before you leave, call the credit card co. and tell them where you are going and that you expect to put X amount per day on the card. That way they won't shut you off automatically. Carry credit cards---one apiece in the front pocket of your slack, not in purses or fanny packs or husbands back pocket. Keep your eyes open. We leave passports in safe at hotel with drivers license if not needed and carry a small amount of lire in an almost empty wallet. That way if they do get it, it's virtually worthless anyway. Visa and Mastercard accepted almost everywhere. As Frank says, keep all receipts from purchases in your "travel diary." Don't worry!
Old Jan 31st, 2001, 11:00 AM
Dave Buckley
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With referance to debit cards, I have used mine from Newcastle, England to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok and South America. It is affiliated with the Cirrus system and I use this each day for my walking around money.
The rates are always the most reasonable and I have never had any difficulties.
I usually get about $25.00 worth of the local currency just to be sure of having bus , etc., expenses.

Old Jan 31st, 2001, 11:32 AM
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This may seem very simple, but before they left for Italy my neighbors got an extra card for their ATM, with each one carrying one in case the other was stolen. Guess what? Hers was stolen and of course they reported it right away, so naturally his was no good either! They hadn't thought of that. If you have two accounts make sure that your two cards are from the two different accounts, so if worse comes to worse and you have to close one out the other one will still work. Same thing with credit cards.
Old Jan 31st, 2001, 01:02 PM
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FYI two ATM cards: my husband and I each have debit cards that double as ATM cards. Even though they're on the same account, the numbers on the front of the cards are different. When he lost his a few months ago and cancelled it, mine still worked. Just have to check...

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