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Money questions for Italy e.g. pay for hotels with euros or dollars?

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Apr 25th, 2011, 10:36 AM
  #1
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Money questions for Italy e.g. pay for hotels with euros or dollars?

First, I want apologize for posting this, the part about paying with euros or dollars that is. I stumbled across that same topic on this forum before but can't seem to find them again, and we leave in 2 weeks so I need your invaluable help.

Euros or dollars - Some of the hotels we'll stay at give us a small discount if we pay cash. Should we pay in euros or dollars?

Large or small bills - This is our 1st trip to Europe and I understand that travellers checks are not used there so we're not bringing any on this trip. We traveled to southeast Asia and crisp $100 bills got the best exchange rate. Is it the same in Italy? Should we bring large bills or smaller and clean bills for exchange?

Money Exchange - I've read that exchanging money in Italy is best at banks, or post offices, not airport, hotels or money-exchange kiosks. Please confirm. We plan to exchange some money for transportation from Marco Polo airport to our hotel in Venice.

ATM - we've never used the ATM while on travel before but I read that it's a good idea in Europe, instead of carrying around a large amount of cash which we did in Asia. I'm thinking of getting an ATM card from my bank and check on rates for withdrawals, etc. Is this a good idea?

Tipping - just round up the bill or leave a few dollars? We normally tip 15-20% here at home. We're the type (well I am and my husband kind of goes along haha) who leave money for the ladies who clean our rooms, the staff at the free breaksfast buffet, the bellboys, etc and etc..

Thank you so much for your help!
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Apr 25th, 2011, 10:41 AM
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We no longer are in the post W.W.II era. You pay in the local currency.

Use an ATM. If you have a BofA account, there is a partner bank in Italy from which you can withdraw money without paying BofA's fees.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 10:43 AM
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I'm quite confused by some (all?) of your questions, Paige. You will be traveling to Italy - the currency of Italy is the Euro. Why do you think you can pay your hotel bills or leave tips in US dollars? You pay your bills and leave your tips in Euros. You don't need clean $100s for currency exchange. Get an ATM card and use the ATM - yields the best exchange rate. By the way, if you have an ATM card at home, you can use the same one for travel as it works the same way.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 10:44 AM
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Look at it this way - do hotels in the US take euros?
I'd say that's unlikely so take money from an ATM (in or
in front of a bank - not free-standing) and pay for your
room with euros.

ATM's are the way to go - good idea to get two - one for
back-up 'just in case'.

Your tipping strategy should work.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 10:45 AM
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OK -- I'll be gentle here (others may not be)

"a small discount if we pay cash. Should we pay in euros or dollars?" The cash discount is for €

(Would your local restaurants/motels/stores take euros -- highly doubt it)
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Apr 25th, 2011, 10:46 AM
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we were all posting at the same time . . .
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Apr 25th, 2011, 10:48 AM
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"Tipping - just round up the bill or leave a few dollars?"

Oh - in case there is ANY confusion -- do not tip anyone in dollars . . .
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Apr 25th, 2011, 10:52 AM
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You'll find an ATM in the airport. Any dollars you take with you would be in case of emergency, not to obtain local currency at the airport.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 10:58 AM
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You will find it is very easy to use ATMs in Italy. Stop at one in the airport on your arrival and take out the maximum your bank allows. Most restaurants and stores will accept credit cards, even at some markets you will be able to use a cc for purchases (e.g., table cloth, leather jacket, etc.) If you are driving on the highways, you can even use CCs to pay tolls -- but this isn't always the case.

If you will be paying hotels in cash, you may need to take out the maximum several days in a row so that you have sufficient cash. You'll find it is best to break large bills so that you have a good supply of 20s, 10s, 5s and 1 euros to spend. (If you find yourself in a small town and you just want to sit and drink a glass of wine or beer, they won't be happy to make change for a 100euro bill, so you'll feel better if you can just let them make change for a 20.)



Have fun. Try not to think about the exchange rate. You've planned a vacation and you've planned to pay for it. Don't nickle and dime yourself out of what should be a great time.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 10:59 AM
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Yes, why pay in dollors, a non-local currency? You will probably get a bad rate, a whatever one that the hotel can decide.

If you read on a little more on this forum, you will find more detailed answers :

> ATM - we've never used the ATM while on travel before but I read that it's a good idea in Europe,..

It's not merely a "good" idea. It's the BEST idea as far as I can tell from all the related posts here.

> Tipping - just round up the bill or leave a few dollars? We normally tip 15-20% here at home.

I suspect 15 - 20 % tipping is done only in your country (your country is USA I suppose). I may be wrong if that high percentage is practiced only in USA but then others will correct me.

Maybe you had better be clear, is this your first time in Europe?
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Apr 25th, 2011, 11:01 AM
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Thanks for all your kind input. Only the first question about paying the hotels is in euros or dollars. The rest, I already knew I'd have to pay in euros, duh. Just like many of you pointed out, would a European tourist come to the states and pay in euros, of course not.

I guess I should have made it clearer.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 11:03 AM
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You may find, if you leave change to tip the housekeeping people, they may not pick it up at all. If they do a particularly good job, you might leave 1-2 euros per night. If they haven't picked up change -- leave it on note with a large Grazie!
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Apr 25th, 2011, 11:06 AM
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At checkout, a hotel in Florence gave me the option of charging my credit card in either dollars or Euros
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Apr 25th, 2011, 11:11 AM
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> At checkout, a hotel in Florence gave me the option of charging my credit card in either dollars or Euros.

That's called DCC (?). If you don't want lose money, your answer is you pay/be carged in EURO.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 11:16 AM
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>>lesvince:
At checkout, a hotel in Florence gave me the option of charging my credit card in either dollars or Euros<<

Just in case there is any confusion about kappa's response . . Never EVER choose pay in dollars.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 11:24 AM
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The most economical way to trvel is to pay your large bills (hotel, restaurants etc) with credit cards and you smaller (gelato, drink in a cafe) with euros ($ are no good anywhere in Italy - why would they be) that you pull from yuor checking account with an ATM card (just like here at home). (If anyone offers to let you pay in $ RUN the other way - they are trying to sucker you with a really bad rate or exchange - more shoveing money out a window.)

Carrying to changing cash is just shoveling moneyout the window (you will ed up paying 8 to 10% in fees versus 2 or 3% for an ATM or CC).

and yes, you tip bellmen, maids etc like you do at home. Tips are smaller for waitstaff and taxis than the usual 20% you give in the US.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 11:28 AM
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Never let a merchant charge you in anything other than the local currency -- the conversion to dollars is at a rate favorable to the merchant, not to you, while your bank still treats it as a foreign transaction subject to its usual fees. You would be paying fees twice for the same transaction.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 11:45 AM
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and please don't export that idea of 15-20% tipping!
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Apr 25th, 2011, 12:15 PM
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While there are countries where paying in US dollar cash is an option or desired, Italy is NOT one of them. Use the Euro.

The local currency rule does not necessarily apply in a country with weak currency, experiencing hyperinflation, or with some kind of relevant government foreign exchange restrictions. Italy is NOT in this category.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 12:25 PM
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Thanks for everyone's input! Yes, I did say this will be our 1st time to Europe and we're going on our own.

During our travels to Asia (China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Viet nam, Cambodia), dollars were actually preferred over the local currency. And we don't use our ATM cards here at home, can you believe it? I just withdraw lots of cash from the bank and get more when it's all used up. We use our Amex card a lot, for everything.

margo_oz, we won't use the 15-20% tipping policy in Italy.

kappa1, that's the term, DCC! I had found some threads on that before. And you're right, we've encountered many hotels giving us the option of dollars or the local currency.
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