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WLH Oct 26th, 2000 10:46 AM

Money Usage/Exchange in Rome/Naples
When traveling in Italy, particularly in Rome and Naples, should I rely more on traveler's checks? What are the best places to exchange currency there? How heavily can I rely on using my Cirrus/Pulse/Honor ATM card? Is that super-easy? Any currency information you can provide is appreciated. <BR>I'm going to base in Rome 21-Feb-01 to 01-Mar. with side trips to Pompeii/Herculaneum, Paestum, Ostia Antica and Tivoli.

Marilyn Ham Oct 26th, 2000 11:35 AM

I've mostly made use of travelers checks, although the exchange rate for the charge codes is good. You won't be able to use charge codes in some of the smaller establishments. We've exchanged money at the Bank of Sicily and gotten the best rate in Rome (I think Rick Steves mentions that also). Marilyn

Patrick Oct 26th, 2000 11:40 AM

If you are even the least bit concerned about the rate of exchange you are going to get, then forget the traveler's checks or cash. Use ATM's. If for some strange reason you run into one in Italy that doesn't work for you, try the one right next door or probably within a block away and it will. I have never had a problem using ATMs anywhere in Europe, including a lot in Italy. Of course, if you don't care about the rate of exchange, traveler's checks are a safe and comfortable way to carry spare cash I guess.

Ed Oct 26th, 2000 12:13 PM

Presuming you have a cash card or a credit card with NO month-to-month balance due running on it ATMs are the least expensive way to get money ... presuming your bank (don't worry about the European bank) has zero or reasonable charges for using an ATM outside their system. <BR> <BR>Some charge two bucks for example ... which is a 10% surcharge if you only get $20 at a time. Even getting $100 at a crack gives you a 2% charge (over and above the base percentage) which is about what using TCs or cash will run you. <BR> <BR>For emergencies we TCs in US dollars. ATMs do usually work ... but the unwritten rule is that they fail ... or swallow your card ... only at 10 pm on a Friday night of a three day weekend, and without another machine that handles your card in the neighborhood. <BR> <BR>If you believe the ATMs will always work, don't carry a second card and don't carry backup cash or TCs. Similarly, if you believe cars never crash, don't bother with a seat belt. <BR> <BR>For a more extended discussion of handling your money on a trip to Europe see <BR> <BR>Ed <BR>

Rick Oct 26th, 2000 12:53 PM

Cirrus compatible ATMs are everywhere in Rome and Naples. Unless you are in a rural place or small village, most places beyond the extremely cheap now take credit cards as well. For the most part, Cirrus compatible ATMs are also convenient in minor cities in Europe. I've used my ATM card without much searching in places like Pec, Hungary and Osijek, Croatia. As always, you should carry some reserve emergency US dollars, and preferably two credit cards. Even if you don't have a PIN for cash advances on credit cards (and you should make sure you have one before you leave), you can still get cash advances by going to a service window at a bank. Another consideration is if you are traveling with a spouse (who probably has a backup ATM already) or a close friend who also has credit cards. When using an ATM, don't nickel and dime yourself by making small transactions since there is a small percentage taken out. To me, travelers checks are decidedly inconvenient and a definite money losing proposition. It is easier to keep a credit card separate from your wallet than it is for a bundle of TCs, and you will also not need to show your passport (if you happened to lose it) to get a cash advance. Not so with TCs. The days are long past when travelers had to carry a trip's worth of cash or TCs. The world's a more integrated place than it was even five years ago.

WLH Oct 27th, 2000 07:41 AM

Thank you all for the excellent advice. I now have a much better approach to my currency usage.

marylou Oct 27th, 2000 08:07 AM

Just got back from Italy last week and had a great time. Rome,Sorrento,Florence and Venice. <BR>Before we left we ordered Lira through Chase Manhattan bank "Currency-to-G0". You can look on the website to read about it. We ordered by telephone and it was delivered to the house the next day. Our plan was to order a couple of hundred Dollars in Lira to get us started and then use ATM machines there. Atms are everywhere and we had no problem. When you get there get a nice amount of Lira at one time and Go. Don't be a slave to going to money machines every other day. <BR>One word of advise take less clothes and more money. We took way to many clothes. wear comfortable shoes!! We had a great trip. everyone was very friendly and helpful to us.

Carey Oct 27th, 2000 09:21 AM

USE THE ATM'S!!!! All the times I have been to Italy, once I get out of the major town, I had a very difficult time cashing my TC. Now I use the ATM, I take out the max amount: 500.000 L then use my debit card for purchases, etc. It worked like a dream on my last vacation (I just got back this week)

susie Oct 27th, 2000 09:42 AM

Anybody have any thoughts on using travelers checks denominated in Euros in Italy?

jim Oct 27th, 2000 12:41 PM

Re: travelers checks in Euros. <BR>Why would you? And with the availability of ATMs, why bother with travelers checks at all?

Ed Oct 27th, 2000 12:53 PM

There's no particular advantage to euro traveler's checks. The disadvantage remains that if you don't spend all of them you'll take an expensive hit converting them to dollars when you get back home. <BR> <BR>Again, we do get TCs for our trips, but mainly for emergencies. Thus, we invariably have TCs left over from the trip. Since they're denominated in dollars they're easy to cash at the grocery store, bank, etc. <BR> <BR>Ed

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