My first visit to Italy

Old Sep 14th, 2008, 06:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
It is at the conversion step that they get you. I can assure you that any financial institution will not do it for less than 5% and more often 8 to 10%. That includes AMEX.
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Old Sep 14th, 2008, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 897
One last question, because I want to be clear on this. You're telling me that when I go to the counter at my bank to purchase the travellers cheques and I pay for them - the conversion rate being what they have posted on the wall for buying and selling foreign currencies. And then I end that transaction and pay for some Euros (cash) - and the same conversion rate is used. That what the Royal Bank of Canada has posted publicly is 5-10% more than any other bank would use for converting foreign money? But when I withdraw money from an ATM in Italy, whatever conversion rate that is will be 5-10% lower than that used by my Canadian bank. Why?
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Old Sep 14th, 2008, 08:49 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Well, RickMav, I don't understand the complications of international banking, but it is true that the ATM conversion rate is only 1% over the international bank rate (what banks charge each other) and almost surely much less than what you pay RBC or any other bank. Your bank may charge a fee for that ATM withdrawal, but my US credit union does not. Likewise the credit union credit card only charges 1%. And, at least heretofore, a Capitol One credit card didn't even charge the 1%.

The other problem with travelers' checks is cashing them, even if they're in Euros. If you're not in a big city with an American Express office, you'll have a hard time finding a place to cash them. Most hotels won't take them, certainly not restaurants. Some banks will, some won't. Which means if you're lucky, you're still limited to banking hours for getting money.

Really, ATM cards are a wonderful invention. You can get money in the smallest towns any time of day or night. With an ATM card and a credit card, you don't need to carry around large amounts of cash. But you can still take advantage of cash discounts. And with a credit card you can dispute charges. Plus if your card is stolen, your loss is limited (in the US to $50 IIRC). Finally you need a credit card to rent a car.
Mimar is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2008, 09:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 897
Thanks Mimar for your answer. We only cash the travellers cheques at American Express Offices (or Lloyds Banks in England) when we need a large amount of cash to pay for cottage/apartment rentals, etc.

We use the ATMs for everyday things, mindful of the $5 user fee the Royal Bank charges on every transaction. (Our credit union charges $3, but we have had some problems using their card, so take take both.)

And we carry credit cards for, as you say, car rentals. We've been travelling for some 30 years and have learned that credit card purchases can be too easy for us and we can get carried away and find an unpleasant surprise when we get home.

This morning I have taken a vow never to mention the words 'travellers cheques' on the Fodor's website website again.
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Old Sep 14th, 2008, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,077
Hi cliffbob,

i just googled your hotel - the riva - and found that they have excellent directions and maps helping you to find them.

my choice, given that it is a stone's throw from san marco, would be to get the alilaguna from the airport. it's 14€ each, but it'll be much easier than getting the bus, then the vaporetto to san marco, then walking.

when you are leaving Venice, [when you will be far more familiar with the transport system] you can catch the no 1 or No 2 vaporetto to the Station, [shown almost universally in Venice as "Ferrovia"] from san marco.

you could wander up there the day before [it's actually not that far on foot if you're not trying to manage your luggage over all those bridges] and get your ticket or buy on the day.

as for money, I agree with the majority - use ATMs for spending money, credit cards for larger purchases. you will have to work out for yourselves what falls into which category. you should let both your ATM and credit card providers know that you wil be in Italy so they don't block them for suspected fraudulent use, and make sure that you've got a back-up in case one card doesn't work.

have a great trip,

regards, ann

annhig is offline  
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