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Travel to Europe/Rome - Cash only possible?

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Mar 30th, 2011, 09:41 PM
  #1
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Travel to Europe/Rome - Cash only possible?

hi! just wondering if it is possible for me to travel to Europe with no credit cards, as I do not have one, and dont wish to have one. I do have savings and a debit card. Not sure if hotels in Italy like to keep a major credit card on file. I was thinking of going on a tour, but was quoted $900 for 4 days in one city. had to ask myself, WHAT FOR? i figure it would be cheaper to do on my own, and buy a city tour while there.

Any advice any of you can give me will be helpful!

thanks! - jen
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Mar 30th, 2011, 10:53 PM
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Is it perhaps possible to get a pre-paid credit card? I do have credit cards, but the last time I went travelling I bought a "travel card" from my bank which is loaded with money in the currency you want to spend in Europe (i.e. euros most likely). You can use it as a credit or debit card, there were some fees for ATM withdrawals but it was free to work in shops. That might be useful if you want to be able to ensure you don't go into debt or you can't get a credit card, but then you can have the advantages of one - not only for booking hotels, but also for not having to carry cash or deal with trying to exchange it. I have no idea whether banks in the US issue them though!
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Mar 31st, 2011, 01:34 AM
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The advantage of a credit card over a debit card is that your liability is limited to $50 with the credit card. Someone who gets access to your debit card can clean out your account.

Not sure if hotels in Italy like to keep a major credit card on file.
Why would you want them to? Hotels will only ask for a credit card if you plan to use the telephone in the room, which is a financial black hole for you.

Suggest that you get a regular ATM card and draw cash as you need it. Keep a few days supply in your pocket at all times because Italian cash machines are not always reliable. Find out from your bank beforehand what they charge you for foreign cash withdrawals. If it is more than 0.0% or $0.00 then get a new bank or a credit union. Consider getting a Capital One credit card because it has no foreign transaction fee.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 02:03 AM
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Use of cash throughout Europe is not unusual - even for paying hotel bills. The one area you will have problems though is if you decide to hire a car where it's very hard (ie nearly impossible) to do so without a CC as they like to be able to charge you for when you drive into a restricted zone and they get the fine.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 02:50 AM
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Be sure you notify your debit card bank. If you do not and they block your first transaction, you'll be stuck making calls back to the US to explain that you're in Europe or you'll have no access to your funds. Also, you generally cannot access savings accounts from European ATMs.

As much as you are philosophically opposed to credit cards, why not have one just as a back-up. I agree with spaarne's suggestion for a Capital One card as they have no foreign transaction fees and most others do.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 02:56 AM
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Your debit card can be a liability IF they have it AND the pin that goes with it.

Yes, you can use cash and just how much are you planning to CARRY with you? All of it? Some of it?

I think the pre-paid credit card idea would be much more convenient and safer for you, frankly.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 03:30 AM
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You say you have a debit card, so you can withdraw cash from an ATM every now and then and don't have to carry a lot of it around. This will work perfectly. Car rental is about the only activity that really requires a credit card. Everything else can be done without.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 04:18 AM
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You will get creamed on the exchange rate 15-30% now

but doable ecxhange your money only at big banks

coimill.com for correct exchange rate.

personally prefer my capitalone.com/venture

0 foreign exchange fees always get correct FOREX rate by law.

0 liability I can always dispute reverse any charge

unlike cash debit cards very risky for theft.

insuremytrip.com money belt always wise especially with

boatloads of cash...

Good luck you will need it!
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Mar 31st, 2011, 05:59 AM
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If you have a debit card that allows you get cash from a machine, you will have no problems (apart perhaps from hiring a car which I've never done). I've travelled all over Europe without a credit card.
It is quite normal to pay by cash in hotels and restaurants. Hotels often like to keep your passport overnight so that you can't run off without paying, but that isn't a problem.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 06:23 AM
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If you don't have a CC, you may have to leave a deposit if you want to rent a car. Other than that there's no reason for a CC. CC are an american invention, due to their inefficient banking system and not really needed anywhere in Europe.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 07:47 AM
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Your debit card is likely all you'll need. Make sure you notify your bank of your dates away from home and the places you'll be. Ask your bank to raise your daily limit if you think you'll need a lot of cash at one time for some big expense (but DON'T carry wads of cash around with you any longer than is necessary. Keep in mind that you can hit more than one ATM machine in a day for a withdrawal. You might also ask your bank for a backup debit card in case you lose the original (try not to do that).

I hardly ever use a cc when I'm in Europe, so I don't look at this as that much of a handicap. I would NEVER get one of those pre-paid credit cards - total rip-off!
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Mar 31st, 2011, 08:05 AM
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We spend mostly cash in Europe too, although I do like having a credit card as a back up and for larger purchases. It isn't necesary though.
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Apr 1st, 2011, 12:33 AM
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thank you guys!! i will definitely save money this way because i wont be paying $900 to a tour company on an independent vacation, as i assumed i would. Some hotels in US, well the ones ive experienced, asks for a major credit card, not a bank card.

I will definitely bring my debit card and inform my bank of international travel. as for cash i figure i'd bring with me $400 in cash, exchange it and charge tours and hotel to the debit card.

Does anyone know how to reserve a room in Rome? Average price for hotels near the Vatican? What information will they ask me? Well, I suppose i can just call them myself, lol, but if anyone wants to save me the trouble...i will say a prayer for you from the Vatican.

thank you all! - jen
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Apr 1st, 2011, 02:52 AM
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www.venere.com is a very good hotel/B&B site with a function to choose the area you wish to stay in.
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Apr 1st, 2011, 03:13 AM
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jene4--I think you will get better responses to your lodging question if you post that separately explaining how many nights you are planning to stay in Rome and giving some idea of how much you want to spend.

There are many threads about options in Rome although most people prefer to stay in the Piazza Navona area, not near the Vatican. If you are staying 4 nights or more you might look into a studio apartment instead of a hotel. We had very good luck renting through realrome.com which has good rates and a very helpful owner. One word of caution: there might be issues with making a reservation without a credit card. I have never tried.
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Apr 1st, 2011, 05:15 AM
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" Some hotels in US, well the ones ive experienced, asks for a major credit card"

Much less frequently than you think. I've never been turned away from the hotel in the US for not having a credit card. Most simply require a significant cash deposit and sometimes decline to let you have credit for food and drink.

Lots of Americans can't get credit cards. Few hotels are such poor business people that they turn away cash customers.

However many people on this board like to pretend different.
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Apr 1st, 2011, 06:34 AM
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I am a little confused in that you talk about using cash, then talk about using a debit card to pay hotel bills.

Can you do that? In Europe? I don't know the answer because I don't have a debit card, only an ATM card.

I do believe it is a bad to bring $400 US in cash. You will get killed on fees. Maybe buy 50-100 euro for arrival at the airport but then withcraw what you need from ATM's (bancomats) daily.
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