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Using American Express card as backup - is it widely accepted in Italy?

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Aug 28th, 2003, 09:00 AM
  #1
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Using American Express card as backup - is it widely accepted in Italy?

Leaving for Italy in ten days and plan to carry my Visa as well as a backup credit card. I just noticed that the backup Visa I usually carry has expired meaning I will have to us my AMEX card as the backup. Can anyone tell me if American Express card is widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, etc, in Italy?
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Aug 28th, 2003, 09:54 AM
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ira
 
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Hi

AMEX is not as widely accepted, especially smaller towns and less expensive establishments. However, you can use it to get cash from ATMs as well as writing checks.

The AMEX people can tell you where the local offices are for the cities you will be in.
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Aug 28th, 2003, 09:58 AM
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I've had problems with my AmEx in both Italy and France. And I'm not talking about problems in a small trattoria in the middle of nowhere. I'm talking about our hotel in the Dolomites and the Tourism Office in Avignon (which sells tours). These are two places used to tourists from everywhere that were unable to accept an AmEx. It is not a good back-up card.
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Aug 28th, 2003, 10:10 AM
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On the other hand, I have been using my American Express card almost exclusively in Italy for the last 20 years. In over thirty trips, I can think of maybe three times that the business wouldn't take it, even in out of the way small towns in Basilicata, Molise and Calabria.
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Aug 28th, 2003, 10:13 AM
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I didn't have any problems using AmEx during our two week trip in July. A lot of places would not accept travelers checks, though.
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Aug 28th, 2003, 04:35 PM
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I'll have to agree with Grinisa. In our four trips to Europe (3 to Italy and 1 to Paris) since 1999, we only occasionally encountered an establishment that would not accept Amex.
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Aug 28th, 2003, 04:42 PM
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We carried MasterCard, Visa, AmEx and DinersClub this year in France. On previous trips I pretty much exclusively used my Diners Club but for some reason the AmEx worked like a champ. (In most cases they were accepting just about everything, but it sort of depended on how their machines worked when they ran them through. It was worth it to have the options.)
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Aug 28th, 2003, 04:55 PM
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It's probably safer to rely on the Visa or MC as a backup. Use your Amex where and when you can. That way, if an emergency does arise, you'll have room on your Visa and MC, which has wider acceptance. Everybody knows that Amex charges the highest merchant fees and Italians have been slow to embrace plastic.
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Aug 28th, 2003, 05:20 PM
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We used our Amex card through most of Italy (and Switzerland) without problem. There were a few instances when we had to use our Master Card or had to pay in cash but overall the Amex was widely accepted. Give it a go.
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Aug 29th, 2003, 07:16 AM
  #10
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Thanks for all the answers. I normally use a Visa for a backup but since I let it expire I have no choice but to use the AmEx. I was planning to bring it anyway so I could cash personal checks at the AMEX office in case I lost or maxed out my debit card. I have a tendency to go with the belts and suspenders approach- probably overly cautious.
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Aug 29th, 2003, 07:34 AM
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Visa remains the most popular card. In the past several years of extensive European travel we have had two occassions when restaurants refused to take Visa or Master Card, but offered to take American Express, surprisingly.
Equally surprisingly is that we have had a number of times when restaurants refused to take Master Card, but would take Visa. When I said something like, "but Master Card is the same as Eurocard", I was told that they didn't take Eurocard either". This is not common, but anything can happen. Fortunately between the two of us, we have all three cards.
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