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VISA gift cards in Italy?

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Sep 19th, 2009, 04:48 AM
  #1
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VISA gift cards in Italy?

Has anyone had any experience with using a VISA gift card in Italy?

My DD is going on a school trip and I was wanting to send her with one of these cards so she doens't have to carry alot of euros.

From what I understand the school trip that went to Turkey and Greece the year before could not use them.

So just curious if anyone has been able to use them in Italy.

Thank you..

Kim
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Sep 19th, 2009, 05:13 AM
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I would open up a checking account in her name and get her a debit card. It would be so much easier. Also, if she lost it, it would be less money to worry about. You could deposit into the account as needed. It usually only takes a day to reflect the deposit.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 05:14 AM
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I don't know the real answer to this, but i have had problems with them here in the US, SOme stores they work fine others not.

You might want to consider setting up a separate joint checking acccount for you and her at your bank. then get heran ATM card on it. With your name on it you could monitor balances etc. if she needed more $ you could deposit more.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 05:23 AM
  #4
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Thanks for both your responses. Unfortunatley the school officials have told us they can not use anything with a PIN. No real reason given but the only things they said we could not use was travellers cheques and debit cards.

Thanks again
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Sep 19th, 2009, 05:36 AM
  #5
J62
 
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I suspect they've had experience on previous trips where groups of students have queued to get money from an ATM and it's been very disruptive. I can imagine a group of 20 burning a lot of time finding and using an ATM, especially if some of the students had difficulty. I've waited in line at an ATM and waited 5min or more for someone to figure it out and complete (or not) the transaction. Imagine that x20 or more students.

I don't know the details of a visa gift card, but wouldn't that also have a PIN to get cash from an ATM? From what I've read it's simply a limited, bad (cost wise) version of a debit card. You aren't debiting against a bank account, but rather against a prepaid deposit.

From the school's perspective these would seem to be the same thing, so I don't think a visa gift card solves her problem. What DOES the school recommend students do for cash?
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Sep 19th, 2009, 05:55 AM
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Open a joint checking account at a credit union with her since she is underage and get her an ATM only card (different from debit card). The school is just being stupid about the PIN since the Visa money card will have a PIN and will have to be used at ATM's. Visa money cards are a rip-off. They charge to load, give a lousy exchange rate and charge to use.

Are you sure you want to let your child travel with a school that knows so little about travel?
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Sep 19th, 2009, 06:00 AM
  #7
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Actually I went and checked out the gift card yesterday and they told me there is no PIN nor do they sign for anything...it is strickly a front loaded card.

The school wants them to only use cash. I am just afraid of her having alot of cash and in a currency she knows nothing about. Also I wanted her to have a emergency fund on that card.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 06:05 AM
  #8
J62
 
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Did they tell you there was no PIN for purchases or no PIN to get cash? Big difference. Very big difference. And are "they" (whoever told you this info) well informed. My guess is NOT.

One gets cash from an ATM (Bancomat in Italy) and I can't see how she could simply put a card in and get cash without a PIN.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 06:10 AM
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If there is no PIN she cannot use it to get cash. Only for purchases and I suspect the cards would work sometimes, not others. It could be a serious problem if the card doesn't work.

Has the school had this rule on previous trips or is this a first "fit it" for problems that happened before. Sounds like they are making things up as they go along.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 06:13 AM
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J62's post made me think -- perhaps they are confusing "chip & PIN" credit cards w/ regular, run-of-the-mill ATM/debit cards.

Still seems they don't know much about finances in Europe . . . .
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Sep 19th, 2009, 07:04 AM
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I would go back to the school and tell them that it is your experience that the most cost-effective and safe way for your daughter to get cash would be with an ATM card drawing on her travel bank account. See what their reaction/explanation is. You'll be able to understand if they are reacting to the tedious waiting times mentioned by J62 or just misinformed. I'd also check if it's a "rule" or a "recommendation" to do so.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 07:12 AM
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>>>Actually I went and checked out the gift card yesterday and they told me there is no PIN nor do they sign for anything...it is strickly a front loaded card.<<<

Not so. I went to an ATM in Italy with a person from Australia that had one of those VISA money cards. She had to enter a PIN to use it. The transaction did not complete and she was upset about it because she said she would be charged for the attempt of using it. She had lots of problems with the VISA money card.

If the VISA money card can also be used as a credit card without the use of PIN, then your daughter will have problems if she loses it or it's stolen and someone starts charging on it.

Your child's school really doesn't know what they are talking about. I would get my child the ATM card. The school won't know whether she is swiping a VISA money card or an ATM card when she gets cash since both will require PINs. How silly of them.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 07:31 AM
  #13
J62
 
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ATMs are ubiquitous in all cities in Italy.

If this were my daughter, this is what I would do, regardless of what the school advised. I would not debate with the school on this, nor inform them either.

I would send my DD with an ATM or ATM/debit card linked to a bank account that was in my name or both of ours. The account would have limited $ just for the trip.

I'd also send her with 200 euro (mix of bills) for 1st few days spending money so she didn't have to worry about an ATM upon arrival. If it cost me $20 to get the euros before departure I wouldn't care.

She could replenish her cash at her leisure, when the group is no longer in hurry up / all linked at the hip mode.

I would also send her with a cell phone all set to go for Italy. I'd buy (already have) a quad band phone on ebay (i.e. Moto V190 or something else) for about $20, get a SIM card over the internet so I'd have the number before she left.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 07:49 AM
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I find many of your responses have nothing to do with my question. I did not ask for other alternatives I want her to have the gift card for purchases...NOT CASH ADVANCES!!!!!!!

I find many of these responses are uncalled for and you are treating me like a idiot and questioning my parental skills as in "Are you sure you want to let your child travel with a school that knows so little about travel?" They are using a company that has done all the travel for DD's high school since at least 2002 when my DS went to the school with no problems and alot of happy travellers.

I also think I tend to believe the info I was given at the bank about no PIN. Not only was I verbally told, it is in the little brochure about the card. You just swipe it like a gift card you would get for any store.

They are basising the requests on what they experienced in the past.

I am not sure why someone can't come here and as a question with being talked down to.

For those with good intentions and tried to answer my questions I thank you very much for taking the time to help me.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 07:59 AM
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Huh!!?? No one said anything about YOU. We were all saying the school was giving you bum info.

But now that you mention it -- you did say "The school wants them to only use cash." So - we all naturally assumed you were talking about getting CASH w/ the gift card.

People were trying to give you useful advice.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 08:05 AM
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So we shouldn't point out your information is wrong? Do you not get that there is a big difference in getting cash from a card (PIN required) and using it to charge a purchase in a store? Do you understand that many places in Europe will want cash only? It's likely most of the places she will want to buy something will be cash only. Even many B&B's and restaurants in Europe are cash only.

>>>They are using a company that has done all the travel for DD's high school since at least 2002 when my DS went to the school with no problems and alot of happy travellers.<<<

Very funny. Like that company has your childs best interests at heart. They want to make money off of you and they can do this by selling you a VISA money card. Do you really think they aren't getting a kick-back if you link through their site to buy one? I'm very familiar with student travel (
ACIS, CHA, EF, Explorica, Passports, etc.) companies and all the little kick-backs they do to make money (VISA money cards, travel insurance, purchases in certain stores). You do know the teacher is getting $$$$ and a free trip for taking the kids don't you?

There have been many threads on this website about these VISA money cards and how they are a bad idea with bad exchange rates. You asked about experience, but what you really want is approval.

Visa Travelmoney Card
The Visa TravelMoney Card is sold in the United States by the American Automobile Association, National City, Travelex, US Bank, and other vendors (including at least two supermarket chains). Fees typically vary from US $4.95 to $9.95. You can order a second card for $2.00. There may also be an activation fee of $4.95, and you'll normally pay for shipping.

TravelMoney is available in various preloaded amounts, depending on where you're buying it. (Some vendors have minimums as low as $25 and maximum loads of $5,000 or $10,000.). Normally, you can reload the card at the vendor's Web site or by calling a toll-free number, with reload fees that can range from several dollars to $15.

Using the Travelmoney card is like using a credit or check card, and you can withdraw money from any ATM that displays the Visa logo. When we last checked, the fee per withdrawal was $2.50 in the U.S. or $2.00 in other countries. Warning: If you withdraw cash or make purchases in a currency other than the one on the card, you're hit with an eye-popping conversion fee of 7%. (You may even get hit with the 7% charge if you make a purchase in U.S. dollars outside of the United States.)
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Sep 19th, 2009, 08:07 AM
  #17
J62
 
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I missed the part about wanting the Visa Debit card for purchases, not to get cash. Thank you for clarifying. Mea culpa. Have a nice day.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 08:20 AM
  #18
 
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janis - How do you think they can get cash unless they use the card to get it? Where will the cash come from? I've taken groups of kids on these types of trips and the majority of their purchases will be from little stands that will not have any card capabilities.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 09:04 AM
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It seems all you want is validation for what is a VERY bad idea. I would wager that MANY of the purchases the kids will want to make on this trip will NOT be able to be made with that overpriced VISA card. I've taken students on trips to Europe. What they typically want to buy are cheap items from places that will want cash only. But since you don't seem to be willing to accept the advice of many veteran travelers here, go ahead and send her with it and see how things turn out. Check on the whereabouts of your nearest Western Union office.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 09:25 AM
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Well said, StCirq. I have not travelled as much as you have but I sure know that it is not uncommon in Italy for businesses to only accept cash, especially when the amount due is not a large amount. And I don't know for sure about Visa Gift Cards as I have never and would never use one but in Italy unlike in the US businesses can require the amount of purchase to be a certain amount before they will accept a credit card.
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