Travel Money Guide: Italy

Rates and fees last updated on

Ciao, Amico! Travelling to Italy? Start comparing your travel money options and prep your wallet for all of the pasta, pizza and gelato you’ll need to pay for on your holiday.

Traveller’s advice on some of the best ways bring, access and spend travel money in Italy: As a Eurozone member state, the official currency of Italy is the euro. Compared to countries like France, Germany and the UK, Italy is still somewhat a cash based economy. Don’t think you’re going to be paying cash all the time, though. Shops and merchants in Italy are well equipped to accept card payments (Visa and Mastercard are more common than American Express) — the uptake of contactless payment technology increases year on year.

The good news for Australian travellers is Italian bancomat machines (bank ATMs) will let you get cash out for free. Just look for a card that doesn’t charge for international ATM withdrawals (and currency conversion) and you’ll have a hassle and low-cost holiday in what is arguably one of the most beautiful countries on Earth.

Which option is right for your next trip?

ANZ Travel Card

ANZ Travel Card

  • Load up to 10 currencies
  • Lock in your exchange rates
  • No overseas transaction fees

ANZ Travel Card

The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 currencies to make purchases overseas at over 38 million merchants and over 2.3 million ATMs worldwide.

  • Lock in your exchange rates and know how much money you have to spend
  • No transaction fees for electronic purchases when using foreign currency
  • Multiple reload options - online, over the phone or in person
  • Manage your money online or over the phone 24/7
  • Spare card if in case one is lost or stolen

Go to site

Compare travel cards for Italy

Rates last updated August 18th, 2017
Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
ANZ Travel Card
ANZ Travel Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260 1.1% of the value purchased $0 Go to site More
Qantas Cash
Qantas Cash
AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50 $0 $0 Go to site More
NAB Traveller Card
NAB Traveller Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD

Overseas: $0 per withdrawal via international ATMs

Domestic: $3.75 fee applies

$0 $0 Go to site More
St.George Global Currency Card
St.George Global Currency Card
AUD, HKD, USD, SGD, GBP, JPY, EUR, THB, NZD, ZAR, CAD AUD 2.00 USD 2.00 GBP 1.50 EUR 2.00 NZD 3.00 CAD 2.50 HKD 15.00 SGD 3.00 JPY 200 THB 75.00 ZAR 20.00 $0 $0 Go to site More
Westpac Global Currency Card
Westpac Global Currency Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD, ZAR

Non-Westpac Group ATM in Australia / non-Global Alliance ATM overseas: AUD 2.00, USD 2.00, GBP 1.50, EUR 2.00. NZD 3.00, CAD 2.50, HKD 15.00, SGD 3.00, JPY 200, THB 75.00, ZAR 20.00

Over 50k ATMs (Global ATM Alliance network & Westpac): $0

Transferring through another financial institution (BPAY) may attract a transaction fee. $0 Go to site More
Cash Passport Mastercard
Cash Passport Mastercard
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD USD 2.50, EUR 2.50, GBP 2.00, NZD 3.50, THB 80.00, CAD 3.50, HKD 18.00, JPY 260.00, SGD 3.50, AUD 3.50 $0 $0 Go to site More
Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport
Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport
AUD, NZD, USD, EUR, GBP, THB, SGD, CAD, HKD, JPY Overseas: $0

Domestic: 2.95% of the amount withdrawn

$5 $0 Go to site More

Rates last updated August 17th, 2017
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
The greater of 2% or $4.00
$0 p.a.
An introductory offer on balance transfers, plus complimentary travel insurance & access to a 24/7 Concierge service.
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Designed for travel, benefit from no international transaction fees on purchases and no currency conversion fees.
Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
2% or $4.00, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
Enjoy a high credit limit with complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Bankwest Qantas World Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$270 p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases and receive complimentary travel insurance.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated August 18th, 2017
$
Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
$0 Overseas ATM withdrawal fees charged by Bankwest. Third party ATM fees and international transaction fees may still apply.
Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Otherwise, a $6 monthly fee applies. Unlimited Free withdrawals at Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. Go to site More
Westpac Choice
$0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 monthly fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More
St.George Complete Freedom Account
$0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
Visa $0 $0 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $0 per month. Otherwise, a $5 fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More

How many euros do I need to bring to Rome?

High summer season premiums will add to the cost of an Italian trip, but the cost of living and travel varies depending on where you are in the country. In smaller towns, especially in the South, Italy is surprisingly affordable. In the middle of the country and the north and especially in touristic places like Rome, Venice and Milan, it can be expensive. If you go to Italy during high season (late June, July and August) expect to pay a premium for everything. Off-season, prices drop dramatically.

Find out some typical Roman holiday prices

BudgetMidrangeExpensive
bldg

Camping in Rome

$12 per night

2 Star hotel in Rome
$70 - $140 per night
5 star hotel in Rome
$180 - $600 per night
utensilTrapizzino: $5
Sandwich: $4 - $6
Dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant with wine
$80
5 star restaurant
$100 - $600
cameraColosseum entry
$17
Rome and Colosseum 1/2 Day Walking Tour
$70
Imperial Rome golf cart tour
$180

*Prices are for example purposes only.

Exchange rate history

Following a period of instability during the global financial crisis, one Australian dollar has been worth about 0.65 to 0.70 euro cents. Predicting the movements of the currency pair is difficult at best. You can lock in the exchange rate on a travel card if you believe euros will be more expensive to buy in the future.

YearAverage annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Euro (EUR)
20120.806041
20130.728778
20140.679508
20150.677914
20160.672243
20170.693283
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Should it be a travel card, a debit card or a credit card?

Credit cards and debit cards with travel features are just as suitable to take on a trip to Italy and Europe as a prepaid travel money card. You can use your Visa or Mastercard branded card in Italy without issue, American Express card charge a higher surcharge and are accepted in fewer places. You can use your card to pay for train tickets, souvenirs at gift shops, hotels, trattorias (Italian eateries), restaurants and more. The range of merchants which accept cards is similar to Australia. You’ll need cash to pay for street food, taxis, to pay tour guides and for purchases under €10 - €20, for example, so avoiding the international ATM transaction fee should be a factor when you’re comparing options.

A quick summary of travel money options in Italy

Travel money optionProsConsiderations
Debit cards for travel
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Using your debit card overseas offers the convenience of having access to your own money, without needing a separate ‘travel account’.
  • The right debit card will give you cheap and convenient access to cash.
  • Compare and choose carefully — the wrong debit card can charge you excessively.
  • International ATM charges on most everyday transaction accounts are extremely high.
  • Not a credit product. No emergency funds available though a cash advance facility.
Prepaid travel money cards
  • Pre-load Euro and spend in Italy without incurring fees for currency conversion
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Accepted worldwide
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
  • Reloadable with your own money to help you keep track of your spending
  • While travel cards do not charge for international transactions (currency conversion fees), you may still be charged for ATM withdrawals.
  • Reload fees could be high
  • Foreign exchange rates are usually less competitive than other personal finance products.
Credit cards for travel
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Access to funds up to your credit limit
  • Accepted worldwide
  • No currency conversion/ transaction fees
  • Interest free days when you pay your account in full
  • Travel-friendly features, like complimentary travel insurance and car rental excess cover
  • Emergency card replacement
  • Can charge high withdrawal and cash advance fees
  • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
  • Attracts an annual fee
Traveller's cheques
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
  • Photo I.D. needed to cash cheques
  • Many banks in Italy will refuse to cash traveller’s cheques.
  • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
Cash
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

How travel money products work in Italy

Using prepaid travel money cards

Preload a travel card with euros and spend in euros and you'll avoid the fees that usually go hand in hand with international purchases. Compare these cards by their ATM fees, initial load and reload fees. Most ATMs in Italy don’t charge an ATM operator fee, by choosing a product which waives the international ATM withdrawal fee, you can access your money at Italian bancomat machines and spend over the counter without paying any additional fees or charges.

  • Tip: A travel card lets you lock in the exchange rate when you transfer funds between different currencies. This feature can be handy if you think it will become more expensive to purchase euros during your trip.

Using debit cards

Travel friendly debit cards waive the 3% fee for currency conversion when you transact in euros. Unlike travel cards, there’s no need to manage exchanging foreign currency before you spend and the card scheme (Visa or Mastercard) daily exchange rate applies. This is usually the most competitive rate you can get on a personal finance product (credit card transactions in a foreign currency also use this rate).

The Citibank Plus Transaction Account is currently the only travel friendly debit product on offer in Australia. This travel debit account waives the fee for currency conversion, you won’t pay for international ATM withdrawals and there is no monthly charge to keep the account. Use this product to make cash withdrawals from Italian bank ATMs (Italian bank ATMs don’t charge for withdrawals) and you can access cash in Italy for roughly the same price you would at home.

  • Tip: Italy has been slower to adopt contactless technology than France, Germany and U.K. However, you can use your CHIP debit card to make contactless payments at Italian supermarkets, i.e. Carrefour, Auchan, Spar etc., fast food chains like Mcdonald's, some restaurants and bars. Merchants in Italy allow contactless payments of just a couple of euros.
  • Tip: You can use a debit card with a magnetic strip in Italy. However, your debit card will work in more places if it has a CHIP. A debit card with a CHIP will work at unmanned point of sale terminals such as petrol stations, ticket kiosks, toll booths and parking payment machines.

Using credit cards

Credit cards offer up to 55 days interest-free on purchases when you pay your balance in full by the statement due date. This gives you time to make purchases without paying any interest. Credit cards also offer perks such as complimentary international travel insurance and purchase protection insurance, which is money that would have been an out of pocket expense.

Credit cards which waive the fee for currency conversion can be used over the counter for purchases and you won’t pay any additional fees. There are credit cards that don’t charge for international ATM withdrawals. Cash advance charges and interest apply when you use your card at an ATM — a cash advance should be avoided if you’re conscious of saving on unnecessary charges. So you might want to use a debit card or travel card to withdraw from ATMs instead.

  • Tip: A no currency conversion fee rewards credit card can be a good way to rack up frequent flyer or rewards points when you’re in Italy.
  • Tip: Make sure you tell your bank about your travel plans in Italy and Europe. Your card provider may put a block on your account if they see a transaction in another country.

Using traveller's cheques

Traveller’s cheques have been replaced by prepaid travel money cards. Many banks in Italy will refuse to cash traveller’s cheques, so don’t bother with this travel money product. Make bancomat (ATM) withdrawals instead.

Taking cash with you

Italy is a cash based society compared to other major economies in Europe, Australia and North America.  You can still use your card in almost as many places as you would in Australia and other countries; however, there’s a reluctance among Italians to let go of cash as a method of payment for things like rent, food, clothing and so on.

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Interview with Frank in Italy

OurTeam_Frank

On a trip to Europe, Frank visited Italy on his way to Greece. Coming from France, he visited The Last Supper in Milan, he headed East to see the canals of Venice and finished his Italian adventure with the Colosseum and Vatican City in Rome.

What cards did you take with you?

Frank says he took these cards on his trip through Europe.

Why did you take these cards?

Bankwest. Frank uses Bankwest for his day to day banking in Australia.

  • Qantas Transaction Account. The Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account racks up the points both at home and abroad, although he didn’t use the card in Europe, he took it as his backup in case something happened to the Citibank Plus Visa Debit Card.
  • Qantas Platinum Mastercard. He used the Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard for over the counter purchases when he could, it rewarded him with 0.75 Qantas Points per Aussie dollar spent. This card also gave him free travel insurance when he paid for his return airfare to Europe. He paid his credit card from his Bankwest Transaction Account so he could make the most of the card’s interest free days.

Citibank. The Citibank Plus Transaction Account gave Frank free ATM withdrawals when he needed cash from the ATM. Citibank didn’t charge for currency conversion or for international ATM withdrawals, and bank ATMs don’t charge an operator fee like ATMs in Australia. This meant that Frank was able to use the Citi Plus Visa Debit Card for cheap cash withdrawals when he needed cash (he says you will need cash in Italy). He made a BPAY payment to the Citi card from his Bankwest transaction account when he needed to top up his travel budget. It took a couple of days for the payment to clear.

Where could you use your cards?

Frank says that he was able to use his card for most purchases over €20. He stopped at small cafes for coffee, bars for beer and some small hole in the restaurants quite often, these establishments were cash only.

Did you use ATMs?

Frank says he made cash withdrawals frequently in Italy. Italian bancomats don’t charge a fee to use the machine and his Citi Visa Debit Card gave him free international ATM withdrawals (and no charge for currency conversion) so he wasn’t too concerned about making multiple withdrawals over the length of his stay in Italy.

Frank had read on the net that he might have had problems using his card to withdraw cash in Italy. He didn’t have a problem in Milan, Madrid or Rome.

What is your travel money recommendation for Italy?

Frank says you can’t go wrong using the Citibank Plus Transaction Account in Italy and Europe.

Do you have any travel money tips for Italy?

  • Cash prices. Frank says it can be surprising how the price can drop if you choose to pay cash over card. He says always ask how much if you pay cash at restaurants and when you’re buying bulk.
  • Stand to drink. Frank says stand up to drink your coffee. By taking a seat at a cafe or bar, the price can double or triple.
  • Get away from the tourist areas. Especially in Rome, the further away you are from the main tourist hot spots, the less you’ll pay.
  • Train speed and prices. Fast trains between cities cost twice as much as the regular train. Frank says he enjoyed taking the slow train because it gave him time to see the countryside. Like most things, prices are cheaper the further your book in advance.
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Buying currency in Australia

There’s no limit to the amount of foreign currency you can bring into the Italy or the Eurozone. However, you’re going to have to declare your cash if you’re taking more than €10,000. You have the following options for purchasing euros in Australia.

A quick comparison of bank and non bank providers shows that if you use the foreign cash services of a company like Travelex, you’ll end up a couple of dollars better off in the long run. Non-bank providers like Travelex also have locations at major Australian airports where you can collect your euros before you depart the country.

Making ATM withdrawals

The best way to get cash in Italy is to make an ATM withdrawal when you arrive. The Visa or Mastercard exchange rate applies and is better than any rate you’re likely to get exchanging currency at an exchange office or a bank.

Italian bank ATMs are called bancomats and do not charge a local ATM operator fee, avoid using independent ATMs. These third party ATMs charge like a wounded bull and you can usually find these machines alongside bank ATMs. It will be obvious which ATMs are affiliated with a bank and which aren’t.

Tips:

  • Italian bank ATMs generally have a maximum withdrawal limit somewhere between €250 - €300 per day and you can select English as a language option when you insert your card.
  • Tip: Westpac cardholders (that’s Westpac, St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA) can avoid the international ATM withdrawal fee by using BNP Paribas ATMs in Italy.

Find cash and ATMs in Italy

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

A combination of the products compared on this page is the best approach to taking travel money to Italy. It’s advised that you take more than one way to withdraw cash as there have been anecdotal reports Italian ATMs can be temperamental with foreign cards. You don’t want to be caught without access to your money in the event a card is lost or stolen.

There are few destinations that evoke history and romance quite like Italy. It’s no surprise then, that Italy is one of the planet’s most visited countries in the world. Every year, tourists flock to Italy to enjoy themselves among some of the finest and longest living monuments to human civilisation; revel in the richness of it’s art and culture, and eat and drink to their heart’s content. Make your holiday memorable for all the right reasons and travel with peace of mind that you’re getting the most from your budget with a travel card, credit card or debit card.

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Find travel insurance for your trip to Italy

The thought of taking out travel insurance can be a bit of buzzkill if your planning an Italian getaway but it is still critical to get the right cover in place. It doesn't matter how cautious you are while travelling, nobody is exempt from the risk of suffering losses while travelling. Travel insurance can offer financial protection against such losses as;

  • Trip cancellation charges
  • Lost/stolen valuables
  • Medical emergencies including evacuation and hospital stay
  • Car rental excess cover
  • Personal liability

Use the form below to compare travel insurance quotes from a range of insurers. Get access to exclusive coupon codes.

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This page was last modified on 17 August 2017 at 4:15pm.

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