Travel Money Guide: Italy

Rates and Fees verified correct on December 4th, 2016

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

The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 foreign currencies to make purchases overseas at over 36 million locations.

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

    Compare travel cards for Italy

    Rates last updated December 4th, 2016
    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, CAD 3.00, EUR 2.20, GBP 2.00, HKD 20.00, JPY 260, NZD 4.50, SGD 4.00, THB 95, USD 2.50 1.1% of the value purchased $0 Go to site More
    NAB Traveller Card
    NAB Traveller Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD $0 per withdrawal on international ATMs and $3.75 per withdrawal at any Australian ATMs $0 $0 Go to site More
    Cash Passport MasterCard
    Cash Passport MasterCard
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD $2.50 for withdrawals made overseas 2.95% of the amount withdrawn for domestic withdrawals $0 $0 Go to site More
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    Qantas Card with 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
    Travelex Travel Card
    Travelex Travel Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD Travelex does not charge an ATM withdrawal fee when you use your Travelex Multi-currency Cash Passport to withdraw currencies that are loaded on the card at overseas ATMs where MasterCard is accepted. The greater of 1.1% of the initial load / reload amount or AU$15.00 $0 Go to site More
    Rates last updated December 4th, 2016
    Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Annual fee
    Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard
    An introductory offer on balance transfers with $0 annual fee. Complimentary travel insurance & 24/7 Concierge service and $0 foreign transaction fees.
    0% of transaction value $0 $0 p.a. Go to site More info
    28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard
    Benefit from no international transaction fees on purchases, no currency conversion fees and no annual fee.
    0% of transaction value $0 $0 p.a. Go to site More info
    Rates last updated December 4th, 2016
    $
    Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
    St.George Complete Freedom Account
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Visa $0 $2,000 No account keeping fees, if you deposit $2,000 per month plus no minimum balance required. No ATM fees when using St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Open More
    Westpac Choice
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 No ATM fees when using St.George, Westpac, BankSA or Bank of Melbourne ATMs in Australia. Deposit at least $2,000 per month and enjoy no monthly service fee. Open More
    Bank of Melbourne Express Freedom
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Visa $0 $1,000 No ATM fees when you use Bank of Melbourne, St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. No monthly fees if you deposit $1000 into your account each month. Open More
    Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
    No overseas ATM withdrawal fees (charged by Bankwest), 3rd party ATM fees and international transaction fees may still apply.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 No monthly fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Free access to Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. No overseas ATM withdrawal fees (charged by Bankwest) though third party fees may apply. Open More
    Citibank Plus Everyday Account
    No international transaction fees and no overseas ATM withdrawals fees if you use a Citibank ATM overseas.
    Visa $0 $0 No ATM fees using Citibank, Westpac, BankSA and St.George branded ATMs in Australia. Use overseas Citibank ATMs for free. 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
    20160.654243
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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
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    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 ATM's 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 16 November 2016 at 17:27.

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