Dealing with Money, How to Pay for Things When Traveling in Italy (2023)

Dealing with Money, How to Pay for Things When Traveling in Italy (1)

(Video) How to Deal with Money When You Travel

It’s not easy tricky to travel on a budget but with the changing Global market it is getting easier to use our money. When traveling to Italy you should keep the following tips in mind.


First, I recommend that you have a couple hundred EUROS with you before you leave the US. That is to ensure that you have some cash handy for your first expenses: taxi cab, sandwich, phone calls, etc., most small shops do not take a credit card for small payments. Also during your entire travel I would suggest this small amount to be kept and pay with your credit card as much as possible. Each Region you travel in will have different quantity of Bancomat dispersed in a town, the Euro is the ONLY currency used in Italy.

(Video) Do's and Don'ts of money while traveling: tips for local currency and credit cards


ATMs (Bancomats) are the best way to take cash out once you are in Italy, but the daily limit is 250 Euros (banks do that to prevent fraudulent transactions), so again, make sure you have enough cash before you leave. 
Banks have very strange hours to say the least (some, but not all, follow this schedule: 8:20am-1:20pm and then from 2:35pm-4:05pm), so it’s not always easy to find one open while you’re out. Make sure to tell your local bank the dates you will be gone so your check card doesn’t get blocked!! Also, make sure your PIN number will be good overseas, some banks require a different PIN, so again, ask your local branch. DO NOT take Traveler's Cheques, they are VERY hard to change, many banks off the tourist track do not accept, so avoid the whole trouble by not taking any.


(Video) How to Travel Internationally with Money / Cash - The Ultimate Guide

Most stores in the bigger cities take credit cards, but not the majority when you’re in a small town. Also, stores are more willing to give you a small discount on price if you pay cash! MasterCard and VISA are the most commonly accepted cards. You will get a better exchange rate by using your credit card, as opposed to exchanging US dollars in Italy. Keep in mind that if you pay cash, you're more likely to get a discount in an independently owned store, if you ask for it. However, when you pay by credit card you'll be able to track your spending better and dispute a charge. Each credit card company has their own policy about international exchange rates and many may even add an international exchange fee on top of the exchange rate. Make sure you check with your bank or credit card company about their policy.


A note: use your credit card, use ATM machines (which in Italy are called “BANCOMAT”), but don’t exchange your cash dollars, unless it’s an emergency, because shops will give you a terrible rate and you’ll end up paying a commission. Stay away for the exchange booths in the Airports near train stations in the major cities. You will not find Money Change Shops in smaller cities and most smaller bank branches do not even have dollars on hand. Remember, can you just walk into any American bank and exchange for Euro's?

(Video) Italy travel tips: carrying documents and money


A great way to save money is to fill out a “Tax Free Form”, which you can ask for in many retail shops around Italy. The 20% SALES TAX (VAT) is already INCLUDED in the merchandise that you are purchasing, so if an item is 10 Euros, that is what you’ll be paying at the register (tax is not added at time of payment like in the USA). You will need to fill out this form completely, with your address, passport number, and other personal information, but this is legal and controlled by the government.
 The Italian government encourages foreigners to spend by refunding a little over 13% of the sales tax. In order to qualify there is a minimum purchase amount of 150 Euros, either as a single item or total purchase price of multiple items in one single store. By filling out the form and keeping the original receipt, you can present it and the tax form at the airport information desk at your departure airport. You will get roughly 13% refund of the tax you’ve paid on the reciepts you present. The refund is given as either cash (Euros or Dollars) or by crediting your credit card (this may take longer while the cash refund is instant). Note that this refund doesn’t apply to food expenses, restaurants, hotels, car rentals, and other tourist services.


What is the best way to pay for things in Italy? ›

MasterCard and VISA are the most commonly accepted cards. You will get a better exchange rate by using your credit card, as opposed to exchanging US dollars in Italy. Keep in mind that if you pay cash, you're more likely to get a discount in an independently owned store, if you ask for it.

Should I exchange money before I travel to Italy? ›

Resist the urge to buy foreign currency before your trip.

Some tourists feel like they just have to have euros or British pounds in their pockets when they step off the airplane, but they pay the price in bad stateside exchange rates. Wait until you arrive to withdraw money.

Should you use cash or card in Italy? ›

First, understand that Italy is a very cash-oriented society, so make sure you never end up with zero cash in your wallet. To buy small things, like coffee, you'll need cash. You'll also need cash at all outdoor markets, for most taxis, and at many restaurants.

Is it better to get euros or use debit card? ›

Advantages of an overseas card

The main advantage of using a debit or credit card overseas is that you won't pay foreign transaction fees every time you spend. While many also won't charge fees for cash withdrawals, you will still usually be charged interest from the date of the transaction if you use a credit card.

How do Americans pay for things in Italy? ›

In Italy, cash is still preferred in most restaurants, cafes and other establishments, although credit and debit cards are becoming more widely used throughout Italy and are an increasingly convenient way to pay for things. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, although American Express is not.

Is it better to pay in euros or dollars in Italy? ›

If you use a US credit card in France, Italy, Spain, or another European country, you may be wondering whether to pay in euros or dollars on an American credit card. The short answer is: Always pay in the local currency (Euros), which allows your bank to set the exchange rate, and it will always be a better option.

How much cash should I carry in Italy? ›

As Italy is a part of the European Union, official Italy currency is Euro. Of course, you don't need to pay by cash all the time as cards are very popular in Italy as well. However, we advise having at least 40-50 Euros per person just to stay worry-free and avoid rushing in order to track down the nearest ATM.

How much money should I bring to Italy for 10 days? ›

So how much does it cost to go to Italy? For ten days in Italy including three major cities and two day trips, you can expect to pay about $2,600 USD which is actually more than a month long trip to Southeast Asia. While this may seem like a lot, if you plan to visit Italy, you should budget accordingly.

Will my cell phone work in Italy? ›

(This is because Europe uses different frequencies than the U.S.; so-called "world phones" are designed to work on all three, or four, major frequencies.) So, if you have a smartphone—iPhone or Android—it will most likely work, since they are equipped with all the antennas.

Is it OK to wear jeans in Italy? ›

Are jeans appropriate to wear in Italy? While Europeans tend to dress up more than Americans, you still can wear jeans in Italy. However, avoid acid wash and extremely distressed denim and opt for medium-dark blues and blacks. Black skinny jeans always look chic in Europe!

How do you pay at a restaurant in Italy? ›

Italians pay with cash much more often than Americans do, so unless you're at a very fancy restaurant where the bill may be quite large, be prepared to pay for your meal in cash.

What is the best card to use in Italy? ›

The most widely used cards are Visa and Mastercard. American Express and Discover are less frequently accepted. Many places in Italy now accept contactless payment methods like Apple Pay.

Should I get euros at airport or from ATM? ›

Key Takeaways. Currency exchange shops and kiosks in airports are not the best places to exchange money. For the best rates, try a local bank or a bank ATM to make your currency exchanges.

Is it cheaper to buy euros in the US or in Europe? ›

If buying euros in advance, whatever you do, don't overdo it! In almost every case, euros you can get abroad from an ATM will be cheaper than those you can get back in the States. When buying in advance, get just enough to give you a comfortable cushion and get you through a day's worth of emergency expenses.

What is the cheapest way to buy euros? ›

Banks and credit unions are generally the best places to exchange currency, with reasonable exchange rates and the lowest fees.

Are US dollars accepted in Italy? ›

You can only pay with euros in Italy. Dollars or other hard currency is not accepted outside of banks/ change offices. At most, foreign currency is accepted at a high conversion ratio as a courtesy.

Can you tip with US dollars in Italy? ›

Whenever you tip during your trip to Italy it is important to use the local currency, that is - Euros. Otherwise you'll leave your service providers with cash they can't use without paying high fees on currency exchange.

How much is $100 US in Italy? ›

100 US Dollar = 40818835 Italian Lira (ITL)

How many euros should I take to Italy for a week? ›

Budget to spend around €450 for two for a week in Italy. This assumes you're cooking some of the time and drinking some alcohol. If you enjoy eating out, you can expect to pay around €65 for a nice dinner for two, including an alcoholic drink.

Can you pay in euros with an American credit card? ›

Yes. Depending on your issuer and the merchant your transaction is at, you may be charged both a foreign transaction fee and a currency conversion fee.

What can you not bring to Italy? ›

Italy Prohibited and Restricted Items
  • All forms of asbestos fibers.
  • All products containing the biocide dimethylfumarate (DMF)
  • Animal skins.
  • Atlantic red tuna fish (Thunnus Thynnus) originating from Belize, Panama, and Honduras.
  • Biological Substance Cat B, UN3373.
  • Books: hardback/paperback non-comm.

How much tip should you give in Italy? ›

When it comes to tipping at restaurants, Italians will tell you they only tip on truly exceptional service or when dining in the finest restaurants. Even then, they usually only tip an extra 10 to 15 percent, or often just the change left over from the bill.

How much is breakfast in Italy? ›

The first main difference in terms of cost of food in Rome begins with breakfast. Italians tend to shoot their espressos and eat their cornetti right at the bar. Coffee usually costs €1, a cappuccino around €1.20 and pastries are usually €1–2. So plan out an average of €3 for breakfast.

How much money should I bring to Italy for 2 weeks? ›

Those looking to experience Italy on a shoestring could spend two weeks here for around €1,320 ($1,420) excluding flights. However, if you're looking to avoid hostels & dine at the occasional restaurant or two, a €2,000 budget per person (excluding flights) is likely a more realistic figure.

What time of year is cheapest to go to Italy? ›

If you want to save as much as you can on your trip, the best time to visit Italy on a budget is during February and November. These are the cheapest months to fly to Italy, making your airfare much lower than any other time of year.

Can I use my USA phone in Italy? ›

Almost all phones should work in Italy. Just check to see if your mobile phone supports GSM 900 and GSM 1800 frequencies. If travelling from outside the EU, it is worth making sure you have an international call package with your mobile phone provider before visiting Italy.

How can I avoid roaming charges in Italy? ›

Play it safe and turn roaming off

Most of the major networks (with the exception of O2) have reintroduced roaming charges for travel within Europe, so the easiest way to avoid charges while abroad is simply to turn roaming off.

Is it free to use my phone in Italy? ›

Italy is a Go Roam in Europe destination which means you can use your data here at no extra cost.

Do I pay at the table in Italy? ›

Italians pay with cash much more often than Americans do, so unless you're at a very fancy restaurant where the bill may be quite large, be prepared to pay for your meal in cash.

What payment apps work in Italy? ›

Mastercard, Visa, Maestro/Bancomat, American Express. Alternative payment methods like Paypal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay ™ are also growing in popularity.

How can I avoid ATM fees in Italy? ›

How to Avoid ATM Fees When Traveling Abroad
  1. Use an ATM in Your Bank's International Network. ...
  2. Use Your Debit Card to Get Cash Back at a Store. ...
  3. Don't Use the ATM's Conversion Offer. ...
  4. Use a Bank That Doesn't Charge International ATM Fees. ...
  5. Use a Bank That Refunds ATM Fees. ...
  6. Use a Credit Card Without a Foreign Transaction Fee.
Nov 3, 2022

Will I get charged using my debit card in Italy? ›

As a rule, debit cards are more widespread and commonly accepted in Italy so if you pay with Visa and MasterCard you'll have no particular difficulties. The only problem with a debit card is that a withdrawal from an ATM can cost you 5$ on average.

Will I get charged for using my debit card abroad? ›

You may be charged for using your debit or credit card abroad to buy something or when you withdraw cash in a foreign currency. What you'll pay depends on the transaction you make and the card you use.

How much cash should I bring to Italy? ›

Bring $100-200 USD cash, but keep it stashed away and don't change into Euro. It's only to be used as a fallback if every ATM in the country is out of order at the same time. Use ATMs to withdraw Euro from cash machine in the airport upon arrival, and replenish your Euro supply at an ATM when you run low.

Do you ask for the bill in Italy? ›

Getting the bill at a restaurant

When your waiter brings you a bill (remember, you have to ask for it!), make sure that it's itemized. (Again, ask for “il conto dettagliato” or ““il conto lungo“). Sometimes, restaurants will just write a total number down, or even just say it.

How do you say tip in Italy? ›

In Italy, a tip (or una mancia, pronounced oo-nah MAN-chah)—whether given to restaurant servers or hotel employees—is considered a bonus for exceptional service.

Do you tip in Italy for dinner? ›

What is the rule for tipping in Italy? There is no strict rule about tipping in Italy. Leaving a tip is a courteous gesture that shows the person who provided a service to you, that you appreciated their help. As such, leaving a tip is entirely up to you and, in many cases, it will not be expected, albeit appreciated.

Is Zelle used in Italy? ›

No, Zelle® can only be used to send funds to someone who has a bank account in the United States.

Do they have Zelle in Italy? ›

Zelle isn't an option for international money transfers because both the sender and recipient of a Zelle payment need a US based bank account and mobile phone number.

Can I pay in cash Italian? ›

pagare in contanti {vb} [ex.]

Is it cheaper to exchange money or use ATM? ›

If you need foreign currency while traveling outside of the U.S., ATMs are your best bet for bills you can spend locally. ATMs tend to offer competitive exchange rates, and you can save on ATM fees by withdrawing more cash than you need instead of withdrawing smaller sums several times during your trip.

Which ATMs are free in Italy? ›

Free ATMs in Italy

BNL (Banca Nazionale del Lavoro) is the only Italian bank that currently participates in the Global ATM Alliance, which is a global network of banks that waive international ATM access fees.


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