Hi all! I'm going to be going to Italy for 10 days and I've picked up from this board that using credit cards (and paying them off right away) is the best way to get good exchange rates. Is there a card that is best? I actually have Visa, MC, or AmEx available and I was wondering if there are any benefits with using one over the others. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,Rebecca
I'm going to be going to Italy for 10 days and I've picked up from this board that using credit cards (and paying them off right away) is the best way to get good exchange rates. Don't believe it. I took this advice last month when I went to England. Big mistake. I was assured *everyone* takes credit cards, no problems. NOT! From restaurants to hotel post-card sellers, I ran into lots of places that either didn't take credit cards or whined about how much longer it would take to run my card through than to take cash in pounds/pence.I had to borrow pounds from better-prepared friends and ferret out the correct cash machine that took my cirrus ATM card (thank god I brought that!) Take *at least* $100 worth of your destination country's money, buying it from your local bank at home. Our tour didn't even stop to take a breath at an exchange station in the London airport for chrissake.I'll tell you who is guaranteed to take credit cards! -- the tourist attraction gift shops! No problem there! I could buy all the clotted cream chocolate and guide books I wanted with VISA!
Just spent New Year's in Italy, so I have a little experience. Take some spacebucks, I mean lira with you to be prepared for the little things that pop up. We called the money spacebucks because $6.00 equals about 10,000.00 lira and it gets funny when dealing with so many zeros that we would not even consider it actual cash. I used Visa/MC to pay for such things as train tickets and hotels or hostels. Those were the places that it was most useful to charge the expense because it would have taken almost all the cash on hand to pay for the bill. Also be prepared that some places in Italy, like the train station, still uses carbons for credit card purchase, so don't be surprised when a charge finally appears on your statement a month after you return to the States.etm123P.S. Word of wisdom, if you don't already know it, avoid train travel on Fridays and Sundays, those are the busiest days were all the seats are already reserved. In Italy, they will always sale you a train ticket regardless of how full it is and it can get rather full. Also, take IC trains unless you want to stop at every single stop along the way to your destination.
Credit cards are good for buying things overseas...if they're accepted. Be prepared for a place which has all the CC logos out front to mysteriously be unable to take your card.You may want to check with your isuing banks as to what their policies are for overseas purchases. Some places limit the amount you can buy per day or per week. They might be able to change that if you contact them first.And watch out for banks that impose a 2% surcharge on overseas purchases. (MC or Visa imposes a 2% surcharge, but the exchange rate is so much better that it's worth it. But with a double surcharge it's less of a deal.)Of course, never use a CC to get cash from an ATM - bring an ATM card for that, and get a few days' cash out at a time.
The best card to use for traveling overseas is none. Europeans aren't big on credit the way Americans are. You'll be lucky to find any eateries or vendors who accept them. Use traveller's checks instead.Cherry
The best card to use for traveling overseas is none. Europeans aren't big on credit the way Americans are.This is completly false.I travel to Europe ALOT and while the smaller pub and resturants have a little trouble with CC it is because of the Banks Charges for the service.The magor Hotels, Airlins and Car rental services and the bigger resturants will take a credit card just fine. AND you will get a better exchange rate.Remember that there is TWO exchange rates for most of the countries. US to Euro and then Euro to Whatever.Bring all three. AMEX is not real popular and I have had the best experience with VISA but MAsterCard is popular in Germany.BUT also get some cash and checks or cheques are indeed worthess.john
CherryCAS said: "The best card to use for traveling overseas is none. Europeans aren't big on credit the way Americans are. You'll be lucky to find any eateries or vendors who accept them. Use traveller's checks instead."I think this depends a *lot* on the specific destination...I spent 2.5 months in Paris this winter, and almost everyone took Visa/MC; the only exceptions were places like open air vegetable markets where I would never expect to use plastic anyway. And the exchange rate was *fantastic*, way better than the best cash/travellers checks rates I could find. And I did not see a surcharge on my MC purchases...maybe it was well-buried but even so the rate beat cash conversion handily. We did find that only about 50% of the places that take plastic will take Amex.This spring I spent a week in a tiny costal town in southern Italy, and even though it was small it got enough tourist trade that the major places (restaurants, boutiques) took Visa/MC.So as long as you are going to cities, or even small towns that have seen tourists before, I think you should first check that you won't be surcharged, then bring a Visa or MC with you and use it when you can, but make sure you have a local currency stash for small stuff and an occasional no-plastic-accepted place.pins
And, one more thing.Call your issuing CC company before you go and tell them you are going and when and for how long. I called my CC company to make sure I wasn't going to get charged the aformementioned surcharges and they said it was a good thing I called so that they knew that my card hadn't suddenly got stolen and whisked off to the UK by thieves. SOme card companies these days take it upon themselves to suspect fraud if they start seeing purchases outside the realm of the card-holder's normal buys. Then your purchase gets rejected and you're really up a crick without a paddle.The "don't use travelers' checks -- the exchange rate is a ripoff" advice came from this or another TMF message board back in April or May while I was planning my trip. That's why I didn't buy any.
I traveled in Europe last month and used my MasterCard. I didn't have any trouble using it in resturants in France or Italy. One thing, is there is usually a minimum amount that you have to charge in order to be able to us the card. You might want to inquire if there is a minimum before you order anything. I was also able to us the card in museums in London and Paris. I suspect it depends whether you are going to be in a big city or off the beaten track.Have a great time, I sure did.Valerie
Hi all! I'm going to be going to Italy for 10 days and I've picked up from this board that using credit cards (and paying them off right away) is the best way to get good exchange rates. Is there a card that is best? I actually have Visa, MC, or AmEx available and I was wondering if there are any benefits with using one over the others. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.In Europe Visa is the most widely accepted from my own unscientific observation. A few things to remember too:1. In Europe and Asia credit cards aren't as widely accepted as in the US. Have cash too.2. Get your foreign cash from ATM's over there, it gives the best rate with no commissions. If you don't have a PIN for your card, get one. 3. You probably can even take money out of your own bank account with your ATM. I have in London, Oslo, Abu Dhabi, and Runkel (Germany). You do pay a fee, but it is convenient.4. Make sure your credit limit is enough, you don't want to be embarrassed, or not be able to get a hotel room.Have fun in Italy!George
And I did not see a surcharge on my MC purchasesI never saw a surcharge on my VISA account, either, while in India, Germany and Austria.I didn't have any problem using my Visa. Of course, I just paid cash in restaurants. The rather small hotel in Innsbruck took my Visa.
ETM123 wrote:>I used Visa/MC to pay for such things as train tickets and hotels or hostels. I was in Italy over New Year's as well, and second this approach. The big stuff--hotels, train tix, nice ceramics--went on the cards and we used cash for most everything else. Another note: I found it easier most times to pull cash out of an ATM than to cash my AMEX traveler's checks. The ATMs were everywhere in the big cities . . . I'm sure the case is different in smaller towns, however, so I'd be prepared.> . . . so don't be surprised when a charge finally appears on your statement a month after you >return to the States.Yup--our last charge (made in early January) didn't show up until April!On a completely different note--I've been lurking on this board for about a month, and just wanted to say how much I appreciate the kindness, patience, and supportiveness I see here every day. Thank you, all!Rebecca
Having Lived in Europe for the last two years I must agree with John. Credit cards are readily accepted here including for items such as tolls on roads. The one place were it is sometimes difficult are grocery stores, but even they are credit card freindly in some countries. As for cash it is my experiance that 1. you are better off bringing dollars and exchanging them AFTER you get to europe. (This is expecialy true as the Euro is falling almost daily now.)2. Do NOT exchange them at an airport. Try to do it at a Bank they generaly have the best rates and the lowest commisions.Where in Italy are you going? If you are in Venice or Rome be aware that you pay extra if you sit down at a table for a snack or drink. This is why you will often see the locals leaning against a wall eating.Ed
small print on AAdvantage Citibank Visa says3% will be added to the convert rate for any foreign currency transaction originated from outside US. Somebody mentioned early that MC does not apply this surcharge, but how they calculate the convert rate anyway?Enjoy your trip
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