What's the best way for a traveler to spend money in Italy?

We are traveling to Rome, Tuscany and some northern villages called Cinque Terre. I’ve heard and read online that it’s easy to fall victim to fraud when using credit cards in Italy, especially in Rome. But like Karl Malden says, “Don’t carry cash!” Traveler’s checks? My understanding is a little murky and it seems somewhat inconvenient getting them accepted.

Does anyone have experience with this? Li’l help here?

Big thanks in advance. :slight_smile:

Never had problems with credits cards in Italy, cash is also fine. We haven’t used travelers checks in at least 10 years.

But the best answer to the question in the thread title is “on food.”. :cool:

Last time I was in Italy I took an initial amount of cash in Euros with me, and then just withdrew more as needed from ATMs. I used my credit card occasionally and had no problems.

On a Ferrari.

I use my debit card. Most shops accept debit cards. I had a bit of a problem at first though, as apparently the UK did not implement chip and pin like the rest of Europe, so only the newer Italian ATMs would let me take money out.

Also, pickpockets are only really active in Rome and Florence, etc. There’s really not much crime in smaller towns and cities.

Don’t bring travellers cheques unless you want people to look at you like you’re stuck in the 1970s. They’re completely outmoded and inconvenient.

I’ve never had any issue using my credit or debit cards in Italy. Pickpockets aren’t a problem if you’re sensible. I’ve not used a traveller’s cheque anywhere in over a decade.

I’d just take your card(s) along, and don’t worry about it.

This is more vague than I’d like it to be, but what the hell – When I’ve gone to Europe (incl. Italy) with my parents, my dad makes sure to use the credit card he gets through his credit union because (vague part) “they charge less” (in fees, I’m assuming). So if you have multiple credit cards, you may want to call their customer service lines and ask them if they charge a fee for using their credit cards overseas.

Re: pickpockets – take precautions and be aware of your surroundings, and you should be fine. (Although I once had a woman take my bottle of water out of my hand as I walked by her…I wasn’t expecting that!)

That’s what I did, too. I would mainly just take enough money out of an ATM to last me a day or two. Make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and you won’t really have to worry about fraud or pickpocketing.

And I know you didn’t ask, but I’ll recommend it anyway - I recommend you do the Colosseum Underground and Upper Level tour. It’s amazing and is only available as a guided, ticketed tour. It’s only been open to the public since last October.

Enjoy the Cinque Terre, in particular, that’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

Per this article, American-style magnetic stripe cards may not be accepted as many European merchants expect customers to use “chip and pin” type cards.

This is good advice- only one of our cards doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, so that’s the one we always use overseas.

Just use your cards in an ATM, and pay stuff with cash, except probably the hotels. You absolutely must remember to tell the card issuers that you will be using them in Italy though, otherwise they might deactivate them as a fraud protection.

As long as you call them first, it shouldn’t be a problem. Unless you have my bank, where you call and tell them you’ll be in Italy and they still call you the second you use an ATM in Rome. The phone call to tell them it was okay cost me $10.

Your ex-bank, I trust.

I actually took this advice from an earlier SDMB thread and notified my bank that I would be travelling in Europe. They acted like I was insane for even mentioning it. Of course the cards will work, why are you troubling us with this matter, was their attitude.

Yeah, I called my bank in advance of a trip to Turkey and they deactivated my card anyway the second time I tried to use it there. They may laugh, but pay them no mind. And get a toll-free number to call them from abroad (or a number where you can call them collect) if you have any problems.

Just be prepared. I hate my ATM card “copied” by a card reader at an ATM in Florence. I don’t really understand what happened, but something about thieves putting a device into the ATM slot and getting the card’s information. Certainly the card never left my possession (I wasn’t using it except for cash at ATMs) and equally certainly my bank account was drained.

In most cases, your bank will reimburse you. What I would do is just check balances and charges online daily while there (from a secure connection, obviously) and for a few weeks once you get back. Be ready to contact your bank immediately if there’s a problem, and make sure you have your cards’ information written down somewhere secure that you can access if the card itself vanishes.

Then, don’t worry too much about it. Enjoy your trip. My experience was an inconvenience, but the convenience of being able to use ATMs for necessary cash probably outweighed it.

Here in Australia we have something called a prepaid visa travel card - which can be loaded in cash in up to 10 currencies. Assume something like that’s not available over there?

If not, I’d take a couple of credit cards and use ATMs for cash. Bear in mind as others have said that Europe use chip and pin, and may refuse a sign only card.

My suggestion is to take a couple of cards and leave a spare in a suitcase. That way in the unlikely event you have your wallet stolen, you have access to a source of funds. I tend to scan my passport, cards and itinerary and email a copy to myself and my Dad - that way if things get lost I have a good record of what I need to call to cancel etc.

I’ve traveled a lot in Italy, and never had issues - keep aware and you should be fine. Pickpockets often work in pairs - one to distract and one to steal - so just be aware of who interacts with you and who else is around and you’ll be fine.

Nope, they were awesome a couple of years ago when I had my card duplicated and someone spent a couple thousand dollars. I’d rather they be over-cautious than under-cautious, I guess.

Whores, good food and wine.

Don’t know about Italy, but in Sweden card readers generally take both chips (if your card has one) and magnetic strips (if it doesn’t). There are also some that don’t even have a chip reader.