Plan to visit Rome for your next holiday? Good choice! Filled with museums, galleries, churches and cathedrals, this historic destination is a must-see at least once in your lifetime. Now that you have made an excellent travel choice, you're probably thinking about practical aspects such as spending money in Rome. Is taking cash better than using credit cards? Should you take travelers checks instead? Will ATM cards be the best choice during your Roman holiday?
Credit Cards vs. Cash
When you travel to Rome, you need to think smart and use a combination of cash and credit card to meet the local expenses. There are times when cash will be more beneficial than credit, but credit cards can still be used at major retailers and other businesses.
Keep currency of different denominations. Euro notes come in seven denominations ranging from: €5 to €500. The coins come in €2 and €1 denominations and 1-cent to 50-cent coins. Have around €100 in cash with you when you arrive so that you can pay for local transport and meet other expenses until you reach your hotel.
Tip: if you don't bring euros with you to Rome, consider withdrawing funds from the airport ATM. Avoid currency exchange booths as they generally charge a high transaction fee.
Credit cards are good option as well. Be sure to check with the bank/issuing company to see what fees they charge. But typically the exchange rate on your credit card will be better than if you exchange money. And similar to the rates you'll get from an ATM.
Many merchants, especially small to medium businesses, do not accept credit cards, especially the American Express because it comes with higher fees. So, don’t be surprised if you find local vendors encouraging you to pay cash. But large hotels and restaurants will almost certainly accept credit cards. The takeaway here is this: it pays, literally, to have some cash on hand at all times.
In fact, some vendors also offer discounts if you pay them in cash. So, does this mean that you need to walk around the city with cash on you? Well, not necessarily, as long as you have an ATM.
In Rome, ATMs are called bancomat. They are available abundantly in the city and most of them accept all international cards including Visa, Maestro, MasterCard and Cirrus. The daily cash withdrawal limit in the city is €250.
Do keep in mind that every time you use the ATM, you need to pay a transaction surcharge. This charge might vary from bank to bank. Important: make sure to notify your bank if your traveling abroad. Some banks, don't require it, but be sure to double check first to avoid fraud alerts.
If you don’t want to use an ATM or credit card, travelers checks are the next best option. However, you’ll face several limitations in using them. For instance, you can’t pay your shopping bill with traveler’s checks. All you can do with them is exchange them for cash in banks or money exchange centers.
But there are some advantages. Here are a few reasons why travelers checks have value:
- They can be refunded if they are lost of stolen
- There's no fees for cashing them (generally)
- Easier to budget your money
- Lock in exchange rates at time of purchase
Considering all this, you might want to use cash and ATM cards in Rome. Check out City Wonders for more details about traveling abroad and our Rome Tours for more specific info.