In our Italy Money and Banks section, you will find answer to questions such as - what kind of money do they use in Italy, how to exchange money into euros, how to avoid a popular money scam and much more...
The official currency in Italy is the Euro (€). The Euro paper money and coins come in different denominations with 100 cents or centesimi making up one euro. The Euro paper money come in bills of different face value - 500 , 200 , 100 , 50 , 20 , 10 and 5 . As you would expect the different denomination bills have different colour and size.
The Euro coins have their value displayed big on one side of the coin and they come in 2 and 1 Euro (the two bigger coins and are made with two different metals - golden and silver), 50, 20, 10 cents (golden material) and 5, 2 and 1 cents (bronze material).
Rates of exchange between currencies fluctuate constantly, so check carefully the rate between Euro and your local currency before changing your money on www.oanda.com or www.xe.com .
In Italy, the decimal separator is a comma so you will see that a price of 2 euros and 15 cents is displayed as €2,15 in shops.
Speaking of 2 Euro coins, there is a popular money scam that involves the 2 euro coin. The old 500 lira coin (which is now worthless since the introduction of the Euro) has a very similar size and design as the new €2 coin (worth roughly $3). So whenever you receive a change that has a coin the size of €2 ALWAYS verify that it is actually €2 before taking it. Make sure that you can see €2 value displayed on one side of the coin ! Look at the two pictures below carefully:
€2 Euro Coin
500 Lira Coin
You can change other currency into Euros almost anywhere in Italy. Perhaps the safest place, however is in a bank where you will most likely pay a flat rate as a commission independent of the amount of Euros you are changing. The working hours for the banks in Italy are from 8:30am to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Banks in Italy are closed over the weekend as well as on National Holidays.
The Italian Post Offices also provide a currency exchange service and their commission rates are quite competitive sometimes even lower than the ones charged at banks.
In bigger towns and tourist locations, you will also find private exchange bureaus which will often offer to exchange currency without commission; however the exchange rate will very likely not be the most favourable.
If you are carrying with you travellers’ checks, your best bet to cash them will be to do so at a bank or an exchange bureau as it is rather impossible to do so in a hotel or a shop.
Eventhough, Debit and Credit cards are accepted in most places in Italy, cash is still king in Italy and is the preferred method of payment ! If you are ever in doubt whether a place accepts plastic, look whether the credit card logos are displayed in the front window of the establishment. Beware that taxis will generally accept cash only. There are some taxis that are setup to accept credit cards but they still prefer cash payments as they pay high bank charges for the transactions. If in doubt, ask whether you can pay by card before you start your journey.
It is always advisable to check with your card provider in advance of the exact fees they will charge you for any foreign transactions you make as these may stack up.
ATMs in Italy are known as Bancomat and you can use them to withdraw cash in euros from your account just as you would do at home. Just make sure that the ATM is marked with the affiliations you need (cirrus, plus, etc.)
The withdrawing process is pretty straight forward - at the beginning of your transaction you will be prompted to select your preferred language. Then you will be prompted to enter your pin which is limited to 4 digits (make sure yours is four digits before you go to Italy). Once your pin is verified, you will be presented with a number of choices for withdrawal. Choose the one that suits you and you get your money out.
Note that the maximum withdrawal limit at most Italian Bancomats is set to 250 Euros per day.
At the time of writing, a maximum withdrawal limit of 250 Euro is imposed at most Italian Bancomats. Make sure your card can handle at least this amount in your local currency. Remember that generally larger withdrawals are cheaper in the long run, especially if your bank imposes a per transaction fee.
If you have problems with your card during the withdrawal process, you would need to visit the bank. The working hours for the banks in Italy are from 8:30am to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
If you are looking for your nearest ATM machine, try the handy ATM locator provided on the Italian Banking Association website at http://faro.pattichiari.it/index1.phtml
Although it is in Italian only, it is very easy to use:
1) Under "Localita" enter the name of the town
2) Under "Banca" enter the name of the bank which issued your card (even if it's a non-Italian bank)
3) Click on "Cerca sportelli" to display your nearest ATMs
The result with display a map with the location of ATMs in the desired town along with names of banks, addresses, etc. :
There are ATMs at all Italian airports and main train stations as well. However, it is wise to have a little cash in Euro on hand when you arrive in Italy in case they are out of order.
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