- 1). Go to your bank before you leave for Italy, and withdraw enough Euros to last you through your first day, in case you can't immediately find an exchange bureau or ATM. You can also get small amounts of Euros at any AAA branch. But don't take out too much money here: It's more expensive to buy foreign currency in the U.S. than to withdraw or exchange Euros in Italy. About 100 Euros should be enough for any surprises early in your trip.
- 2). Find an ATM. There should be one at the airport, or on a nearby corner in any major city. If your debit card has a Visa or MasterCard logo, you should have no trouble withdrawing money from Italian ATMs. Here you should take out as much cash as you could reasonably need: You'll likely be charged a transaction fee both by your home bank and by the ATM operator, so the idea is to make as few transactions as possible while in Italy.
- 3). Use your credit card when you can. A Capital One card does not charge transaction fees for international purchases; other banks charge relatively low fees --- between 1 and 3 percent, typically. Check with your credit card company about rates before you leave. In general, credit cards offer comparably good exchange rates.
- 4). Pick up travelers checks before you leave, and exchange them at a bank or exchange bureau in Italy. Travelers checks are safer to carry than cash, but the exchange rates will make this a more expensive option than using your ATM or credit card. Exchange counters will take anywhere from 3 to 10 percent of whatever you're converting to Euros. Banks charge slightly less, but usually add an additional 1 percent fee for changing travelers checks, as opposed to cash.
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