Money in Rome - how much you need to budget per day, and how to pay for things

There is a lot I want to tell you about using money in Rome, and it's not about how to spend it (that part is easy! Food! Wine! Gelato! Shoes!)

euro coins and billsEuro bills and coins - money used in Rome Italy.

When we ran our Rome B&B, we got a lot of questions about money matters by people trying to plan their trip to Rome.

This page is to help you prepare the money part of your trip by answering:

These money issues have their own dedicated pages:

How much will money will you spend per day in Rome?

This is obviously pretty subjective.

For the purposes of budgeting, here is what you might spend minimally per day (per person) in Rome:

BOTTOM LINE - How much money should you budget for your trip to Rome?

Accommodation aside, for meals, sight-seeing (the main sights), and transportation, you could spend as little as about 50 Euros per day (rounding again.)

Plan to spend more if you want to hire any tour guides, get laundry done, take taxis, shop, and/or splurge a bit on meals.

Don't forget keeping around 50-60€ spending money on hand.

What is the exchange rate into Euros?

Use the currency converter below to see the current exchange rate for your currency to Euros.

Currency Converter by OANDA

Some things to note:

  • The above defaults to interbank exchange rates. This is the exchange rate that banks get when they move money between them. You cannot ever get this exchange rate. There will always be a surcharge over the basic exchange rate when you change money. Usually, with credit cards and ATM cards, there is a 2-3% surcharge. An average money exchange bureau can charge from 5-12%. If you want to see real exchange rates with these possible surcharges, go to the Oanda full currency converter.
  • If you want to know how much something in Euros will cost you in your own currency, go to the online converter. Make sure that "currency I have" is selected on the left side, and "currency I want" (Euros) is selected on the right. Then enter the Euro amount on the right side (selecting any surcharges you think apply to you) and you will see, on the left side, what you need to spend in your own currency to get that many Euros.

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How can you get the best exchange rates when you change money to Euros (and back)?

There are usually two factors at play when you change currency: the exchange rate and related fee over that rate; and the transaction fee.

The exchange rate starts with the interbank rate on a given day. Then there may be a surcharge such as for using an ATM card or credit card.

But there may ALSO be a transaction fee. This could be imposed by the ATM, YOUR home bank, and if you are using a credit to withdraw cash, the credit card company might also take a fee.

Here's what to look out for:

Changing money

If you exchange money at a currency exchange, you will often see them advertise "no fees!"

But they have to make money so instead, they just charge more than a typical ATM or bank or credit card. So they don't charge a fee, per se, but really they do. It's just the markup on the exchange rate.

So if you go to a currency exchange bureau, you might want to check the FINAL amount against what you could get by going to an ATM.

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Using the ATM to get cash

I used to say that using the ATM was the best way to get a good exchange rate but now I've noticed that the banks can use varying exchange rates, or they charge high fees for the service, on TOP of what your bank at home charges.

So unless you want to go testing out a bunch of ATMs, you just have to accept that this is the cost of travel.

It may be convenient to take out more money at once, to avoid per-use ATM charges.

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Paying with credit card

Credit card companies typically charge 2-3% over the interbank rates.

I frequently come across POS systems that recognize that my card is American and ask if I want to pay in Euros or in US Dollars. The POS (which is a tool of the bank that the merchant is using) is offering to handle the exchange before it hits my credit card.

I always choose to pay in Euros as I'd rather my credit card company do the exchange than the POS bank here.

It may not be a huge difference but in my experience, you get a better exchange rate this way.

How much cash should you bring to Rome?

Regardless of your budget, you should plan to arrive in Rome with at least a little cash, especially if you are flying here

You will need some cash to get into Rome, whether by car service, train or bus.

And even if you have prepaid a car service, you should always have some Euros on hand.

For example, tipping is only acceptable by cash. You cannot put a tip on a credit card bill.

There are ATMs in both Rome airports, but they are not bank ATMs, and you will probably get a hefty surcharge for using them.

Of course you can use these ATMs if you didn't bring money with you, but to avoid heavy fees or sub-optimal exchange rates, I recommend you get at least 100€ at your bank at home before you travel.

atm at fiumicino romeThe ATMs at Fiumicino airport in Rome are handy but you might find unfavorable exchange rates.

Are travelers checks even a thing any more?

I remember when it was a must to get travelers checks before any trip.

But now, it seems a bit outdated.

You won't be able to spend them anywhere. You will only be able to exchange them at currency exchange offices or banks.

You would do better simply using your ATM card to get cash as you need it.

If you don't have an ATM card or debit card, or prefer not to use one, then yes, travelers checks are safer to carry than cash.

But if you have a debit card, skip the travelers checks.

Do most places in Italy accept credit cards?

The answer to this is . . . yes and no.

Italy has a large cash-based economy.

While the vast majority of businesses are required to accept credit cards and debit cards, some do so grudgingly. (FYI in Italy, a debit card is called bancomat.)

When they do accept card payments, they often don't take American Express. (They think Amex charges higher fees, but we know from having run a business here that it's not that complicated to get a lower fee as a merchant. But this prejudice remains and you will very often find that businesses in Italy don't take Amex.)

Post-Covid lockdowns, many businesses embraced the contact-less payment system that now comes standard with many credit cards and debit cards.

So you will likely find that available.

On the other hand, and even despite a more positive attitude towards contactless payments, a merchant may encourage you to pay cash (by offering a cash discount), and in some cases, will say their POS is out of order, or their lines are down, or today their credit card system is not working, etc.

Believe me this is very common, so make sure to go around with about 50-60 Euros spending money at any given time, just in case.

no pos sign
no bancomat sign
pos out of order

Look how easy it was for me to find these signs in Rome. And I only posted these 3.

This is especially true of small businesses, little boutiques, mom-and-pop trattorias, and small-priced service items like tours, laundry, audio guides etc.

Taxis in Italy are required to have POS system in their cabs. And so they do. However, sometimes if you just walk up to a driver and ask if you can pay with credit card, they will say no.

This is one reason I use an app to book my taxi! I can pay with credit card right in the app.

You may rest assured that large hotels, brand name shops, and most restaurants will accept credit cards and debit cards.

The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome

Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.

In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Castel Sant'Angelo, and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.

Where to exchange your currency to Euros? 

As I've said above, you should actually avoid bringing your own currency to Rome and other Italian cities.

Plan to use credit cards when possible, and take cash out of ATMs as needed.

But, if you do have non-Euro currency, and want to change it to Euros, there are plenty of currency exchange offices in Rome.

Avoid the ones at the airports, where you are held hostage to higher fees or lower exchange rates.

The American Express office at the Spanish Steps is gone.

currency exchange on via venetoYou can change money at exchange offices like this one, but expect to get a worse exchange rate than if you use an ATM.

The biggest concentration of currency exchange bureaus is inside or near Termini Train station.

There are usually exchange offices/booths near all the major site in Rome including but not limited to the Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori, and Vatican City.

The easiest way to find a currency exchange bureau near you is to use an app map such as Google maps. Just type in "currency exchange" and you'll see them on the map.

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Places you cannot change currency

Here are some places you cannot change money in Rome:

  • Banks - You cannot go to a bank in Rome and exchange currency unless you have an account in that bank.
  • Your non-Italian bank - There are not branches of many foreign banks in Rome (with a few exceptions like Barclays, but even then, they are not set up for currency exchange.) So as I mentioned above, unless you have an account with an Italian bank, you cannot exchange money in any of the banks in Rome.
  • American Express - The American Express office that used to be at the bottom of the Spanish Steps is gone, never to return. The Valentino flagship store is there now.
new valentino shop where american express in rome once wasThe new Valentino store in Rome, going into the space once occupied by the long-gone American Express office

Using ATMs in Rome

You can find ATMs pretty much everywhere in Rome, and you should be able to use your debit card or credit card at most of them to withdraw cash.

unicredit atm in romeThe best ATMs are attached to banks. Often you can go inside the vestibule for more privacy and safety.

I get asked this a lot so I will answer here: There is not a Citibank ATM in Rome, but you can still use your Citibank card at ATMs on the same network to withdraw money.

Many ATMs have a 250€/day limit.

Your bank at home may also have a daily limit.

But some banks, such as Banca di Roma, BNL, and Credem, will let you take out more.

Just try a higher amount and see if the machine will let you. 

Alert your bank and credit card companies before you leave home that you will be traveling to Rome.

This will help you avoid stress and hassle if your charges are denied by over-protective banks that see a foreign charge as a reason for alarm.

Money in Rome - The best tip I can give you: Get travel insurance!

This is possibly the best money-tip I can give you.

It amazes me that more people don't think about getting travel or trip insurance.

I know many people think their credit card covers them for some trip insurance but I urge you to read the fine print.

Your credit card does not cover you for as much as you think!

I think it may be because a lot of people don't know it exists.

Travel insurance will protect you for a variety of travel-related problems and subsequent money losses/charges.

Plans range the gamut for flight cancellation/delay-compensation, to medical evacuation.

You can get a plan that covers you on a yearly basis or on a per-trip basis.

Travel Insurance Quote - Sign up today!

pin money in rome
pin money in rome

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