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!)
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:
This is obviously pretty subjective. For the purposes of budgeting, here is what you might spend minimally per day (per person) in Rome:
If you use the tool below, you'll have a good idea of the exchange rate. Some things to note:
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.
There are ATMs in both Rome airports, but they are not bank ATM's (i.e. they are usually part of the currency-exchange service), 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 the heavy fees, I recommend you get at least 100€ at your bank at home before you travel.
I remember when it was a must to get traveller's 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 But now, it seems a bit outdated.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 to get cash as you need it.
If you don't have an ATM card, or prefer not to use one, then yes, traveller's checks are safer to carry than cash. But if you have an ATM card, skip the traveller's checks.
The answer to this is . . . yes and no.
Italy has a large cash-based economy. While more and more businesses are required to accept credit cards, some do so grudgingly. If they do, 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.)
Often, a merchant may encourage you to pay with 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 be prepared to pay cash.
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.
As I've said above, you should actually avoid bringing your own currency to Rome. Plan to use credit cards when possible, and take cash out of ATMs as needed.
But, if you do have your own 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 a much higher fee or lower exchange rate. Sadly, the American Express office at the Spanish Steps is gone.
The biggest concentration of currency exchange offices is at or near Termini Train station. There is an office at the bottom of via Veneto, and one each at Piazza Mignanelli and Piazza di Spagna, the two plazas at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. There are two by the Trevi Fountain and about 3 by the Vatican. For a complete list, and to see them on a map, look in the Italian Yellow Pages. Expand the map and then zoom in on Rome.
I've seen these questions asked over and over, by our hotel guests, and on several Italy expat online forums I follow, so here goes:
ATMs are everywhere, and you should be able to use your ATM card or credit card at most of them to get cash out. 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 card at ATMs on the same network to withdraw money.
Most ATMs have a 250€/day limit. Your bank at home may also have a daily limit. But some banks, such as Banca di Roma and Credem, will let you take out more. Just try a higher amount and see if the machine will let you. Keep in mind it may be convenient to take out more money at once, to avoid per-use ATM charges.
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 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.