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ATM Cards in Italy - Getting Euros on your Italian Vacation

Tips for using an ATM in Italy

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Bancomat
46277195@N00/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 bancomat.jpg

Bancomat

Look for an Italian Bancomat with the affiliations you need (cirrus, plus, etc.) In Italy, Bancomats are clearly marked (see the picture with the blue Bancomat sign) and are found outside banks, or in behind a door that opens when you swipe your card. You can also find Bancomats in airports and at train stations.

Using the ATM or Bancomat in Italy

Once you insert your card, you will be prompted to choose your language. English will be one of the choices. Then you'll enter your 4 digit pin number (make sure yours is four digits before you go). After grinding away, you'll be presented with a number of choices for withdrawal. Choose the one that suits you. If you get money out, you're all set. If not, read on.

Italian ATM Regulations

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 Dollars. At the time of writing, this 250 Euro cost around 345 USD. Remember, larger withdrawals are cheaper in the long run, especially if your bank imposes a per transaction charge.

Visiting the Bank if You Have ATM Problems

If you have trouble with your card, you will have to visit the bank during banking hours. These are quite inconvenient, usually 8:30am to 1:30pm and 3:30pm to 4:30pm. Yes, you read that right, afternoon opening time is a scant hour--go in the morning.

ATM Messages in Italy are Terse and Explain Absolutely Nothing

If you exceed the amount your card allows you to withdraw on a daily basis, or your card has been somehow declared invalid in Italy, you are not likely to get an ATM message that explains anything to you. Your card will be rejected, perhaps with a terse statement urging you to contact your bank (but it will never explain the reason). Reinsert your card and try to withdraw fewer Euro. It's possible that the day's exchange rate made the dollar even weaker than it is and you've exceeded your bank's dollar maximum withdrawal.

Make sure you bring at least two working ATM cards to Italy, both with 4 digit pin numbers. In an emergency, you can get a cash advance from your credit card. Make sure you have contacted the banks involved and notified them that you're going to be getting money while in Italy. Ask them for a number to contact if you have a problem; toll-free 800 numbers are not free in Italy. Then, sit back and have an incredible vacation.

Note: This article was written in summer 2007 based on personal experience over the past five years using Bancomats throughout Italy, in both touristed and non-touristed areas.

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