Travelers checks are out and ATMs are in. That is because many European retailers and service providers no longer accept travelers checks. But getting money in Europe is easy using ATMs, just pay attention to the following:
Your bank will charge an exchange fee for drawing money from your bank account and exchanging it for Euros. Some banks also charge a percentage of the amount withdrawn. But the favorable exchange rate you get will make up for those charges. If you go to a Foreign Exchange Broker, the rate of the exchange is not in your favor.
When you arrive in Europe, the airport where you arrive will have ATMs so you can get some cash right away. You will need it for taxis, tips, and incidentals. If it is just too nerve-wracking to wait until you get to Europe, you can get some euros or pounds at the main branch of your bank before you travel (Call in advance; not all banks have foreign currency on hand.) A few hundred euros will do it; you don’t want to carry a lot of cash. And, keep your cash and other valuables in a money belt worn under your clothes. You can purchase one at any travel store.
When there, be sure not to take out too much cash or you will need to change it back and that costs additional money. Also, some European ATMs will only accept cards that have a pin with fewer than 6 numbers. If your card has more than that, it may not work. So when traveling to Europe (Italy especially), bring a card with a pin that is shorter than 6 digits.
Use your credit card when purchasing just about everything while in Europe. With most credit cards, you will be paying a percentage of the amount purchased, but once again you get a pretty good rate of exchange. Check with your credit card company before you go to see what they charge. There are some credit card companies and some credit unions that do not charge exchange fees. Capital One is one such company.
It is also a important to let your credit card company know in advance where you will be in your travels, so they don’t put a hold on your card while you are in Europe. In an effort to prevent fraud, credit card companies “red flag” accounts that have an unusual amount of activity or are being used in an unusual location.
That’s all there is to it! It is easy to get the cash you need for small purchases when in Europe, and just charge the rest.