The Catholic University of America

Money in Rome

Money advice

Students should plan ahead to manage their money well during their time in Rome. What follows is advice based on the experience of previous students. Catholic University takes no responsibility for errors, outdated information, or missing advice. It is the student's responsibility for informing themselves and taking their own steps for best managing their money.

  • Monitor finances

    • Set up finances in a way that they can be continually monitored.

    • Students should make sure to have online access to their bank account and their credit cards so that they can (1) check their balances, (2) see how much they are spending in dollars, (3) keep a close eye on additional fees, (4) stop fraud.

    • It is a good idea to have parents or another trusted person in the US as a signatory on the student's bank account and credit card accounts. That way, should there be any issues, they can take care of things in the US for the student. Otherwise, students will have to handle all issues that come up through long-distance calls from Italy.

  • Getting Euro

    • The cheapest way to have dollars changed into euro is to get cash with an ATM card and purchase things via credit card (but see below).

    • ATMs will give the best exchange rate.

    • It is not a good idea to try to open a bank account in Italy. It is very difficult for foreigners to open bank accounts in Italy and very high fees are involved in their use.

    • A possible option is to come to Italy with pre-paid ATM and credit cards. Euro-denominated cash cards can be purchased thorough companies like Travelex.

    • European ATMs do not add an additional fee to withdrawals. However, the US bank may have both foreign withdrawal fees and currency conversion fees. Students should check with their bank to see if there is a way to lower these fees, either through a special plan or by using partner banks in Italy and the rest of Europe. For example, some students have found that Bank of America is partnered with the Banco Nazionale di Lavoro in Italy and that withdrawals from the BNL ATMs are much cheaper for Bank of America customers.

  • Spending Euro

    • Italy is still very much a cash-based economy. Credit cards may be used in many sit-down restaurants, some supermarkets, clothing stores, hotels, and transportation companies. All small purchases—such as coffee, sandwiches—require cash.

    • Students should keep track of the euro/dollar exchange rate and monitor their withdrawals and purchases online so that they have an idea of just how much they are spending.

  • Protecting Oneself

    • Students should make copies of their ATM cards, credit cards, ID cards, and passport and keep them, along with the numbers needed to cancel these cards, in a safe place, separate from the cards themselves, in case of theft.

    • Students should give a copy of the card numbers and emergency numbers to their parents or some other trusted person so that they can cancel the cards for them should they be stolen.

    • Some ATMs are rigged by thieves to steal information. The best way to avoid this is to always use ATMs inside banks rather than on the street. If one must use an ATM on the street, they should use one on a side street, not in a popular square.

Last Updated 2 February 2017