UW Rome Center

Travel Money, Debit & Credit Cards

Travel Money

The amount of spending money you’ll need during study abroad in Rome will be depending on your travel plans, eating preferences and other personal expenses. You should expect to spend extra on meals and basic expenses during your first couple of weeks in-country as you settle in and purchase necessities like toiletries and household supplies. Since all student apartments have full kitchens, it’s easy to save money by shopping at the local markets and supermarkets and cooking on your own. A budget of about $10 a day if cooking all of your meals should keep you well-nourished. If you plan to eat out every meal, you might plan to spend between $25 to $30 dollars a day on food. Rome is easily navigated by foot, and local transportation in Rome is relatively inexpensive. Depending on how long you’ll be studying here, you may choose to buy a monthly Metro passes (called a “tessera” or “abbonamento”) for 35, or individual tickets can be purchased for 1.50. Weekly costs for postage, laundry, local phone calls and other miscellaneous expenses can run $30-40 a week. Entertainment (e.g., movies, museums, live music) can add another $30-40 a week. Weekend excursions are likely to be your most expensive cost, especially depending on how far you go and for how many days your travel. If you plan to travel, be sure to budget for accommodations, meals and transportation and other personal expenses while you’re on the road.

Debit & Credit Cards

In Italy, cash is still preferred in most restaurants, cafes and other establishments, although credit and debit cards are becoming more widely used throughout Italy and are an increasingly convenient way to pay for things. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, although American Express is not. Be sure to report your travel plans to your bank and credit card companies in advance of your travels, as cards are often blocked for security reasons following unusual account activity (e.g., purchases and cash withdrawals made outside the US). Also be sure you understand the fees and daily withdrawal limits of your cards, and make sure that your cards are on the Visa/MasterCard circuit and NOT the Cirrus/Maestro circuit as some ATMs do not accept the latter.

Either exchange some euros prior to your arrival in Rome or use an ATM at the airport in order to have some cash on you when you arrive. Drawing money directly from ATMs associated with an official bank is normally the best way to ensure a good exchange rate. You will find plenty of banks around the city center with ATMs. If you plan to exchange US dollars upon arrive, note that Currency Exchanges are often not open late or on holidays, and that their exchange rates will likely not be as good. Also, if you exchange dollars for euros, do not accept bills larger than €50 as larger bills as it may be difficult to find a vendor willing to accept them.

Write your credit card numbers and credit card company contact information in a safe place so that you have them in the event your card(s) are stolen. In the event that you need emergency cash, we recommend using Western Union. A Western Union location is a short 5 minute walk from the UWRC.