You will soon become an expert at international banking transactions…
We do not recommend trying to open a bank account in Italy. The following information will help you maintain quick access to your funds, and protect your money against loss
Before you leave the US contact your bank and/or credit card company to let them know that you will be studying abroad – where and for how long.
If your ATM card is linked to the Plus or Cirrus systems, your card will work in thousands of cash machines throughout the country. The advantage to using your American ATM card is that you will be assessed the wholesale exchange rate that applies to large foreign currency transactions. Be sure to check with your bank about using your ATM card in Italy and about any fees that might be assessed. That said, have other sources of money in case your ATM card does not work.
You can use most credit cards in Italy but they must be in your name, as it appears on your passport. You should know, however, that Italians tend to pay in cash and shop staff may try to convince you to pay in cash, especially for small/medium purchases, even if they do take cards. Shops and restaurants in smaller towns may not accept credit cards. Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express, but AmEx Offices can assist you with cashing US checks. Credit card cash advances are considered loans, so interest is charged from the day the advance is made. Before you depart, check with your card company for more information on what services you’ll have where, what fees are involved and what to do if you lose your card.
Travelers checks can be helpful in case your wallet is lost or stolen, but are not recommended for everyday use.
Banks open around 8:30 am and close around 1:30 pm, open again at 3:00 pm, or 3:30 pm for another hour. You should expect to take care care of banking needs Monday through Friday; a few banks may have Saturday morning hours.
When the program is in session, our offices in Italy can make emergency loans to students. Students must sign a promissory note and repay the loan as soon as they receive money from home. If you find yourself in dire financial straits while traveling, the State Department can help your family transfer money to you (provided you are a U.S. citizen).