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06/04/2009 - 05:08

I'd welcome advice on changing Sterling. Will I be better off by changing the majority of my Sterling locally? If so where would be the best places to look for the best exchange rate in the Venice/Mogliano areas?Thanks,Phil



Hi Phil We get the majority of our Euros from a local Bancomat.  Some debit cards do not charge a foreign exchange fee, and the exchange rate is usually better than you get at a cambio.  As was mentioned in another post, not all bancomat machines will take foreign cards - it depends on the local branch, I gather. Normally in a large or touristy town, we can find at least one machine that will cooperate. It's usually a good idea to let your bank know that you will be using the card outside of the country, too. L

Make a note of their international contact number   -   it should be on the back of the card [not the '08....' number which your mobile usually can't ring from abroad].  Programme it into your mobile If it gets 'frozen - give them a ring straight away, and they should release it almost immediately.  Don't wait for them to ring you - often they call your UK number, rather than the mobile, and leave you a message to call them [no use if you're abroad!]  .

My understanding is that if you use a Lloyds TSB debit card at most and I stress most and not  all the time in Italian bancomats the very worst is that your card  will not be lost but merely returned to you ad infinitum with a message saying it's not valid for international transactions and refers you back to your bank.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

My daughter had her account stopped and when she phoned up (when back in the UK) was actually told this is what the computer would do and they could do nothing about it.I was in my local branch one day complaining that my official complaint about my account being stopped (another issue, not abroad) had not been addressed - two people in the queue behind me heard me and said their accounts had  been stopped while abroad and they were left without funds - a good natured discussion ensued - as we all appreciated that it was not the fault of the cashiers.  It does appear that it is quite a common problem.We never go abroad without a selection of cards/methods of access to cash - and we are going back to carrying a lot more actgual cash with us than we want to.  Is this progress?  Do you remember the days when we could use a eurocheque card and actually cash a cheque abroad?

I've just got a Post Office travel money card -it's a Visa Electron- you activate your own pin mumber over the phone. You can pre load it with either Euros,Sterling or Dollars (you can have 3 cards one for each currency it cost me £3.00 and I  loaded it with £200.00 and paid for my Ryanair Flights without card fees. Not sure I'd use the Post Office to exchange my euros - but if you can get  Euros at a good can then load them onto this card. Haven't tried to use in Italy yet and probably won't as I have a Bancomat card from my Italian Bank.You fill in the form and give them your passport/identification and 24 hours later you phone up to activate it -so best to organise it a few days before you go away and if you lose it they refund the money left on it. 

Have you Jinty or anyone tried that card to pay an Enel bill online rather than Postepay which is the Italian equivalent which you can use???  regards, sempre_italia

  Had my Lloyds bank card declined at Ciampino a few weeks ago, At the Hertz desk. Although i had pre-booked my hire car a week or so earlier it declined when hertz tried to take a deposit with the same card, you would think that Lloyds would be able to work out that if i booked a hire car with hertz a week before, that their anti-fraud programme could recognise that car hire companys also take a deposit,( with the same card),on the day of rental.   Anyway phoned the number on the back of card, spoke to the anti-fraud dept, Explained the situation, that i was actually the person trying to use the card in Ciampino, card re-activated in seconds to my great relief.   

We rang Lloyds TSB before we set off to let them know we would be in Italy for three weeks and they refused our payment for our Rome hotel bill, OH got on the phone to them and read them the riot act and the payment was approved and we did use it for other things including a huge hotel bill in Positano, but it took twenty minutes to sort out on two phones and was a real hassle after we had rung them from UK before we set out.We use Nationwide card if we can for cash as there are no charges.  we have never tried changing sterling cash as the rate seems so rubbish. Before we set out I researched taking euros and Thomas Cook came out slightly ahead with their cashback offer on amounts over £500, otherwise it was the Post Office.

Just a note - I've lived in Italy for nearly 4 years.  I have a Nationwide card and have not yet found an Italian bank that does not accept it (the same can't be said of the shops or Italian websites).  The problem is that when the cash machines run out of money (this happens here every weekend here so be careful if you need money on a Sunday!) the message on the screen can say something unhelpful like 'we have been instructed to return your card - please contact your bank' - which can be somewhat worrying.  This means nothing - if you go back to the same cash machine on a Monday morning it will give you money with no problems.I have found that the exchange rate that I get with the Nationwide card is very close to the bank exchange rate (i.e. much, much better than tourist rates) - so I would definitely recommend it as the best way to get money out abroad.