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I'm attending a summer school in Cortona for two weeks this summer. Major expenses are paid already.

My question is if it's possible to pay all the dinning and grocery with credit card or debit card issued by US banks (Mastercard or Visa) in Cortona? Or I still have to use cash?

In the latter situation, I've seen an article claiming that it's wiser to bring US dollars and then change them to euros when needed. But it's usually about traveling to big cities like Rome or Florence so I wonder if it's easy to do that in Cortona?

  • Are you okay with using ATMs? I've generally seen them recommended due to the fairly low fees (1% or lower depending on your bank), and I have been able to use my Visa and Mastercard debit cards in various EU countries (Czechia, Germany, and France), although I've never tried Italy. – Gyðja Björnsdóttir Jun 9 at 1:36
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I come from nearby (Grosseto). Cortona is a medium sized town, so there will be plenty of cash machines accepting either visa or mastercard (with credit your are safer than debit cards). In the last years many places have started accepting contactless for small transactions, but surely most bar won't accept chip and pin for drinks. Most restaurants will likely accept chip and pin, likewise the supermarket. That said, in small centres like this, what most people still do is to take money (50 or 100 euros each time) from the cash machine and use that for everyday purchases. Also if you are from abroad, you will likely pay charges every time you pay or withdrawal, so using the card as little as possible is going to be cheaper.

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    Often cards have a percentage rather than a flat fee, so it does not matter how often you use it, only the total amount. Check with your bank what your card does. – Willeke Jun 9 at 20:07
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In most places, you should be able to pay with your credit card and/or debit card.

Conventional wisdom says that you should also have some cash on yourself; mostly for small purchases (like taxis, coffee, gelato, ... ).

If possible get some euros before leaving to Italy, something like 200euros; after that, if needed use ATMs to get more cash.

Also, don't forget to notify your bank and credit card company that you will be traveling to Italy (with dates) so that your cards don't get blocked by mistake.

  • I would suggest a much smaller amount, if you do most things by card, €20 might be enough, €50 certainly will be enough till you find an ATM in Italy. – Willeke Jun 9 at 20:05
  • I put 200 for the whole 2 weeks the OP said he was there. – Max Jun 10 at 19:08

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