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I'm planning a 14-day trip to Italy (Rome, Florence and Venice). I already bought flight tickets, hotel reservations and trains on-line using my credit card. When I'm there I'll probably spend on restaurants, public transport and attractions. Can I safely carry my Mastercard credit card only to cover for all other expenses or should I have Euro with me?

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    One should always have some Euro around, if only to buy an ice cream...
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 25, 2022 at 19:17
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    Relying on just one card sounds like a bad idea to me. How would you cope if your card was lost or stolen, or if for any reason a transaction was rejected?
    – Traveller
    Oct 25, 2022 at 22:40
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    Do you not plan to ever buy something small? You expect the ice cream stand on the corner to take your card for a scoop or ice cream? What if the network or your bank go down? Yes, been there, seen that. In Oslo some years ago where my polish issued cards suddenly stopped working for some days.
    – TomTom
    Oct 26, 2022 at 10:38
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    Just answering the title: You can even visit without one! ;-) Oct 26, 2022 at 11:43
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    You do not need to have euros when traveling (but better have some cash of your home country if you do not) as you can always either get money out of a machine or exchange money for euros after arriving.
    – Willeke
    Oct 26, 2022 at 12:11

2 Answers 2

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As others pointed out, card acceptance is high but not universal. A recent law (2022) made it compulsory for businesses to accept payments by card, but exceptions happen, and not all of them are attempts to circumvent the law:

  • Payment with card may legally be refused for tobacco products and stamps.
  • Tickets for public transportation can be paid by card if you buy them at official ticket sellers or automatic machines, but you might have problems in some small kiosks (eg newspapers')
  • In some remote places (mountain huts, small villages) the lack of internet connection (even mobile) is a real issue.
  • If you take a taxi, ask first.

On the other hand, generally you'll have no problem in restaurants, bars, supermarkets, shops.

So, no, it's not a good idea to travel on credit/debit card only, better to have some cash for small expenses.

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  • If you take a taxi, ask first POLITELY. (notizie.virgilio.it/…)
    – Matte.Car
    Oct 26, 2022 at 8:05
  • The problem is also that a lot of small shops and stands may just not accept card due to cost. Buying an ice cream and paying by credit card? Nope.
    – TomTom
    Oct 26, 2022 at 10:36
  • A couple of notes: acceptance was already compulsory before 2022, but it was without sanction, so it was not really worth anything. They introduced sanctions in 2022. I would recommend asking politely on most small shops, not only taxi.
    – bracco23
    Oct 26, 2022 at 10:41
  • @TomTom I have paid by card for things smaller than ice cream. It really should not be a customer's problem, and the order of magnitude of the transaction fees are so small that it is a non-issue.
    – bracco23
    Oct 26, 2022 at 10:45
  • @bracco23 Taxi is worse than small shop because in a shop, if you can't pay you simply walk away without paying anything, but in a taxi you tend to pay when the service was already provided.
    – gerrit
    Oct 26, 2022 at 14:23
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I have not been in Italy recently but in other parts of Europe and while most of the time you can pay by card but at times the systems are having problems or the vendor has a problem with his phone connection.

I would not travel completely without cash but €20 may last you your whole stay. But being money you can use it on your last day if you did not need it earlier.

In most of Europe (and I believe also Italy) card acceptance has risen a lot over the covid years but it is still not universal.

When I was in Italy last card acceptance was already high, if not universal.

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    Italian here, as @Willeke says card acceptance has risen but it's not universal. Also depends if you are going to stay in the main cityes mentioned (no problem with only card) or you plan some countryside visits (could be more problematic). My suggestion is to have always 20/30 euros cash in case of "emergency", and before big expenses ask if card is accepted. It should be illegal not accept credit card in regular business, but we are good in finding excuses. At worst you can change back the 30 euros in airport before leaving, even with a bad exchange you'll not lose much.
    – EttoreP
    Oct 25, 2022 at 19:38
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    "It should be illegal not accept credit card in regular business" - That's a bit extreme. Credit cards cost money (percentage of total and/or per-transaction fee) to process, so a business, particularly if they mostly handle small transactions, can easily make a business decision that they don't want to have to cover those costs. Oct 26, 2022 at 1:29
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact, that is not an opinion of the person who wrote it here but the law in Italy, as far as I remember that law makes it compulsory for businesses to accept card and/or electronic payments.
    – Willeke
    Oct 26, 2022 at 6:19
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact And using physical money has no cost? You have to pay for small coin delivery for change. You have to take notes to the bank. You often have increased insurance costs because of larger amounts of cash on site. It slows down checkout times. etc
    – Sam Dean
    Oct 26, 2022 at 9:33
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    @SamDean Of course there are costs. But they are hidden costs, rather than a strict "2% + $0.50 per transaction" or whatever. Businesses (as do governments and individuals) do not always consider everything logically... Oct 26, 2022 at 12:04

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