I have a Mastercard and I want to know if they work in Rome or not.

Mainly I want to buy food, pay for entrances, and transportation, and buy gifts and some stuff.


5 Answers 5


Yes MasterCard works in Italy.

The question really should be does your bank's credit card work in Italy.

Is it a chip & pin card or a chip & sign card (primarily US banks) or a swipe only card? Having a chip equipped card is essential in Europe as most POS (point of sale) terminals are set up for chip cards not swipe cards.

Does your bank impose any restrictions on overseas use, lower daily limits, etc? These are questions you need to ask your bank in advance and at the same time notify them where and when you will be traveling so they are aware of potential foreign transactions.

  • Are you sure "most" POS stations cannot handle swipe cards? I haven't had too much trouble using mine when necessary (Italy, Switzerland, UK, and Croatia most recently); most of the points of sale I've seen have been of the type with a "tap the chip and pin card" area on front and a swipe thing on the side.
    – Urbana
    Jan 28, 2016 at 11:32
  • 2
    The swipe machines go out of use more and more, and new terminals may not be set up to accept them anymore. Different countries have different rates of replacing termimals and different designs of terminals.
    – Willeke
    Jan 28, 2016 at 17:39
  • 1
    At least in the UK all the terminals i've seen used in a manned situation (not vending machines) still have a swipe slot on them somewhere but merchants are sometimes reluctant to use it because of the fraud risk. Jan 28, 2016 at 20:17

My recent experience as an American tourist in several European countries, including Italy (Rome and Trieste):

MasterCard is widely accepted. If your card is a "swipe" card (ie, it is neither chip-and-signature nor chip-and PIN), it will work in slightly fewer places, but will still be adequate for your trip.

If your card is a swipe card, read on for some advice and my experience using such a card in Europe:

Swipe cards usually work in places with humans running the point of sale, but NOT ticket or other machines, with the important exception of ATMs, where they almost always work. So, in the context of your question, you could likely make do with a swipe card in all situations except paying for transportation, when it would likely not work.

However, there's a small (maybe 5% in my experience) chance some impossible-to-diagnose error will happen when you try to pay with a swipe card, and you'll be stuck with cash as your only payment option; there's also a larger (10-20%) chance the cashier or salesperson handling your transaction will be unfamiliar with swipe cards, and you'll have to deal with the point of sale machine yourself, including swiping, possibly entering CVV number, following prompts in a foreign language, etc. It's a hassle, but it's manageable and easier than opening up a new account if your bank doesn't issue chip cards.

Never rely on a swipe card as your sole method of payment in a critical situation, but make frequent visits to an ATM and you will be fine with a combination of cash and (chip or no-chip) MasterCard.

  • 1
    My experience is similar, although I have not been in Italy in perhaps 3 years. Every human being was familiar with the swipe section of their reader. Sometimes they had to look for one that worked. Every ATM has still had a swipe slot. Unattended ticket machines are a potential problem. Jan 28, 2016 at 20:07
  • first of all, thanks for your answer, second, i want to go on with deatils with you, but first, i am a new fish in banks so I don't know what you mean by swipe card. i normally use my card when pay so i put the card in the machine, like this aerissecure.com/static/media/uploads/blog/… this is not swipe right? secondly you said that i can use atm, but wil that be with extra fine?
    – sarah
    Jan 28, 2016 at 22:37
  • lastly, why i have to use CVV? I will never ever put my CVV in a machine to pay, that's not normall at all nor in spain nor in portugal. i don't know about usa, but here no one never ever ever put cvv number in these machines.
    – sarah
    Jan 28, 2016 at 22:38
  • @sarah Swipe cards are an outdated type of credit/debit card used by many Americans, but not at all common in Europe. You didn't mention your nationality, so I included the information just in case you were American. Since you aren't American, ignore all of the post containing information about swipe cards (including the part about CVV); the card in the picture you linked is a "chip-and-pin" card, and will thus be accepted almost universally in Italy with no issues. Enjoy your trip!
    – Urbana
    Jan 29, 2016 at 2:50
  • To whomever downvoted my answer, if you explain your motivation, I can improve my answer accordingly. Thanks!
    – Urbana
    Jan 29, 2016 at 2:52

You Will Need an EMV Supported Credit Card

EMV stands for Europay Mastercard and Visa. This is the new standard for security related to PCI compliance in Europe. This standard has been adopted in the United States and is currently being rolled out and is behind schedule.

Most large banks support this standard in the US, Europe and most of Asia.

You can goto your bank if you have not already been issued this type of card. They are frequently referred to as 'chip cards'.

Many banks are increasing their daily withdraw and charge limits if this type of card is being used due to the decreased financial risk to the bank due to the technology. You will want to discover if there is a delta between a standard card or an EMV card if this is important to you.

  • 1
    This is incorrect - swipe cards (not even chip-and-signature) work all over Europe, with the caveats that you should never rely on one as your only payment method in a critical situation, and often the cashier will not know how to handle the card, especially in areas with relatively few American tourists
    – Urbana
    Jan 28, 2016 at 11:29
  • 1
    Swipe cards do not work in many ticket machines and may not be accepted by humans handling the sale.
    – Willeke
    Jan 28, 2016 at 17:37
  • 1
    Ticket machines, sure- but "need" in this answer implies swipe cards are not accepted anywhere, or at least not accepted in general, and my experience as an American tourist is that my swipe card works in more places than I'd expected, although not everywhere.
    – Urbana
    Jan 28, 2016 at 19:37
  • @davidvc My point is, you can have a difficult time. Especially now. The compliance deadline has passed and the rate of adoption is high because the penalty from the card processor can be (and is) to cut off the merchant account for the payee. You can find yourself searching desperately for merchants and/or ATM's that will accept your card if you wait too long to adopt EMV personally.
    – Citizen
    Jan 28, 2016 at 19:39
  • I can also confirm swipe cards did work for me in train ticket machines. But restaurants, and many other places require the chip card nowadays. Never had a problem using non-chip cards in ATMs though.
    – AKS
    Jan 29, 2016 at 10:52

You need to ask your bank; as they are the only ones that control where your card works.

It may be true that all MasterCard-network cards work in Italy, and the widest acceptance is that of EMV "chip" enabled cards; but despite this your bank may block the use of the card.

So, before you travel:

  1. Inform your bank that you will be traveling to Italy.

  2. Ask them if there are any special instructions regarding your card. They may have some agreements with banks for lower fees for cash withdrawals; or other restrictions (for example, maximum amount you can withdraw, maximum POS transaction limit, etc) that you may need to be aware of.


I've owned a chip-and-pin MasterCard credit card issued by an Italian bank for several years. I've used it all around the Italy and in neighbouring European countries. The only instances in which credit cards might not work, regardless of the payment circuit they use (Visa/MasterCard), is at automatic machines such as the ones found at 24h petrol stations, and some train ticket machines like those found at Malpensa airport. Swipe-and-signature cards are usually accepted in places where chip-and-pin cards are too. Indeed the machine will tell you to swipe the card if inserting it in the chip slot doesn't work.

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