San Marino is a microstate, situated to the north of Italy, and a remnant of the times when modern Italy was actually a network of city-states. The population of just over 33,000 is spread largely across the capital city of San Marino, and the larger city of Serravalle, and is among the richest in the world.
If you’re curious and planning a visit to tiny San Marino, you’ll need some cash to enjoy your trip. Using ATMs to withdraw local currency is a convenient choice for many travellers and expats. Here’s all you need to know about using ATMs in San Marino.
San Marino uses the euro and has a well-developed banking network. You should have no problem finding an ATM - which might also be marked up with the word Bankomat - in the cities in this tiny country. However, if you’re headed off the beaten track, then carry cash.
ATMs can be found in bank branches, in shopping centres and near supermarkets. Find the most convenient location for you, using one of the following ATM locators from national and regional banks:
- Savings Bank of the Republic of San Marino branch locator
- Banca di San Marino branch and ATM locator
- Banca Agricola Commerciale ATM locator
- Banca CIS ATM locator
Most major credit and debit cards will be accepted by merchants in San Marino. It’s important to note, though, that Discover card has what is described as ‘emerging’ acceptance with merchants. That means you might struggle to find someone who will accept your card for payment, although there are several ATMs which will accept Discover cards. American Express is also less popular than Visa and Mastercard, so if you’re reliant on your Amex, you might need to check your card will be accepted before you buy anything.
Not all bank cards can be used in all ATMs, but it’s easy enough to find one on the right network using one of the following locators:
- Maestro ATM locator
- Mastercard and Cirrus ATM locator
- Visa, Plus, and Plus Alliance ATM locator
- American Express ATM locator
- Discover ATM locator
Bank cards in San Marino, like most places in Europe, usually have chip and pin technology, and use a 4 digit PIN code.
That means that, if you have a US issued magnetic stripe card, and want to use it in ATMs in San Marino, you’ll need a PIN. You can get the card’s PIN easily enough from your bank before you travel. Cards from other European countries, the UK and Australia, for example, which usually have chip and pin technology and should be accepted with no problem.
Wherever in the world you travel, you’ll find that your home maximum daily cash withdrawal limit will apply to the ATMs you want to use overseas, just like in your home country. However, if you don’t have an upper limit set on your account, then the ATM providers rules will apply instead.
As fraudsters get smarter, so do banks. Bank fraud departments quietly track all of your transactions, so they can limit or block your card if they spot unusual activity. This is a great protection, but can also mean that if they don’t know you’re planning on being abroad, you might find that they put a stop on your card for safety, until they can confirm it’s you using it.
Tell them of your plans in advance and you should be able to use your card as normal during your trip.
Using an ATM to get any cash you need, as you need it, during your trip, is a convenient option. However, using ATMs abroad usually isn’t free. There are a few fees - and potential ripoffs - you need to know about before you use your home bank card in an ATM in San Marino.
Dynamic currency conversion (DCC) is a very common - and avoidable - rip off when using an ATM abroad. You might have already seen DCC on your travels - it’s where you’re asked if you want to pay in your home currency when you’re buying something or using an ATM, instead of paying in the local currency.
Banks and ATM operators say that this is a service, to make your life easier. However, DCC transactions leave you exposed to hidden fees. The exchange rate used is often not the real, mid-market rate - the one you’d find on google. Instead, you get a poor deal, as the bank or ATM provider can mark up the exchange rate and keep the difference as their profit. You only see the amount expressed in your home currency so the true exchange rate isn’t easy to work out. You’ll get a better deal if you always choose to pay in the local currency instead.
Many banks add their own fees when their customers use their debit or credit card abroad. Before you travel, check out the international cash withdrawal fees, which will be covered in your bank account terms and conditions.
Aside from your own bank, you might also find an extra fee added by the San Marino bank or ATM provider, if you use your foreign bank card to withdraw cash.
If your home bank works in partnership with one of the local banks in San Marino then you might be able to reduce or eliminate ATM fees. However, in most cases, the chances are that you’ll face fees at some point during your transaction - either from your own bank or the ATM provider.
Even if you can’t get rid of all ATM fees, you can reduce ATM fees in San Marino with a few simple tricks.
The best way to get cheap or free ATM use is if your bank has any local partner in San Marino. Often banks work together like this to make sure their customers can get the best deal on ATM withdrawals even when they’re abroad. Check before you travel.
If you have several accounts to choose from, make sure you’re using the one which offers the best deal on international ATM usage. Terms can vary pretty wildly in this respect. Foreign currency cash advances using a credit card are usually an expensive choice so it’s best to avoid this if possible.
Not all ATMs offer the same deal, and some independent ATMs in tourist locations might not offer a great value. You’re usually better to stick to ATMs attached to banks and in supermarkets or shopping centres if you can.
The most important piece of advice when using an overseas ATM - steer clear of DCC. Always choose to pay in local currency, to make sure you’re not hit with high fees and poor exchange rates.
Every traveller wants a simple - and transparently priced - way to get access to their money abroad. If that sounds like you, then TransferWise might be the answer. You get the real, mid-market exchange rate on every transfer, with upfront fees so you know you’re getting a fair deal.
If you, or the person you’re visiting, has a local San Marino bank account, you can transfer money between accounts before you travel with TransferWise. This will always be done using the best exchange rate available, and you don’t need to worry about nasty hidden charges. Then just withdraw cash from the local account, from ATMs, during your visit, and you could beat fees entirely.
Frequent travellers could benefit even more with a borderless multi-currency account from TransferWise. This allows you to hold your cash in any one of dozens of different currencies, including euros, for a flexible way to manage your money, with no monthly account fees. If you activate your debit card for the account and pay with your euro balance in shops and restaurants, then there’s no need to worry about ATM fees, or dodgy exchange rate rip-offs.
Travelling is seldom cheap and San Marino is certainly not a place to be short of cash. Getting the most from your money is crucial, and using ATMs can be a smart way to limit the fees you have to pay. Alternatively, use TransferWise, to send money to a local account, and withdraw cash from ATMs as you need it, or spend using your borderless multi-currency account card, and avoid ATMs altogether.
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