Overseas visitor numbers are soaring in beautiful Milan, one of the world’s top fashion cities of the world. For business or pleasure, there’s never been a better time to go - but it’s a city best enjoyed with cash in your pocket.
If you’re planning a visit - for whatever reason - you’ll be needing some Euros. Use this guide to avoid the rip-offs and find the best places to exchange your cash while you’re in Italy.
It can be hard to determine if you're getting a fair deal on your currency exchange when travelling.
Here are five tips to keep more cash in your pocket when you exchange your home currency to local euros.
- Research the mid-market rate to know how much your money is really worth.
- Compare the exchange rate you’re offered with the real rate online using an online currency converter.
- If you can help it, stay away from exchanging your cash in airports and hotels.
- ATMs generally offer better deals, but ask your local bank if they have any partnerships with banks in Milan.
- Avoid having foreign ATMs do any conversion on your behalf - always choose to be charged in the local currency (EUR, in this case).
The mid-market rate is the one banks use when trading currency between themselves, and it’s the ‘real’ rate you’ll find on Google. The offered tourist rates in Milan will be lower than this due to the added commission, but you can choose the fairest one by comparing the rate you’re offered to the mid-market rate. Make sure to also take into account any upfront charges and fees that are added.
Having access to an online currency converter will certainly help you. The converter shows the mid-market rate for the currency exchange you want to make so you won’t have to go searching every time when you make your comparisons.
Although the locations are convenient, it's best to avoid airport and hotel exchanges as they often offer poor rates. A better alternative is to use an ATM once you arrive. This is just as convenient and can offer a better overall deal.
Before you go, ask your home bank if they work in partnership with any Italian banks. If they have reciprocal agreements in place, you might get fees waived by using partner banks’ ATMs. Also notify your bank if you’re planning to use your card overseas, so they can note this on your account.
If you're using a foreign card to withdraw cash, you may be asked by your ATM if you want to be charged in your home currency. Decline this offer. Being charged in your home currency means the ATM will apply an unknown (and usually poorer) rate to the conversion, and may charge an extra fee. Make sure you're charged in the local currency instead for the fairest deal. Another way it’s often worded is whether you wish to have your home bank or the ATM do the conversion for you. In this case, choose your home bank’s conversion rate.
If you're left with any additional euros at the end of your trip, spend it or keep it for your next journey into the Eurozone. Changing unwanted currency back only means you're hit by charges and fees a second time - not the wisest move.
Changing cash in Milan can be costly. Be sure to shop around, and really understand what you're paying for - charges of nearly 20% aren't unheard of. Whichever exchange service you select will add fees - whether this charge is shown to you upfront, or wrapped up in the offered rate.
Forexchange (website only in Italian)
Offering 13 separate locations in Milan including branches in train and bus stations. Use Forexchange’s Milan Store Locator to find the nearest office.
800 305357 (general help line)
Hours vary, though most locations are open 7 days a week.
BFC (Best and Fast Change, Italy)
|Piazza Duomo, 17, Milan||02 72015912|
Everyday 8:30am - 9:15pm
For an even better deal with low, transparent fees - use TransferWise. If you (or a friend) have an Italian bank account, you can transfer money between accounts using the real mid-market exchange rate.
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