Banking & Money
Banking & Money
Prepare a plan for your time at SACI with the following information on money transactions and banking in Florence.
While many operations are just as simple as in the US, some - such as opening an Italian bank account - can be slightly more complicated and are not recommended.
With advances in technology, it is easier than ever to do banking worldwide. You should be able to carry out most transactions easily while abroad, provided you inform your home bank that you will be overseas, and set up your account accordingly. Different banking options will be covered during Orientation, but you will NOT have to set up a bank account in Florence. If you have any questions particular to your situation, please speak to someone in the Administrative Office.
Before leaving, find out if your bank has a website, or put your account online to keep close tabs on activity. It is also good to get a number for assistance from your bank that is not a “1-800” number since many 1-800 numbers cannot be called from overseas. Remember to budget extra money for emergencies! A good way to budget is by arranging a monthly deposit into your ATM account.
Students planning their budgets should allow approximately $1000 a month for food, supplies, and personal expenses.
The easiest way to get money while in Italy is to use your ATM or credit card to take out money from your home bank account. ATM machines (Bancomat) that have corresponding symbols (e.g., VISA, MasterCard, Cirrus, STAR, etc.) are everywhere in Europe. IMPORTANT: be sure to activate your credit cards and ATM cards for international use before you leave and check to make sure your PIN number will work in Italy since Italian ATMs use 5-digit PINs. Ask your bank what the service fee is to withdraw money, and budget accordingly.
Using Small Bills
We recommend bringing or using small bills. It is very difficult to find storeowners who will accept or give change for large bills. The post office, for example, does not accept €500 bills, and banks will change them only if you have an account with that bank.
Through Western Union, anyone can send or receive money internationally. The sender brings the money to any Western Union agent, fills out a short form, pays the service fee and receives a receipt with a control number. The sender then informs the receiver of the transfer. The receiver goes to any Western Union agent, provides identification (knowing the control number will help), and immediately gets the full amount in cash. You may be asked the sender’s name and the amount expected, and if you know ahead of time that you will be receiving a large amount of money, you may wish to notify the office where you plan to pick it up so they can be sure to have that quantity of cash on hand.
Change Point - Via Calzaiuoi 3/r, tel. 055 2398057
VIP (Internet Point) - Via Faenza, 49, tel. 055 2645552
Caffè Salvemini - Piazza Salvemini 22, tel. 055 2480972
Additionally, all Mailboxes Etc. stores are branch offices for Western Union services.
For further information, call the Italian toll free number 800 220055.
You can change money at any one of the many change shops or banks in Florence. Rates and transaction fees can vary greatly. It is usually cheaper to change money at a bank than at change points. The exchange rates and transaction fees for changing traveler's checks does not make this option a very favorable one.
Banks are open weekdays 8:20 am-1:20 pm; 2:45 pm-3:45 pm (this may vary slightly according to the bank).
Cash Exchange Machines
Foreign currency can be changed after bank hours at currency exchange machines and booths scattered around Florence. However, you will be charged a transaction fee and the exchange rate is never the best.
Opening an Italian Bank Account
If you’re thinking about opening a bank account, you might want to think again, since it is often more hassle than it is worth. There is a large closing fee, and you might end up paying taxes that get automatically withdrawn from your account. With all the advances in bank account management available now, it doesn’t make sense to complicate your life with a foreign account.
Some of you may have a “correspondent” bank in Florence which deals with your bank on a regular basis. These banks will be glad to see you and help you. Ask your home bank for details.
Lost or Stolen Credit Cards
If you have lost your credit card, do not panic. What you need to do is call one of the following numbers AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, to block the card. Everybody has been in that situation at least once, and we know how terrible it feels, but blocking the card will immediately make you feel a bit better, and a lot safer.
Contact info: 800 018548
VISA - tel. 800 819014
MASTERCARD - tel. 800 870866
AMERICAN EXPRESS - tel. 800 914912