Using Starling in Italy 🇮🇹


Hi all. I’m traveling to Florence in a week, and for the first time planning to travel with relatively small amounts of cash, armed mainly with my Starling card (which is now my primary bank account), and a backup Visa Debit.

Looking for some general hints and tips for using cards in Europe - support for card payments, ATM withdrawals etc - and potentially any advice more Italy-centric. I’ve read that Italy is still very much a cash society, and some merchants are reluctant to accept cards (maybe due to fees, hiding transactions from the tax man etc.). In light of this, ATM withdrawals will probably be important.

Any advice for a newbie Starling traveller?

Best ATMs to use in Rome

Before they adopted the Euro you would find when paying with cash at some small independent retailers that they would give you sweets or biscuits in your change in place of the lower denomination coins.

Not sure if they still do this.


Cards are accepted in all major towns and cities, however cash is king in small villages where many outlets don’t accept cards at all and others prefer cash for low spends.

The only thing I will say is not every place seemed to work with contactless.

ATMs that support Mastercard will support Starling cards, with very few charging to withdraw cash. So far all ATMs seem to be chip and PIN, magstripe not required.


Big retailers and big chains all accept cards. In major cities nearly all shops accept cards, but you will find some cafes and restaurants don’t.

Mastercard is widely accepted and all the big bank ATM’s accept Mastercard so you won’t struggle to withdraw cash. In small towns and villages ATM are often not from major banks so it will be hit and miss on whether or not they accept Mastercard, although nowadays even the smaller local banks are starting to accept more cards.

Smaller towns and villages it will be random on whether they accept cards or not, generally they don’t have card terminals because they use personal bank accounts.


Me and my partner are travelling to Rome, Italy this October.

Does anyone know the best ATMs to use that don’t have or incur the smallest fees?


Italian Banks don’t generally charge a fee for using an ATM so you shouldn’t have a problem if you stick to actual ATM’s at bank branches rather than random ones.

The odd one might charge but they make it clear, but all major banks in Italy are transaction charge free. Italian banks generally charge for having an account, so don’t charge for extras.


Just come back from Lake Iseo (didnt hear an English voice for the whole week!) and a few days in Milan and used Starling for 99% of the transactions… worked flawlessly. I took a backup debit card as well but never needed it.

Safe travels!


I used my Starling card throughout Italy and very often in rural Sicily for both cash withdrawals and paying bills and there were no problems at all. I found card acceptance / usage to be at a very high level although cash is always useful for small fares , charges etc