Best way to spend money abroad?

Hi all

I’m going to Italy in the summer and was wondering what the best way to spend money abroad is?

  1. Using Monzo card
  2. Get a transferwise card, put the amount in euros on transferwise and spend that. Can this be done?
  3. Take money out as cash. Would rather not do this as it’s not very safe.
  4. ???

I don’t have much money and I’ve been saving for ages, so every spare euro counts.


Depends on your limits but Starling deserves a shout here.

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Thanks. What does it’s exchange rate compare to? Would be looking at around £500, if need to figure out the best time to convert. Will probably wait until after brexit.

Don’t really want to open too many accounts tbh. That’s why I haven’t got the transferwise card yet (does it count as a bank?).


Decent comparison here:

Monzo should be fine abroad, Starling just has a but higher limits.

Not sure re TransferWise!


I’d be mostly spending on card, only using cash as an emergency.

Does Monzo have a limit on abroad spending using the card?


No don’t think so. Only difference is in ATM fees. Which to be honest, both should be high enough to get by.

Where you heading? We’re going to Sorrento this year, I have family in Torino which couldn’t be much further away from where we are!

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Interrailing with two friends from Naples up north to Munich. Still need to decide if we are going to but the interrailing ticket or buy the train tickets locally. :confused: Milan to bergamo is something I do often when I visit my grandma and it only costs around ten euros, so may be cheaper to just buy the tickets from the station. :slightly_smiling_face:

We’ll be flying into Naples. I’m trying to decide whether to get the train into Sorrento or not. It’s a bit of a dodgy part of the world, I wouldn’t want to carry too much cash in Naples.

Last time I was there I had 10k worth of camera equipment, my spider sense were tingling.

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Lol we are also going to Naples! Then going to move up to Rome. Mainly going there to see Pompeii.

Yea I don’t want to carry 500 euro around there. Debating on whether to bring my cheap htc instead of my iPhone too, but don’t think it’s that bad.

Do you know the rough price of the train from Naples to Rome?

Also, is there a difference between the exchanges rate of Monzo and the exchange rate of starling? I presume not as they are both MasterCard?


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No I think they both use the same rate. Just remember the rate can change as the payment is settled, especially if you’re taking it close to the £500 you’re taking.

Naples to Rome was about €15 Euros.

For Pompeii you’ll be on the Circumvesuviana which is dead cheap!

Pompeii station is quaint, it’s a very eerie quiet place. Definitely worth a visit. If you stop off in Sorrento there’s some lovely cliff side bars that overlook Vesuvius.



Thanks so much! I’ll most likely look at buying the tickets there then. It would be £95 for three of us to travel on three days on the month so it would be way cheaper to get the tickets individually. I’m guessing they stay the same price, and you can just turn up to the stations and buy them like in the U.K.?

We are planning:

  1. Naples
  2. Rome
  3. Florence
  4. Venice
  5. Verona
  6. Innsbruck
  7. Munich

Fly into Naples, out of Munich. Staying for around 14 days.

Is there a site with accurate prices for train tickets?

I also plan to unfreeze and freeze my card so it’s only unfrozen when I use it to avoid scams/money being stolen. Is this a good idea and practical!

Sorrento is the island right? I think one of my friends want to go there, it looks pretty cool!

Thanks so much for the help!

No worries! I just turned up on the day. The trains were really regular and I could easily get to where I needed to.

What a trip! You’ll have a great time I’m sure.

I used Italiarail before, not sure if they’re the cheapest. It might work out cheaper to drive and bus parts though? Presuming you have a confident driver!

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No you may be thinking of Sicily. Sorrento is just south of Naples, effecting 40 mins around the bay.

Only one of us has a licence atm for under a year so I don’t think we would be able to rent a car. Trains is the way I think.

I’ll look at the train tickets and pitch to my friends that it’s cheaper. £95 does sound expensive for three trips.


I’ll be honest, I’m a huge Monzo fan, but a few weeks ago converted a chunk of GBP to EUR on my Transferwise card. I did that as I was prepared to accept the exchange rate of 1.15 and lock in the cash. Monzo is also fee free for spending abroad but you get the exchange rate on the day.

If everything goes pear shaped on 29th March, and the rate plummets, I’ll be quids in. If it goes the other way, I’ll have lost. But I took the decision to fix my rate now.

I’d say the decision you need to make is to risk the rate when you travel (Monzo) or fix a rate (Transferwise).

The only other thing I’d say is never travel with just one card. Take two at least and preferably on different payment networks (Mastercard, VISA, American Express).


Ah, I was thinking of the little island south of Naples, these ones.


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I don’t want to fix out the money yet. I’d most likely wait a little.

I’d probably be using £500, and I might not even spend it all. That’s around €570 - how much would I save using transferwise vs Monzo?

I’m just worried that I wouldn’t spend it all and therefore lose money converting it back.

We also plan to use hostelworld for our hostels. They charge a deposit/booking fee and then we pay per night there. Does anyone know if this is in £ or €?


If you’re converting on the fly while you’re there obviously I can say which would be cheaper. I prefer to fix and know the exchange rate I’m getting, then if there’s any spare keep it on the card as I’ll be heading back to Europe at some point. But yes, you’d lose if you converted more then you needed and then converted back.

The basic decision comes down to this.

If you convert now, and hold Euros in your TransferWise account, you’ll know exactly how much you’ve spent, and may be easier to budget.

So if you say £500 is €570 now, you’ll be able to spend in Euros when abroad knowing the max you’ll have spent is £500.

If you have some left over, you may actually make some money on it when converting back - It purely depends on how the exchange rate fluctuates between the £ to € conversion, and the € to £ conversion.

If you decide to use your Monzo (or Starling) card abroad, you’ll not know the exact exchange rate at the time of purchase.

Whatever you buy will show up instantly in your app (in both £ and €), but it won’t settle for 2-3 business days, which means you won’t truly know what you’ve spent for this time.

Generally, it doesn’t change much, and if it does, it’s likely to be pennies.

The only time I can imagine a big shift (if it actually happens), is around the deadline for Brexit.

I generally don’t bother converting the money beforehand, but I can see why people would do it now, if they are concerned with the impact of what a “no deal” vote would do to the exchange rate (general consensus is that it will be worse for the £, so £500 may only buy you €500 in a few months time).

Obviously they are examples above, but hopefully that makes it clear.

Enjoy your trip :grinning:


Thanks. I think I’ll wait as the trip is in June so hopefully everything’s eill have settled down by then.

Thank you!