If you want to stroll through Vatican museums or pay your respects at the tomb of St. Peter, you’ll have to hit an ATM first. Like your favorite local dive bar, the Holy See now accepts cash only.
As of January 1, debit and credit cards will not work in the Vatican. Italy’s Central Bank has cut authorization of payment services to the city-state, and as a result, cash is the only form of payment now accepted there.
The move was made to protect against money laundering. According to a report from The Washington Post, “The Bank of Italy said in a statement this week it had no choice but to order the block because the Vatican has no banking regulatory framework or EU-recognized alternative for anti-money-laundering purposes.” Representatives from the Vatican argue that the city-state has indeed taken the necessary steps to prevent money laundering.
The Vatican foresees that use of credit cards will get the Bank of Italy’s blessing soon, and that the current cash-only fix will be brief. But for now, if you’re heading to the city, your best bet is to withdraw euros at an ATM before you get there. (We generally recommend getting cash from an ATM while overseas, as opposed to using currency-exchange desks, which often hit travelers with high transaction fees.)
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