Carry cash or ATM card?

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Sep 12th, 1999, 11:45 PM
  #1
bruce
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Carry cash or ATM card?

Hello,

Would like to get some advice on whether it is better to carry traveler's checks or ATM card. The thought of relying on ATM cards while in Europe seems scary, but, have been told they work fine over there. My wife is about carrying all cash in form of traveler's checks with us for fear of losing them/robbery. Advice please....

thanks, bruce
 
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Sep 13th, 1999, 02:26 AM
  #2
Ben Haines
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I travel on the continent twice a year and have not bought travellers cheques for a decade now. In Yugoslavia I use German cash, and I hear Albania is similar. Everywhere else I carry German coins just to get me from the station to the nearest ATM, and then the machines. But I agree that to rely on one card is scary: I carry four, two MasterCard and two Visa. These days various British issuers offer them for free. I have them in various places, pocket and baggage, and when I am settled in one place then in the hotel-keeper's drawer. Like your wife, I don't carry needless valuables around while walking in cities. In Europe we use 4-digit PIN codes: your card issuers can give you these if you haven't them already.

To assure yourself that there are plenty of machines you can read
http://www.visa.com/pd/atm/ and http://mastercard.com/atm/

Please write within 24 hours if I can help further. Welcome to Europe.

Ben Haines, London

 
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Sep 13th, 1999, 05:21 AM
  #3
Paulo
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We also carry a bunch of plastic cards (5 between my wife and me, different issuers) and have relied on ATMs the last 6, 7 years. From time to time we had problems with one or two cards (bad magnetic strip, no communication to the bank computer server, etc) but never with all of them at one time. Just in case, we also carry three US$100 bills for emergencies ... we never touched them!

Paulo

 
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Sep 13th, 1999, 07:31 AM
  #4
elvira
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The guys have it pegged: have a couple of cards (I have two - one MC, one Visa) for the ATM. I also have a couple of credit cards that I try to use as much as possible so I don't have to carry any cash. Haven't bought a TC in years! I, too, carry a couple of $100 bills in a safe place - yet to use them.
I always get about $50 in local currency at the American Express office or my bank before I leave so I have moolah to buy a coffee or a coke before tackling airport transportation (caffeine addicts understand this).
 
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Sep 13th, 1999, 04:54 PM
  #5
M & J
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We use the ATMs, carry a couple blank checks if we need to cash 'em at American Express, only carry enough cash for the day in our pockets (everything of any value in money belts) and have some US currency stashed. We wear inexpensive (okay, cheap) watches and rings.
 
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Sep 13th, 1999, 09:24 PM
  #6
Donna
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It's most important to take what you're most comfortable with and to be prepared for contingencies. We rely on our ATM cards, but were sure glad to have traveler's checks in French Francs when ours didn't work on a trip to Paris (something the bank has never been able to explain). I think you should listen to your wife. My husband paid me no heed and was relieved of a bit of cash by pickpockets on the metro in Paris.
 
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Sep 21st, 1999, 05:17 AM
  #7
Naomi Griffith
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Carry traveler's checks as an emergency resource, but you probably won't need to cash them until you return home to redeposit the money. Using ATMs in Europe is easier than in the U.S. They're practically on every block in popular pedestrian squares and outside banks. Differentiate between using your credit card for cash advances and using a bank debit card. Use the bank debit card, if you only are charged a non-bank ATM usage fee. Remember, many credit cards are not increasing the fees for use of their cards outside the U.S. One thing that may be unsettling to U.S. citizens is that you probably will not receive a printed receipt for your transaction, so keep your own records and record the ATM number.
 
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Sep 21st, 1999, 05:20 AM
  #8
Donna
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If you do take traveler's checks and don't need them, use them toward your hotel bill to avoid changing them back if you've brought them in the foreign denomination.
 
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Sep 21st, 1999, 05:45 AM
  #9
Beth
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I took TC's in US dollars as emergency backup for our ATM and credit cards, and never used one. We had little trouble with our ATM cards in Italy. However, it is true that they have network problems more frequently than in the US. My one hint to you would be to not wait until you are out of money to try and get more cash. There was one day we couldn't get cash all afternoon. Fortunately we weren't out, we could wait till the next day.
 
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Sep 21st, 1999, 07:18 PM
  #10
Kittie
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Bruce,

When we were in Germany and London in 1995, the merchants preferred cash instead of traveller's checks. There was a 'bank fee' of three DM per traveller's check-in Germany- when the merchant deposited the check in a bank. I personally prefer atm machines to get cash from. My cards worked fine in Europe in 1995. We will be going to Iceland and Scotland late next month. If you would like to know how we fared with atm cards, please feel free to email me.
kittie
 
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Sep 22nd, 1999, 09:19 AM
  #11
rebecca
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Just returned and used debit cards at ATMs in London with no problem. Took traveller's checks as a backup, cashed them in on my return home. Took 40 pounds in cash, kept all money in a money pouch around my neck under my shirt and tucked into my waistband. Used my VISA and friends Mastercard whenever possible, and got a much better exchange rate (On the day of the trip, a pound cost $2.44 Canadian, on my VISA it cost from $2.38 to $2.41). Enjoy your trip.
 
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Sep 22nd, 1999, 02:33 PM
  #12
bp
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Just returned from Europe and did not take travelers checks. We were unable to get money out in Munich for some reason??? We fortunately had $300 in cash and waited until we went to Zurich where our card worked again!!
 
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Sep 22nd, 1999, 02:34 PM
  #13
bp
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Just returned from Europe and did not take travelers checks. We were unable to get money out in Munich for some reason??? We fortunately had $300 in cash and waited until we went to Zurich where our card worked again!!
 
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Sep 23rd, 1999, 06:36 AM
  #14
becky
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There was a similar thread during the spring. It seems to the that there were substantial fees being assessed by the card companies for ATM use. Does anyone know what the fees are and how they vary?
 
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Sep 23rd, 1999, 08:09 AM
  #15
ddt
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The rate for using an American Express card at an ATM machine just went from 2% to 3%.
 
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Sep 23rd, 1999, 08:09 AM
  #16
ddt
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The rate for using an American Express card at an ATM machine just went from 2% to 3%.
 
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Sep 26th, 1999, 04:47 AM
  #17
Geoff
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I used an ATM card for my travels to Greece and Turkey in 97. They worked fine. Also, I did take some TC as backup, and spent them at the airport duty free. I am off to Hungary and Vienna and will be doing the same...relying on ATM and some TC.
Enjoy.
 
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Sep 26th, 1999, 10:47 AM
  #18
lynn
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Hi -

TC's are a joke.

For a 7-10 trip I always take about $1,000 to $1,500 in cash in US$100 bills, ATM card with 4 digit pin, and several different Visa, MC, and Am Ex cards for large purchases and emergencies.

Don't even bother with TC. Most merchants don't like them.
 
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Oct 22nd, 1999, 02:54 PM
  #19
Patrick Ashton
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Spent two months in Europe this summer and did 11 ATM withdrawals (from bank checking account, not borrowing on credit card). Never had a problem, and the highest fee was $ 1.50, plus an even slightly lower (or sometimes the same) exchange rate as the charges on my mastercard. These transactions took place in London, Paris, Italy, Malta, and Switzerland. I have had the same experience in many other countries.
 
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