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Cash , Credit Card or Travelers Checks which one is the best?

Cash , Credit Card or Travelers Checks which one is the best?

Old Nov 14th, 2003, 09:36 AM
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Cash , Credit Card or Travelers Checks which one is the best?

OK travelers , which one do you prefer and why?
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 09:39 AM
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As has been mentioned numerous times, ATM cards and credit cards for non cash purchases is the way to go.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 09:40 AM
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Cash, ATM card, and credit cards.

Traveler's checks are harder to use than they were years ago. You'll get your best exchange rate with an ATM card for obtaining cash, as well as credit cards.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 09:44 AM
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Do you really work for a bank? It's not a good idea to use only one source of money, in fact, you can't. You can't use a credit card to buy a newspaper, for example. I would not carry a lot of cash around with me when traveling.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 10:14 AM
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Thanks for the help, and yes I do work for a bank, and yes bankers like to ask questions, because I like not being wrong. (although I'll never tell when I am! LOL)
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 10:17 AM
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I am with Statia- Cash, ATM, and CC are the best way to go. I use my credit card as a last resort.

Larry- I also am a banker (although my bank is much smaller than Wachovia). I can tell by your last post exaclty what it is you do for the bank...
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 10:28 AM
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Erin, thanks for your response as well. Statia is located where? And what exactly do I do for the bank, besides asking questions in the "Fodors" travel talk?
I'll definitely use the three sources of travel funds.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 10:35 AM
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Statia is located about 4 posts up from your last one.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 10:53 AM
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LarryBall:

I may be in the minority here, but on my recent three-week trip to Europe, I used cash EXCLUSIVELY. My travel partner did bring a credit card with her, just in case, but we didn't end up using it.

We did not walk around with HUGE amounts of cash, either. Rather, we stopped at the ATM machine about every other day and took out just enough money for the next couple of days (usually about 200 Euros) which we then stored in our money belts---all but about 20-30 Euros at a time, which we kept in our purses for "walking around money."

The only exception to this was when we were checking out of our hotel. On those occasions, we would simply go directly to the nearest ATM, take out enough to pay the hotel bill, and go directly back to the hotel with the cash. The large number of ATMs in Europe meant that we never walked more than a couple of blocks with the cash.

We found this to be a great process for us and will do it again on our next trip. We were able to stay on budget and we got the absolute best exchange rate this way (somewhere between .75% and 1% difference between the average daily exchange rate and what we paid.). Since neither of our banks charged us for making the withdrawals from the ATMs, this was clearly the most economic option.

Finally, doing it this way means that nothing but memories followed us home from our trip--certainly not any pesky credit card bills!

Jennie
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 01:44 PM
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Traveler Checks are safer than walking around with huge amounts of cash on your person, but with cc and atms not near as practical. We will have a few with us for backup use basically.

It is getting harder and harder to find banks that will accept them, and they are picky about which brand. Banks would tell us we'd have to go to the Post Office and the next time/town we'd go to the Post office and they'd tell us we'd have to go to the bank! Most of them didn't want to cash any larger amount, only "emergency funds" we were told! You can also get stuck on the exchange rate, after you (maybe) have already had to pay for the traveler checks when you got them.

We stuck to cc for the most part and never had a problem.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 01:52 PM
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Hi Larry,

I bring some TCs as emergency backup.

I change about $100 at the departure airport, paying the few dollars extra, to have some cash when I arrive.

I use my ATM card for pocket money and my CC for anyplace that they will take it.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 02:01 PM
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Erin: I agree, cc only as a last resort. Nothing worse than coming home from a trip that's not paid for.

Larry: Dutch West Indies, actually. Funny you would ask, however.

rcc: Good one. LOL!
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 02:04 PM
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Hi Larry. Before departure from home, I acquire a few euro notes to pay cab fare. After arrival in Europe, my first line of defense WAS my Wachovia credit card, but then your company started adding on 2% for a conversion fee. So I changed to another company (MBNA) that does not charge the extra fee.

My second line of defense is my gold Wachovia ATM card and also a Wachovia check card for backup just in case some aTM machine develops a taste for American plastic.

My third line of defense is a few travelers checks which I carry just in case I need a true emergency reserve.

I have used 2 checks in 6 trips. Some of the checks have logged enough miles for a free ticket! I don't like to use the checks for two big reasons: they are hard, next to impossible, to use in stores, and banks extract a punitive fee for cashing them.

Once, on 9/12, I was glad to have the checks as a security blanket because who knew for a day or two whether the banks would operate normally? Nor did we know for sure if international banking would be possible.

One thing was certain: From 9/12 through about 9/16 my airplane ticket was not going to get me home.

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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 03:12 PM
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Statia: the idea is to have the money in the bank at home, use your credit card (airmile-points,etc) everywhere you can, and pay it off as soon as you get home before the interest starts in.

I, too, hate paying long-term after the trip...definitely detracts from the fun memories.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 04:10 PM
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You got it, Klondie! Agreed!
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 04:17 PM
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I guess I don't get this concern with "paying long term after the trip". If you have enough in the bank to withdraw from an ATM, then why wouldn't you just pay off your credit card in full as soon as you returned? What long term? And 2% or not, I hate to give up those miles I get on my credit card. That's the only way I can afford to go to Europe business class every year to begin with -- using miles.
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Old Nov 14th, 2003, 04:46 PM
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hi,

this is the other erin.

After my recent trip and some problems we had, I have had some time to think about this and would like to recommend some creative and different options.

1)consider opening a travel checking account several months before your trip. shop around and find a bank with low conversion rates on international atms and purchases from that account using a VISA CHECK CARD on the account. make sure to request a second card as back up just in case a machine damages the first one. (you would always leave one in the hotel safe).

2)if you can't pay for your trip on your own money and have to use credit to finance the trip, consider getting the cash advances on the credit card prior to leaving the states and depositing that money in that travel checking account. take the credit card, and any limit you have left on it with you, as backup just in case.

3)and/or take a seperate atm card for access to your savings account for backup. in this case however, you need to have an atm card for just that savings account alone. do not have any other accounts on it and make sure they show the savings as primary. most international atms will not access a secondary account on an american atm card (which for most is the savings account). it will access the primary account only. if you have a checking with the same bank, that checking is usually the primary. so your backup savings would not be accessable and why so many have problems accessing that savings account overseas. specify the savings on the card only, or open up a seperate savings account at another bank.

okay why a seperate travel checking account and why a VISA CHECK CARD versus regular atm card or a special debit card?

most of us online are taking advantage of billpay or direct drafts for things like mortgages, car payments, etc. out of our everyday checking account. Many of us in this day and age use our everyday checking for direct payroll deposit. think of the horror of having to shut it down if something happened to your card. and having to switch all those bills and direct deposit.

I would not bring my everyday checking account visa check card for that reason this time. I watched a good friend have to go thru that close down and re-route process and it took several months before everything was straightened out. Granted, very few of us will ever have that problem, but its going to happen to someone, and so why take the chance.

Most banks are competitive in checking accounts these days and most automatically issue a visa check card for the checking account if you want one. so, why take the chance if it is easy to open another account. use it as kind of a savings account prior to your trip. even if you end up closing it the month after you come back to avoid monthly fees, it would still work for the time you had it. and if you already have some saved up, you can open that account with a high balance and avoid most monthly fees while you have it. also make sure to get visa logo check cards, not debit cards, because they are not always accepted for purchases in some stores.

Why the second recommendation? if you can't afford your trip on your own and need credit card money to do so, why not borrow that cash in the states off the card before you go and deposit it in your checking account a day or two before you leave. You will then avoid the 2 or 3% concersion fees on both purchases and cash advances. You would not have those fees if advance it in the states.

The savings account option is good for those that do not wish to use credit for their trip or do not have credit cards and wish to place some of their eggs in a different basket so to speak. Lets say your visa check card is stolen. You will not be able to use your backup, because you reported the other card, which is just a duplicate. what are you going to do for cash while you are waiting for a replacement. if the savings account is at the same bank, a call to your bank would have them shifting your funds from the checking to savings, at least giving you access to cash at an atm.

my whole theory behind these suggestions is 1)protect what you use at home everyday from risk, and 2)establishing some backup, even if you don't have a regular credit card. I know for some of you that sound ludicrious, but I actually only have one credit card myself. it's too expensive to have several these days and too easy to use them if you have them.

so, my recommendation is to set up a special travel checking account and get 2 cards that are VISA logo check cards so you are assured in being able to use for atm and purchases. bring your credit card as back up, or transfer cash advances to that checking account before you leave the states. consider a savings only atm as backup if you don't have a credit card.

erinb
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