COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Stay up to date with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.   Learn More >

Cash, Traveler's checks or c.c.

Old Jun 9th, 2004, 11:01 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 46
Cash, Traveler's checks or c.c.

Dear Fellow Travelers,
I have been saving cash for about 4 years to get back to Italy. With the Euro being so strong against the dollar; should I exchange it for Euro's here or exchange it for Traveler's checks? Also, I have a VISA but not an ATM (I have never needed one). Can a Credit card do the same transactions in Europe. Forgive this stupidity but I'm so unclear at this point.
Thanks again!
Cinzia is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2004, 11:08 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,568
Now you do need an ATM card. Take that cash to a bank and open a checking account. You will always get the best rate of excange by withdrawing Euro from an ATM (about 1% over the official rate). Any transaction involving the exchange of one currency for another (or trav checks) will cost at least 5% over the official rate.

Use "ATM" as a search term to read zillions of messages on this topic. The consensus of these experienced travelers is ATMs.
kayd is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2004, 11:10 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,655
NO to exchanging money before you travel OR traveller's cheques. Get an ATM card, and use both cash machines and visa on your trip - this way you'll get the best rates for your money. It's also a heck of a lot more convenient.

Credit cards are accepted widely, but you might want to check with smaller hotels and small restaurants, as occasionally you may find one that prefers cash.
Kate is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2004, 11:11 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,568
Oops, I sent too soon. To continue . . .
Credit cards are widely accepted, but you will still need some cash, and ATMs are the cheapest and easiest way to get it.
kayd is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2004, 11:11 AM
  #5  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,633
Hi Cinzia,

I suggest that you open a checking account and put your travel money into it.

Get an ATM card to go with the account.

Bring this and a credit card with you.

Charge everything you can and use the ATM for cash.

This way you will get the best exchange rate.

TCs are useful only as an emergency reserve.

Do NOT use a CC to get cash from an ATM. It is a "cash advance" and you are charged interest.
ira is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2004, 11:12 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,244
Do exactly as kayd says!!!

Use your credit card for purchases, pay for hotel/rental car, meals, and major purchases. Use the debit card for getting and using cash. It will cost you a big transaction fee to exchange your travelers checks, plus you get a crapy exchange rate.

Take a few dollars or travelers checks only for emergencies.
Budman is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2004, 11:28 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 93,690
Cinzia~ Most people agree an ATM card is a necessily for travel these days and I'd encourage you to get one.

I play it safe with this combination: $3-400 U.S. cash in 20's to change into local currency at a bank once I arrive; an ATM card with a 4-digit pin to withdraw from my checking account (usually the only charge is the international fee from your home bank, typically $0-3US) every few days; a credit card for the hotel bill and possibly expensive meals or a splurge purchase; and, travelers checks only if I'm traveling for a long time or need them for a hotel that won't accept credit cards.

Do not use a credit card in an ATM unless it's an emergency, as already mentioned it will be charged as a cash advance, which is an expensive way to get funds.
suze is online now  
Old Jun 9th, 2004, 12:01 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,942
As you have heard from all posters above, open a checking account and get an ATM card. Charge everything you can and use ATMs for needed cash. I seldom take more cash in local currency than that amount necessary to get from the airport to our hotel in case there is a long line at the airport ATM. I feel quite certain we haven't bought travelers checks for 20 years.
mamc is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2004, 10:07 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 46
Thank you all. I am much clearer now and am on my way to get an ATM card!
Cinzia is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2004, 10:14 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,113
And just as a final "fail safe" you might get a PIN for your credit card just on the off chance that your ATM doesn't work sometime. The post that said NOT to use a CC for cash is correct--it is a "loan" and incurs interest immediately. But in a total emergency that is preferable to being stranded.
If your ATM doesn't work at some point don't panic. It may be when the banks are reconciling in the US--or any of another myriad things. Go to another ATM and try again.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2004, 10:32 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,244
I definitely have a pin for my credit card, and I use it frequently, especially if I don't want to drain out my checking account. It depends upon your own particular situation.

Yes, you accrue interest the day you take the cash advance, but if it's your intention, like mine, to pay it off when the statement comes in, the interest accrued is minimal.

For example, on a 12% annual rate credit card (which is high in this day & age), you take a $300 cash advance and pay it off in 30 days (when you get your statement), it will only cost you $3.00 or 1% -- That's about the same some on this board say is the transaction fee for use of their credit card. My M/C doesn't have a transaction fee.

I'm not advocating that credit cards are the best way to get cash, but it is an inexpensive option should you desire to chose it and pay off the balance right away.
Budman is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2004, 09:42 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 116
Hi all, I know this topic as been talked to death, but as usual, i just need some confirmation that what I'm understanding is correct (I know, I'm an idiot) So... do not bring TC b/c they charge you a lot more to exchange them...but aren't traveler's cheques accepted as cash? Therefore no need to exchage at banks? Also, can't you get TC's in Euros instead of $$? So then you would not need to cash them?? The reason why I'm asking is b/c my bank (Fleet/BOA) will charge me $5 every time I take cash out of an ATM machine that isn't theirs. I will def. be using my CC also, but I know that a lot of places don't accept them (like rinky-dink hotels) so I will need cash.... Can anyone explain this to me? Thanks for putting up w/the annoying questions!
aduren is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2004, 10:08 AM
  #13  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,902
Aduren: No, TC's are not always accepted as cash. TC's in US$ are worthless except when you exchange them at a bank or exchange counter, and then they charge huge fees. TC's in euros aren't much better. I was in Spain in January and a few people in my group had bought TC's in euros. They said it was a complete waste because they had such a hard time cashing them that they ended up doing it at banks and paying fees. Stick to the advice about ATM's. I still bring a few hundred in US$ TC's as a back-up in case something weird happens w/my ATM card, but I am beginning to wonder why because I never use them.
P_M is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2004, 10:12 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 5,869
ira, Budman, I and several others have "slaughtered this horse" scores of times in the previous 3 or so weeks.
Please, please, please read those!
What is it about ATM for cash and low/no cost CCs for other expenses that you "don't get" or "simply refuse to accept"?
We're trying to save you some USDs in today's mostly expensive travel world for we paying with USDs.
M
Also, be sure to check your CC receipts overseas - pay only in stated local currency: not USDs - the "foreign" bank may attempt to convert your bill to USDs (read the small print @ the bottom of the statement you sign) and you'll get screwed on the exchange rates if you sign same.
mikemo is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2004, 10:18 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 116
sorry! let me clarify - I read that TCs are of the past and ATMs are of today. But if I"m getting charged $5 every time I go withdraw money from an ATM by my own bank, I'm either going to have to withdraw a LOT of money and carry about hundreds of euros and hope I don't get robbed, or take the Traveler's cheques to the bank and exchange them for what might be about the same cost - factoring in that if I lose them it's not as big of a deal. As far as the other questions, I was trying to understand why there would be a need to exchange the TC's when they are already in Euros...
aduren is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2004, 10:21 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 116
Ooops, I missed PM's reply! Exactly what I was looking for, just some confirmation.. Thank you!!
aduren is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2004, 10:25 AM
  #17  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,902
I'm happy to help, aduren. May I offer another word of advice? $5 per w/d seems excessive. When I use another bank's ATM, my bank gives me 2 free w/d's per month, then charges me $2 per w/d after that. You might want to shop around for better deal. If you don't want to move all of your accounts, maybe open an account for use while travelling.
P_M is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2004, 10:39 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,244
aduren, if you are being charged $5 for every ATM transation, get another bank. You are getting screwed!!!

Here in the States, my bank doesn't charge me anything to use the ATM at another bank. I only have to pay the $1 or so to the ATM's bank that I use.

There are banks where you pay nothing.
Budman is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2004, 10:39 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 5,869
USAA Fed'l Savings Bank has 10 free (actually rebated) ATM W/Ds a month.
Bank One charges $1.25 per.
It's alway best to get the max cash you'll need in a single transaction.
M
mikemo is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2004, 10:57 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 116
I just found out that my other bank only charges $1.50 for transactions. I think Bank of AMerica charges $5 b/c there are *supposed* to be tons of BOA atm machines in Europe (anyone run across any?)
aduren is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO