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Does anyone still use travelers checks?

Old Jun 5th, 2017, 03:31 PM
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Does anyone still use travelers checks?

Have been reading a lot about ATM skimming, thieves grabbing CC info when using an ATM machine. I have a big trip coming up to Spitsbergen and northern Norway next month, and am wondering the best way to carry money. Some cash, CC, and was originally just going to rely on ATM machines for refreshing my cash supply, but am reconsidering. Any thoughts or suggestions. Good old travelers checks is one answer.
Also, where is the best place to change dollars to NOK, airport, bank? Any real difference in exchange rates?
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Old Jun 5th, 2017, 03:37 PM
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Travelers checks (if you can even find them) are almost totally useless in Europe. Merchants don't want them end many banks won't cash them.

>>Also, where is the best place to change dollars to NOK,
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Old Jun 5th, 2017, 03:39 PM
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I'm not sure you can even buy traveler checks anymore. I suspect they'd be fairly hard to cash even if they're still sold.

How about a checking account just for travel with an ATM card? I have a Capitol One 360 account that I put cash in to withdraw from ATMs when I travel, no foreign transaction fee. If I need more I can just transfer more in. But mostly I use credit cards, many of which charge no foreign transaction fees (Capitol One, some Citibank & others).

I wouldn't bother changing cash on arrival.
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Old Jun 5th, 2017, 03:45 PM
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I assume you mean debit card rather than credit card for obtaining cash? Otherwise you'll have to pay interest on cash withdrawals. I'm not aware of any of my friends or family using travellers cheques for many years.

When using an ATM, I try wherever possible to use an ATM in a secured area (e.g. a bank) and at a time when if the machine swallows my card I could go to the bank and retrieve it e.g. not late at night when I'm leaving at dawn the next day (this has never happened to me though). Probably being over cautious but... I generally try to minimise the number of withdrawals by taking out larger sums, especially back in the day when my bank charged a fixed ATM withdrawal service fee (I've changed banks now).

When making purchases with your card, it's cheaper to opt to pay in the local currency rather than the currency of your home country.
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Old Jun 5th, 2017, 03:46 PM
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As Janis suggests, I have a savings account (not even a checking account) just for travel - with an ATM card that I use only in Europe. I also travel with my normal debit card in case of emergencies - only needed it on one trip, when I forgot to transfer enough funds into the travel account!

I worry about ATM skimming everywhere, even at home. I look a little more carefully at ATMs than I used to, even tapping on the mechanism around the card slot to see if it feels real. But I still use them. And I try to conceal my PIN; remember, without the PIN, skimming an ATM card doesn't allow access to your account.

I also use credit cards when I travel - and because I have multiple credit cards, I'm not so worried about one being compromised. I worry much less about a credit card scam because I know my credit card company is responsible for any charges in that case, whereas with an ATM card the money comes right out of my account and it is harder to get your money back in case of a theft...
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Old Jun 5th, 2017, 03:56 PM
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Oh - meant to add (but dreamon beat me to it) -- I assumed you meant using an ATM/debit card to get cash. NOT a credit card . . .
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Old Jun 5th, 2017, 07:11 PM
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ATMs are the way to go. I don't think many places will take traveler's checks anymore. There is no need to bring dollars to exchange - just use your debit card. I think you'll get a better rate with using your credit card rather than paying to exchange dollars.

I recommend using ATMs attached to a physical bank and only using them during business hours just in case you have any troubles with your card. My card got "eaten" once in Italy and we had to go back the next day to retrieve it. Fortunately, all was well.
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Old Jun 5th, 2017, 08:10 PM
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>>> Have been reading a lot about ATM skimming, thieves grabbing CC info when using an ATM machine.

You can avoid this by using a machine difficult to tamper such as machines at the airport where there are video surveillance everywhere.

>>> Good old travelers checks is one answer.

As mentioned by others, this is a NO answer. Hardly no one takes them anymore.

>>> Also, where is the best place to change dollars to NOK, airport, bank? Any real difference in exchange rates?

Cash to cash exchange is expensive over all. They hits you hard with bad rate, high fee or both. There is no way around this.

I was in Norway last year. Except for street vendor selling cheap items, I did not encounter any place that did not take credit cards. Even at casual restaurants, I was probably the only one using cash. Everyone else was using a card. The server was even surprised that I would even consider paying in cash. He automatically brought a handheld credit card machine without being asked.
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Old Jun 5th, 2017, 10:27 PM
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I was in Sweden last month for a few days and did not use cash at all. CC for everything; taxi's, coffee, bars. Some places did not accept cash. Even 10 Krona for using the loo at a department store; card was fine.

If you are happier having some cash, get some at an ATM.
Scams are really very rare.
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Old Jun 5th, 2017, 11:33 PM
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Skimming is far more common in the US than in Europe nowadays. Criminals here find it easier to just blow up the ATM now as security on the card and in the machine is tighter.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 12:56 AM
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We tried using travelers checks in Prague in 2009, and no one would accept them. They didn't know what they were, including the banks. I remember it took us a long time to find a bank to cash our travelers checks, and it was a long involved process. That was the last time we ever used travelers checks.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 01:21 AM
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I'm not sure how many countries in Europe still use cheques of any sort tbh.
Travellers cheques are something consigned to history, along with floppy disks and cassettes.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 01:28 AM
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The popular image of Norway is that it's rolling in money anyway, so the chances of anyone making elaborate arrangements to fiddle ATMs there, and particularly in what sounds like relatively sparsely-populated areas that you plan to travel in, seem pretty low by comparison with the rest of Europe. And over 20-odd years I've used my bank cards to get cash at ATMs in the best part of a dozen countries in Europe and two or three in Asia, and never had any of these problems.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 02:35 AM
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We don't use cheques at all in Belgium and the Netherlands.
It's mostly debit or credit cards.

Banks here warn about scams and fraud when using credit cards in the US - since they do not always use pincodes.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 07:03 AM
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Skimming is an Eastern and Central European hobby, at most. Norwegians do NOT have a reputation for these sorts of scams.

You're going to be pretty far away from that nonsense. You're also going to be in an area with so few people, they probably all know each other. And if it's hard to use travelers checks in major cities (which it is), it will be much harder to use them in places where the seals outnumber the humans, major banks are scarce to nonexistent and major stores are equivalent to Wandering Oaken's Trading Post.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 08:09 AM
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This may be beside the point, but it seems to me that people worry more about theft while traveling than they do at home, even if they live in a crime-ridden neighborhood, because at home one has one's routines that work. If one card gets compromised, you have another, or can go to your bank, or borrow a $20 from a friend, etc. Traveling, your options are more limited, if only by lack of familiarity, and so worries abound.

So telling people their home town may be more dangerous is beside the point.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 08:31 AM
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I finally cashed in my last ones at my bank last year. I had bought some as a backup several years ago, probably 5 at least. So I carried them with me on various trips just in case. I never need them. In fact, I think I did cash one at the airport in Basel but I forget why I did that, maybe just to get rid of one and the rate wasn't that bad.

They used to be easier to cash in Mexico than Europe, as I recall (at least within the past 5-10 years, before that Europe was fairly easy, at least in any big city).

It is true they are good forever, but just my luck AMEX would go out of business while I still had some, and it was basically giving a free loan to AMEX.

Now, I just carry US cash as my "backup", in cash my cards don't work or whatever, as anyplace you can exchange a TC, you could certainly exchange US cash, and probalby for a better rate. I have stopped carrying as much extra "just in case" money (like up to $1000 in TCs) as I've traveled so much now I know it isn't really possible for all of my cards to get lost or whatever, and if they did, I could call them on the international number. I am careful with my stuff also, and never carry only one credit or debit card (in fact, I have at least 3 credit cards and 2 debit cards). SO I always leave at least one CC and ebit card in my hotel room safe or somewhere not on my person, in case someone robbed me of everything I had on, which of course, isn't likely either.

I suggest if you are using credit cards at an ATM machine to being with, which you start out with commenting on, you don't understand the issues. You shouldn't ever use credit cards at an ATM machine except in case of emergency as the fees and interest are too high.

I think you should consider what I do, maybe a couple hundred in US cash and make sure you have more than one CC and one debit card (especially more than one CC).
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 08:35 AM
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Good advice. I should have added that IMO what is helpful is explaining good backup measures, so that a traveler knows what to do in case of theft or loss and isn't so worried.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 09:34 AM
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NewbE, I agree, it's worse when something happens when you're abroad and I understand the anxiety. This is true for us when we visit the USA.

I think Soboyle gets the message about travelers cheques!
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 09:44 AM
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Travelers checks are not practical for every day use (I have used them recently to pay for a B&B by request of the owner where that was arranged in advance).

Using Bank (not freestanding) ATM machines is nothing to be afraid of. You need to find out from your home bank what charges they impose on foreign transactions.

Backup is to have USD in my pocket that I could change in an emergency. Along with a couple credit cards.
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