Euro American Express Checks

Sep 14th, 2007, 09:17 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 11
Euro American Express Checks

American Express offers Euro traveler check packs $1000 for $15.00 or a 1.5% charge. Does anyone know if the Euro travelers checks are widely accepted by merchants or will we have to go to the bank to convert into actual Euro bills? I know I can use my ATM but my bank charges 3% plus a $5.00 use fee so that comes out to 5-6% depending on what the max of the ATM machine is. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks!
janrantoo2 is offline  
Sep 14th, 2007, 09:33 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,135
You'll find it practically impossible to find any merchants, anywhere in Europe, who'll take these quaint refugees from the museum of antique financial instruments.

You won't find it much easier finding any banks who'll take them either. And of those few, most will charge you a fee for the trouble you're putting them to.

There's a possible argument for taking some TCs in your own currency. They're utterly useless, but they might give you peace of mind, and in your own currency you can put them - untouched - back into your account when you get home.

flanneruk is offline  
Sep 14th, 2007, 09:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
In addition to the 1.5% fee, I strongly suggest that you check the exchange rate you will be getting. When I have bought foreign currency checks that were American Express, I have routinely paid 5% above the wholesale bank rate of exchange.

I was in effect paying 6.5% for those checks. The last time I did it was years ago when I had to secure a reservation with a place that did not accept credit cards and wanted money up front. I debated about how to do it, and finally went with the checks knowing full well I was getting clipped.

I wanted the reservation and was willing to pay the price.

Otherwise, it is just as foolish money wise to buy euro denominated checks as it is any other type. As Flanneruk says, they are not usually accepted. If you want to use them, you have to take them to American Express, which are not everywhere, or you take them to a bank and probably pay an additional fee.

At my age, I was initially still tied to the idea that one went to Europe with traveler's checks. I got over notion very quickly in 1998 when I made my first visit to Europe in 20 years.

I actually have some of those checks from 1998. Of the original 10, I still have 4. Of the 6 I have used, 2 were cashed in Switzerland under semi emergency conditions. The others were cashed where I bought them to get spending money.

I did use the checks once without cashing any of them. They helped me avoid what was potentially an explosive situation. When I tried to pay my restaurant bill, my primary credit card failed for some unknown reason.

The waiter came back gesticulating wildly and making noises like a steaming tea kettle. When my wife rose from the table to go to the ATM just down the street, I thought he was going to have an apoplectic attack. I was not sure why because I was still seated while I fumbled in my passport case for my backup credit card. I could not immediately find it and the waiter was rapidly reaching the boiling point. In semi desperation, I threw my cache of AE checks on the table. That distracted the waiter long enough for me to find my other card. Thank heavens, the backup card worked.

Why my primary card failed will be forever unknown. It worked both before and after that incident without any problems. So if you want to carry TCs, you find that non-use is their cheapest application. Of course that same waiter may not still be working at La Petite Lapin, or whatever the little rabbit is properly called in French.
bob_brown is offline  
Sep 14th, 2007, 10:08 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,407
I would not recommend them in Euros, and generally they're obsolete as has been posted.

That said, two years ago, we took American Express checks in DOLLARS because we had to pay cash for our entire stay and we couldn't get to an ATM enough times to meet our needs.

The exchange rate for TC was fairer at the Vatican Museum than elsewhere we saw in Rome. However, one day when it was closed we had to go elsewhere and I will say exchange rates really DO VARY on them.

Our Credit Union does not charge to issue them so for us, I would take them again as a peace of mind. Hopefully I won't need to use them again overseas.

5alive is offline  
Sep 14th, 2007, 10:11 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,226
Amex is soooo trying to help you -- NOT! The gall to charge anything on top of their crummy exchange rate for the TCs themselves.

Are yiu sure your bank charges 3%. That is common for credit cards, but few banks charge that for ATM withdrawals.

But even IF they charge 3%, that is less expensive than buying TCs. Plus you can actually use the cash you withdraw from an ATM -- which is often not so w/ TCs.
janisj is online now  
Sep 14th, 2007, 11:00 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 9,825
If your bank is charging you 3% + $5 then you are using the wrong bank.

My credit union ATM card (with Visa logo) charges 1% international fee and $0 ATM use fee.
J62 is online now  
Sep 15th, 2007, 01:49 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,491
i know a student who has gone to 5 banks with AAA/Visa travellerīs checks to no avail (in dollars). he cannot get them cashed yet.

his family is callng around to see who will cash them and how much they will CHARGE him to do so.

it is a shame they seem to give so many problems as as a back up, and if they donīt cost you anything.. shouldnīt seem like such a bad idea for part of your expenses if other systems fail.

lincasanova is offline  
Sep 15th, 2007, 05:39 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 894
The last time I used TC's was the year after the Euro took affect. I purchased Euros travelers chq's thinking that they would be just like cash. I had a terrible time using them. The hotel in Lyon would not take them...the bank in Arles wouldn't cash them so we had to pay a hefty fee at an Exchange booth (not sure many of the exchange booths even exist anymore). It was the same story through the whole trip.

The hassle was worse than the hit we took on the service fees to exchange them. You don't want to waste precious vacation time trying to get these things cashed.

We were told by a merchant that they have to pay their bank a hefty service fee to cash them therefore they don't except them.
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Sep 15th, 2007, 09:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,116
Hi J,

Nix on the TC's. You only want them as emergency funds in USD, so that you can deposit them when you get home.

>I can use my ATM but my bank charges 3% plus a $5.00 use fee...

Are you sure that your bank charges a conversion fee for ATM? The $5 ATM fee is bad enough.

ira is offline  
Sep 15th, 2007, 09:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 90,948
If you do decide on TC's for whatever reason, I would take the in USD and plan to go to a bank to cash them into euro. That way if you don't spend them you can save for another trip, or redeposit once you're home.

suze is offline  

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