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Need advice on purchasing traveler's checks vs. getting money from ATM's while in London.

Need advice on purchasing traveler's checks vs. getting money from ATM's while in London.

Sep 9th, 2003, 06:10 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 328

As per the other postings - travelers cheques are useless (less than useless as its 'dead' money as you have to pay for them in advance). Last ones I got were for Bali in '01 & they were useless, use your ATM card (I was even able to use in romote parts of Kenya).

If you want a backup get your credit card activated to get to get cash from an ATM & 'prepay' it with what you were going to get in travelers cheques, that way if you need to do a cash advance on it due to problems with your ATM card your not paying interest (as the cash is there) & if you don't need it then some of your credit card purchases will be covered when you get the bill (FYI - my bank indicated not to get the credit card bill 'linked' to you bank accounts associated with your ATM card, as if you report your ATM card lost/stolen the accounts may be 'blocked' for all ATM transactions, so the 'spare' ATM card option may not work either).

TravelMaster is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 06:12 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,579
erinb is, as usual, spot on.

A couple of other suggestions:

Have both a Visa and Mastercard in case one of the systems is down

Have a list of the credit card numbers and the 24/7 telephones - this is the number on the back of the card, not the bank.

Keep a $100 or so in $10 bills for emergencies.

jsmith is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 07:01 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Many thanks to all who have posted. I've been going crazy with my Internet down and wondering what advice I was getting!! So glad I could finally get on today!! Thanks again...

Tia is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 07:57 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 174
After reading all the great advice from everyone who took time to post for me, we've decided to use our ATM and charge cards. We will get some money at Heathrow before we get on the Tube and just wing it from there. We already purchased US American Express checks, so will take those along as backup. I really appreciate everyone who took time to give me advice!! I am getting so excited about this trip! Only 17 more days and I can hardly wait! Thanks again.

Tia is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 09:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
You do understand the tube takes MC/Visa for fares and there are ATM's at almost every station too.
xyz123 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 09:39 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 115
Having just got back from 6 weeks in England, I second what everyone's said so far about using ATM's (or cashpoints, as they're called there!). It was super easy, there are tons of cashpoints to choose from, and banks there generally don't charge for the use of them.

However, my bank also told me there would be no fee for the use of ATMs. I checked my account online a couple of weeks into my stay only to find that they charged $1.50-2.00 per ATM transaction. So much for relying on my bank's word.

You might want to make sure you can check your account online while you're there. Even if you pop into an internet cafe once or twice, it's great to know exactly what kind of fees you're incurring and how much you have left (you might be better at balancing your checkbook than I am, though...).

You also want to check with your bank about any security procedures they may use. My bank will occassionally deactivate your bank card if it's used outside the region where you live (i.e. in a foreign country). Supposedly this is to prevent a thief from going to Majorca on your card. They never actually did this to me, but I was able to take a phone number with me just in case they cut me off from my money unexpectedly.

ATMs are by far the best and easiest way to go in Europe, but I would take along some emergency cash (and cash for the first day's cab fare, etc.)...just in case.

Have a ton of fun!
Linds is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 09:55 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 886
Hi Linds
Yes, ATM's are known as cashpoints by everyone here in the UK. The name CashPoint was copyrighted by the Lloyds TSB Bank, but everyone calls it that for all the machines.
Beware everyone with regard ATM's. As Linds has found out, some ATM's DO charge. If you use a bank ATM then they will not charge any additional to that of your card issuer. You will be told this by the screen. However, many ATM's are cropping up in shops and small supermarkets (such as SPAR). These do charge at a rate of £1 - £2 per transaction.
So use the "hole in the wall" ATM's and avoid the machines in shops.
Also, if you use Diners Card - look for the "Link" logo.
AR is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 11:29 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 174
I had no idea that the Tube would allow you to use your credit card for a fare. That's cool! One less thing to worry about having cash for. I'm so glad I posted!!!

Tia is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 11:47 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 303
My experience from a recent trip to northern Europe is that ATM transactions were recorded in my bank account almost immediately. It most certainly did not take up to 10-14 days as Christina suggested.

I do suggest taking a second ATM card for a different account if possible, as insurance if there is a problem with the first one.

As Linds suggested, it is very easy to find an internet café in London (such as easyInternet), so can check your account online to check your balance and see what kind of fees you are being charged.
luv2cthings is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 11:56 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 235
I agree that ATMs are usually the most economically and prudent way to go.

That said...I went to England last year and everything was going swimmingly until my 3rd ATM tranaction. Then my card no longer worked (my card wasn't eaten - it just refused to dispense any cash)! Thankfully, I was travelling with my family and my father was able to use his ATM and I was saved.

1) Always tell your credit cards & ATM bank that you are going on vacation and the dates of said vacation. When you phone them before, ask for the tollfree number to phone if you encounter any difficulties.

2) Have a backup. Both a copy of your ATM and a credit card you can get Cash advances on.

3) Even if you don't use them, at least have a couple of hundred dollars in TCs (go to AAA - you can get them for free).

one2travel is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 01:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 886
Did you use a bank ATM or a machine in a store, one2travel?
The reason I ask is that most of these new machines that have appeared in stores will not dispence for cards carrying the Visa logo. This is a pain in the UK as 95% of cards are visa. The machine goes through the routine of trying to give money but then just produces a slip of paper saying that they were unable to make a connection or something.
I noticed a machine at a motorway service station on the M6 near Coventry last Sunday that said "No Visa", so at least they warned me.
AR is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 03:30 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 94
AR, We are leaving for London next week. Both of our ATM cash cards are Visa. Am I hearing you correctly that we will have trouble getting cash?
Pammyjo is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 03:43 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
No, Pammyjo, don't worry - check AR's answer. Regular bank ATMs work fine with or w/o the logo. It is the stand alone "consession" type machines in some departments stores and motorway service stations that sometimes don't accept the cards.

You should always use a regular bank's machine anyway - the others can sometimes tack on a fee which bank ATMs don't.

janis is offline  
Sep 18th, 2003, 08:21 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2
Hi all,
Wow lots of great info here. I agree the way to go is to use an ATM card. But after having one stop working when in Australia,( I have asked my bank for an extra one, but they will not issue more than one) I like to bring AM EX traveler checks. Luckly I had some in OZ so I just went to the AM EX office, they were in US dollars which was no problem, not only did I get a great exchange rate, but I paid little or no fee. It has to be my worst nightmare to have no access to money, even with the credit card which works even for an ice cone in some places, its just not the same. Especialy when I hit the flea markets.
sunshine313 is offline  
Sep 19th, 2003, 08:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
"make sure your card has a 4 digit pin
make sure it does not start with zero"

It is a myth that PIN's beginning with a zero are a problem.

Also, if you have a Debit/ATM card, most banks will issue an ATM only card as well, in which case you will have two ATM cards for the same account.

Often, when your transaction is rejected, the reason, if one is given, is not correct.

Find out before leaving home when you bank does its "overnight processing". If your bank's computer is unavailable between 3-5AM Eastern Time in the USA, that's 8-10AM in London. If you try to make an ATM withdrawal, the transaction cannot be "approved by your bank" at that time. Just try again later.
djkbooks is offline  

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