TC Dilemma

Old Mar 15th, 2004, 06:21 AM
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TC Dilemma

I've been searching through previous posts reading about travelers checks in Europe, but I still haven't found a direct answer to a question I have.

It seems that the general concensus is to take a few hundred TC's for emergency backup and otherwise use an ATM. I'm planning on making my fifth trip to Europe and the only thing I have EVER used is TC's. I've been exchanging them at the local post office wherever I stay and I believe I've never been charged a fee/commission, plus I get the current market exchange rate. Am I wrong in this? So my question is do I stick with the TC plan because it's always worked or do I switch to the ATM w/TC backup plan? Also, how do I know what the ATM in Europe will charge my account? What is the norm? I will only be in France on this trip. Thanks in advance for your help.
Old Mar 15th, 2004, 06:41 AM
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We used to use travelers' checks exclusively, but haven't for some time now (other than perhaps a few tucked away for emergencies). We have switched instead to ATMs making withdrawals from our checking account, which seems to be the least expensive and most efficient method. However, if tcs work for you and you are comfortable with it why change?

It is my experience than unlike American banks, the ATMs in Europe do not charge for use. Rather refreshing not be nicked for everything our banks can think of. You will be charged I believe 2% by Visa/Mastercard and whatever charge your card tacks on. We use Capital One and MBNA, neither of whom add additional charges.
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 06:44 AM
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I think the general consensus here is NOT to use traveler's checks. As far as I'm concerned they're obsolete. I don't want to pay a commission (when I did use them, I always had to), or wait in line at a bank, or have them rejected by shopkeepers and restaurateurs.

I land in Europe with about $100 worth of euros in my pocket, use ATMs to get cash, and pay hotel and other largish bills with my Amex.

No ATM in Europe has ever charged me a penny for withdrawing money.
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 07:49 AM
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Hi BR,

ATMs in Europe do not charge a fee, and give you the current bank exchange rate.

If you cash dollar-denominated TC's in Europe you might not be charged a commission, but you will be charged a fewpoints above the bank rate.

If you cash euro denominated TC's in Europe, you will have already paid a surcharge of some sort to get the TCs.
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 11:47 AM
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YOu don't say where you are going in Europe, which probably makes a big difference. I use TCs for backup and cash them now and again, and I never pay much, if any, more than using an ATM. The only time I have paid more was when I had no choice, at an airport, because no ATM was working.

I have never cashed them in a Post Office, so I really don't know what kind of rate they give in them. Whenever I've had to use a PO (in France), the lines were really long for other things, and I know the window for the money services was also, so that does not appeal to me.

No one knows if you are right or wrong about what you were getting at a PO, but you should know yourself because all you would have had to do was compare what you got vs what you gave them and know the current exchange rate. Even if you didn't, you could have checked after getting home on or something, to find out (assuming you kept receipts or notes). I have never exchanged TCs in my life without knowing what it was costing me.

It's hard for me to believe a post office would give you bank exchange rate with no fee for doing you a service, but I really don't know for sure. The term you use ("market" exchange rate) could mean there is a markup over bank rate, if that is the tourist/consumer market rate rather than the bank/major investment rate.

If you are buying TCs in euros at home, as Ira said, you already paid a lot for them and maybe that's what you are doing. I don't ever buy them in euro as it's too expensive.
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 05:56 PM
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Check with your bank about withdrawal charges from ATMs. It's your bank that will charge. My bank (Wells Fargo) in 2001 charged $2.00 each time I made a withdrawal regardless of the amount. Total cost was $10 for a month; however, had I even learned there would be a charge I would have taken out larger amounts of money, but, obviously no big deal.
I keep dragging traveler's checks on trips and dragging them home to redeposit (no cost as I get them from the Auto Club free with their credit card, or not). I guess I still feel comfortable taking the TCs just in case.....
By the way, I found, at least in London, that if I cashed a traveler's check at Amex (I had Amex TCs) there was no extra charge and the rate was very good. And, my credit card charges were so close to my ATM withdrawals that it was negligible. Hope this helps.
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 07:46 PM
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I am getting ready for my 9th trip to Europe and I have always used TC's. I get them free from the Auto Club, and I change them commission free. Being charged for an ATM card is a rip off. Maybe I have timed it just right, but have never stood in a line to cash them.
Banks in Europe seem to me a lot less busy than mine here at home.

If somebody steals your wallet which has your ATM and credit cards in it and you have no TC's then what are you going to do?
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 05:42 AM
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I had a card chewed up in a gas station one time (italy) since then I take tc's and go to the bank when i need some cash...many shops and businesses won't take tc's....then i use plastic
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