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-   -   Traveler's Checks ? (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/traveler-s-checks-417741/)

3celeron5 Apr 1st, 2004 06:45 AM

Traveler's Checks ?
 
Since the Check Card and Credit Card are so convenient, is it necessary to carry Traveler's Checks ?

Patrick Apr 1st, 2004 06:47 AM

NO.

debby_fish Apr 1st, 2004 06:52 AM

Last year I took 1000 E in travellers checks to France and brought them all home. Don't waste your time or $$.

Singletail Apr 1st, 2004 06:55 AM

I heartily second the above responses. Use an ATM card to get local cash, TC's are more trouble then they are worth, the exchange rate can be poor, etc., etc., and they are not necessarily "instantly replaceable" as companies like AMEX would have you believe, especially if the issuer decides that you were "negligent" in not safeguarding them properly.

Giovanna Apr 1st, 2004 06:57 AM

Most travelers don't use them any longer. ATMs are the way to go now. Some suggest a small amount of TCs for emergencies, but we don't even do that anymore.

elaine Apr 1st, 2004 06:58 AM

I used to carry emergency TCs, haven't bothered lately.
Just take two different cards with you and carry them separately or leave one in the hotel safe.

One debit/atm card for cash, one credit card for purchases. Use the credit card as much as you can, except to get cash.

janis Apr 1st, 2004 07:05 AM

I agree w/ everything said above. BUT it does depend a bit on where you are going. I usually take about $200 in either US currency or TCs for emergencies. In the last ten years (over 20 trips) I've needed them exactly twice. Both times I was in remote or very rural areas with limited ATMs. Once on an island that has only one ATM which is actually on a van that drives from village to village. Well - the ATM was down when the van got to my village. Just walked next door to the general store/PO and cashed my TCs w/o any problems.

But unless you are going way off the beaten path, there really isn't a reason to carry TCs any more.

P_M Apr 1st, 2004 07:05 AM

I still take a few hundred US$ of TC's, just in case something wierd happens where I can't use my ATM card. However, in the last 8 years or so, I have only had to use my emergency TC's once.


ed Apr 1st, 2004 07:10 AM

I agree completly but it is a good idea to have a back-up ATM. I had my primary "eaten" in Venice and was glad to have scondary.

I had trouble getting an ATM in Buenos Aires to accept my primary, but that could have been me. :-B

cls2paris Apr 1st, 2004 07:11 AM

I also take a couple hundred in TC just for the peace of mind in case of the unexpected problem. In the last 3 trips, I have carried them home and sent the money to the credit card company. I get them free from my credit union, so the peace of mind doesn't cost me anything. I'll probably do the same thing when I travel this summer.

martytravels Apr 1st, 2004 07:50 AM

Traveler's checks are a waste of time and a ripoff. I walked into ABN AMRO in Amsterdam with 100 euro in checks and walked out with 88 euro in cash. Avoid them like a McDonald's on the Piazza Navona!

sfowler Apr 1st, 2004 08:10 AM

Yup. TCs are almost a thing of the past.
My recent experience has been that any place they have ATMs you don't need them and any place theydon't have ATMs they won't know what to do with them. So I travel with 2 ATM cards & 2 credit cards &, depending on where I'm headed for, a small amount of local currency or lots of US cash.

suze Apr 1st, 2004 12:33 PM

Whatever makes you most comfortable. If you do take Travelers Checks, I'd consider them for back-up only, leave them in your suitcase & definitely plan to cash them at a regular bank (not try to spend them directly in a shop or restaurant).

Sometimes I take them, sometimes not. Depends on how long I'll be gone and where I'm staying. I always take an ATM card, a wad of cash, with a credit card for hotel bills and unforeseen large expenses.

Carolanne Apr 1st, 2004 12:51 PM

We took travelers' checks last year to Italy, because of having to pay for an apartment in Rome in cash - not. It took us 4 (count 'em - four) banks before we found one (the fifth) that would even take them and then would only cash $200, with a credit card as security! This was not off the beaten path - all the banks were between Via Flavia and the Via Veneto! They all said "so sorry, we don't take them anymore because of counterfeits." If you want an emergency fund take greenbacks.

platzman Apr 1st, 2004 03:28 PM

Instead of carrying large amounts of USD or TCs for "emergencies", I just never allow myself to be depleted of foreign currency before heading for the ATM. I usually stay about 100 euro ahead, and then spend my "emergency" stash the last couple of days of the trip or on the last night's hotel bill, leaving just enough for the shuttle bus to the airport. On the last trip, I brought exactly $125 in case of airport ATM glitches.

rj007 Apr 11th, 2004 08:39 PM

I might be the last person on this board who still uses TC's. They do not cost anything at AAA and I paid no commission to exchange them in Iceland 2 weeks ago. Nor did I pay any commission in London, Dublin and other locations in Europe.
I did have to pay a commission in a small town in Minnesota last week while I was visiting relatives.

If your wallet or purse containing your CC's and ATM Card is stolen then what?




xyz123 Apr 12th, 2004 02:33 AM

It is highly unlikely that your wallet cotaining your cc's and atm card when stolen will not also contain TC's.

The reality is that it is far easier to replace a cc (Amex is great about it) than a TC.

Patrick Apr 12th, 2004 05:00 AM

rj007, you say you paid no commission to cash those TC's in foreign countries, but you fail to mention what kind of exchange rate they gave you. I'm assuming it was a pretty lousy rate if they didn't charge any kind of fee. There are also currency exchange booths at airports with signs proudly proclaiming "no fee", but the secret is they give such horrible rates, that they don't need to charge a fee in addition.

And if you are going to say you buy them at AAA in euro or pounds, then I know you got a terrible rate when you bought them. I checked with AAA and found their rate to buy TC's in foreign currency added over 7% -- of course they don't call it a fee, it's just built into their exchange rate.

bob_brown Apr 12th, 2004 08:09 AM

Let us not be so dismissive of traveler's checks. They still can have their value. Yes, I have some that have made the TransAtlantic crossing more than once. And, yes, I carry just a few of them.

First, I find them to be good general currency backup regardless of where I am, US, Canada, Western Europe.

One night I tried to pay my bill at a restaurant in the USA and I was told my credit card was no good. I had an option: leave my dinner group as hostages and go to an ATM machine, let one of my friends pay for it, or use a traveler's check.
I will let you figure out what I did.

My credit card had been blocked because of a cancelled transaction at my initiation, and there was no warning issued. I suppose I could have called the toll free number on the back of my Visa card right away, but even so several hours would have been required for the account to be reinstated.
(I now carry two credit cards.)

On one trip to Paris, I was dining [sic] at the Petite Leo just off of Blvd Montparnasse and Raspail. To pay my bill, I handed the waiter my credit card. He came back making noises like a coffee maker that was finishing its heating cycle all the while waving my credit card with considerable vigor amidst other gestures. We understood easily that the card was not acceptable for some reason, probably the Cirrus versus Plus nonsense again. But what to do? My wife decided to go get some currency at an ATM not far off on Blvd Raspail. When she rose from the table, the waiter just about did blow his heat valve. By this time we were drawing attention from the other 5 customers.
I semi desperation, I pulled out my travelers checks and spread them on the table. That placated our overheated waiter until we could get enough in folding francs at the ATM to pay the bill.

Last year at Lake Louise, Cirrus versus Plus got us again. The only ATM we could find in Lake Louise Village would not work for us. In fact, many ATMs all over that area of Alberta were privately operated and single networked.

On 9/12 I was very glad to have a tangible supply of money with me and on me. Airports were shut down all over the nation, borders were closed, who knew what would happen next? Would banks be shut down? I don't think by 9/14 that many people knew what was next or what might happen. As it turned out, banks stayed in operation, but who knew? I sure did not.

Another time when traveler's checks were useful occurred in the train station at the Zürich airport. I had just arrived and was looking for an ATM. because I wanted to make a few purchases before boarding the train. The ATM was not working. If I wanted Swiss currency, I had one choice: use a traveler's check. (The little food store did not take VISA or MC at the time. And, no, it did not take US dollars.)

Later, I was in a small mountain town, and my ATM card was the wrong breed. It was PLUS and I needed Cirrus. Same situation, if I wanted local currency, I converted a TC.

So yes, I did not use a single TC last year, or the year before. All of them came home with me, twice. On the other hand I pay nothing to acquire them beyond maintaining my account, I can convert them for nothing at the bank where I bought them (normal bank), and they are good indefinitely. As a result, I carry a few just in case.

RufusTFirefly Apr 12th, 2004 01:49 PM

Depending on the brand of TC, there are places that will cash them with no fee and at a reasonable exchange rate. But with ATMs available in most places, we just don't bother with them any longer. When we know we're headed out to the boondocks where ATMs will be unavailable or inconvenient to get to, we just get a little extra cash before heading out.


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