traveler's checks vs: cash

May 22nd, 2006, 01:37 PM
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I agree that traveler's checks are a waste of time. It is hard to use them even in the US now!
ekscrunchy is offline  
May 22nd, 2006, 01:40 PM
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I will chime in against the traveler's check. try any other method- the visa card sounds like a good option.
In this case i wouls also get a good amount of euros and split it up in envelopes (for budget reasons).
highledge is offline  
May 22nd, 2006, 02:41 PM
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If you were successful at supplying your son with an ATM card, advise him to pay special attention to the network symbols on the back of the card (i.e. Plus, Star, Cirrus). The card can only be used at ATMs that display the same symbol. For some reason, I've had a terrible time finding the "right" ATMs in Brussels, but have had no problem in other major European cities. Perhaps some of the frustrated other responders were trying to use their cards in the wrong machines.
JanDelaware is offline  
May 22nd, 2006, 03:41 PM
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I agree with everyone that an ATM or Travel Card is better.

But the question was Travelers Checks OR carrying $1300 in cash. If those are the only two options, for whatever reason, I still vote TC's are OK.
suze is offline  
May 22nd, 2006, 05:12 PM
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The problem I had with Italian ATMs (or at least the 10 I tried to use) is that the card must have the "Interlink" symbol on it. When I called Wells Fargo from Italy, they told me that while I had adequate funds, if I did not have the interlink symbol, many ATMs in Europe would not accept my card. I can't tell you how furious I was, since I did call customer service before I left and they assurred me there would be no problem. They made a note on my account that I would be using my card in Europe, but said nothing to me about the Interlink symbol. When I got back I cancelled my WF account, and opened one with Washington Mutual, where I was handed an ATM card that promenently displays "Interlink." Again, I recommend carrying two ATM cards (one as a backup) and Euros. Please note, my card DID work in France, but never in Italy.

susan001 is offline  
May 22nd, 2006, 10:27 PM
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Having $1300 in travellers cheques is the same as having nothing at all if you need money in a hurry and nobody is available to cash them.

Remember, even if you can find a bank that will cash them, banks keep banker's hours, which means you'll need to plan ahead and stand in line once a day or so at a bank right in the middle of your touring day.
AnthonyGA is offline  
May 23rd, 2006, 07:05 PM
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I was in Milano and Florence just this January. My ATM card worked perfectly, even though I bank with a local bank in my town. Two things, though: Make sure the pin is 4 digits.letters (not always necessary, but I was told it can make a difference) and 2: It is always good to have as many of the little symbols as possible on the card. True, some banks can be arcane, but for the last 15 years we have been using our ATM cards in Italy, france, and England without a problem.

It stinks to check on something and then find it was false, though, so a bit of cash/ on hand, not a bad idea.

If it is an age thing, send him with yours (after stipulating amounts allowed, of course) and Bob's yer uncle.

I am sorry, though that you have had any trouble.

phoebebennet is offline  
May 23rd, 2006, 11:22 PM
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I actually like travellers' cheques and have never had a problem cashing them. I would suggest that your son takes about 300 euros (smallish bills, a mixture of 20s and 50s with a couple of 10s if possible), and the balance in euro travellers' cheques. If he is going to be staying in a city with an American Express office, he would be best taking American Express cheques and changing them there as there would be no fee to change them. Also, as well as banks, most hotels change travellers' cheques as do many exchange bureaux.
Carolina is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 12:52 AM
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In the days before ATMs I used to look for American Express offices where their travellers cheques are cashed without a fee. As a cardholder I could even cash personal checks from my US account at those offices. Now, of course, I just use my debit card.

Sbianchi, suggest you find the addresses of Amex offices in the French cities your son will be visting. To start, these are the offices in Paris:
Heimdall is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 04:22 AM
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<<Many banks consider any overseas activity suspicious unless a customer has apprised them of his travel plans; so they lock the account if any foreign transactions are attempted>>

That should read "many US banks..."

I've never had a problem using debit or credit cards when abroad
alanRow is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 05:01 AM
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This is not an Either-Or situation. I always carry 3 items: credit card, an ATM card, and Travelers Checks.

* For immediate cash I use the ATM card.

* For shopping I use the credit card.

* For emergency backup use I carry Travelers Checks

I have never had a problem cashing Travelers checks. In Europe there are Currency Exchange offices everywhere. Every Currency Exchange office I've ever tried has cashed my Travelers Checks. All I had to do was show my passport. Also, most European cities have at least one AMEX office.

If you also carry an ATM card and credit card, it should not be necessary to cash Traveler's Checks more than once or twice during your trip.
JoyceL is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 05:05 AM
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Also, always get the Travelers Checks in dollars, not Euros. Having the checks in Euros does not make them easier to cash. Keeping the checks in dollars makes it possible to reuse uncashed checks in future trips, regardless of destination, e.g. even trips in the USA.

Also, if you are a AAA member and if you get the checks from AAA, you do not have pay any purchase fee.
JoyceL is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 06:56 AM
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Greece may be a more difficult country for some concerning traveler's checks, and that's the last place we tried to use them. Before we left I got addresses of offices in cities where we'd be from the AmEx website. When we arrived at the one in Athens, the receptionist told us the office was for travel arrangements only and the checks could be cashed at a bank a few blocks away, which was closed for the day. (As her English was very poor, we weren't sure where or what the bank was, so just used an ATM.) On Santorini the company that works as an agent for AmEx was where it was supposed to be. When we finally inquired at a travel agency in Iraklion about the location of the seemingly missing agency for AmEx, the woman just laughed and told us they'd been gone for 2 or 3 years. (She did tell us that she thought Alpha Bank would cash them and they did.) So that was only 1 out of 3 places on the AmEx site that actually existed.

As far as using ATMs for cash and never having a problem, so have we, starting in '93 on a trip to Australia. Then, suddenly and without warning, we had a problem - $50K in cash but no way to get it. I'm glad I had read the warnings from other Fodorites previously and had realized that it COULD happen to me. So we had other options when, 6 months later, it DID happen.
polly229 is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 07:08 AM
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If you feel he won't do anything unreasonable, give him an ATM card linked to your checking or savings account. That way he can get cash from your account and pay you back later. Tell your bank that you will be using your card in France, and ask them to set a limit of $XXX/day.

You can check his withdrawals as often as you wish by logging in online.
Jed is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 08:16 AM
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AAA charges a markup that verges on the obscene. No, they don't charge any "fees" - they build about 9% into the conversion rate. Keep shopping.
Robespierre is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 09:48 AM
Original Poster
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Thank you all for your time and information...being that he is leaving on Sunday, there is no time for another atm card for my account. So I will gratefully use the Amex addresses in Paris for him to cash the $200. worth that we have already purchased, and will look into trying to locate the
visa card to prepay on.
I appreciate you guys.
sbianchi is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 10:27 AM
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Sydney...the trouble with his atm card could be that he only has a savings account not a checking. I just found out my children cannot use their atm card on their accounts either as they have only savings accounts.

Good luck
nadoosh is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 07:03 PM
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Headline from The Times:

Continent Isolated!
Robespierre is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 07:09 PM
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LOL , Robespierre
kenderina is offline  
May 27th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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I would get Travelers Checks but be sure they are signed like his name on his passport. My bank left out my middle name which I hardly use and since the middle name was not on the checks and on the passport. I had a hard time cashing them in Mexico.

peggywho is offline  

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