Travelers Checks

Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 08:46 AM
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Travelers Checks

Do people still use Amercan Express Travelers Checks? Do they make sense? Can you cash them at hotels? Seems like if I take money out at an ATM on my debit card they charge so much since my bank doesn't work in Europe. We will be in London and Paris so I thought having travelers checks would be a good idea?? Does anyone have thoughts?
Thank you
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 08:52 AM
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Not a good idea.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 08:55 AM
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Nobody uses travelers cheques. Certainly not in London and Paris. They are expensive and not that easy to use.
Use a credit card for purchases and restaurants, and an ATM card for cash. Even if your bank at home doesn't have a branch in Europe, you can use your card. If your bank charges a high fee for using an ATM in Europe, get another banker!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 08:56 AM
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Many banks in France simply do not do foreign exchange anymore - after the Euro came in and those that do - like in train stations do not pay decent rates and may even charge you extra to cash a TC

In the U.K. i've seen obscene charges at banks to cash TC - several bucks - use the ATMs for spending money and use credit cards anywhere and you'll be better off

i have never heard of a bank ATM card that did not work in Europe - usually is a 3% fee for up to say $250 daily max plus a $5 foreign transaction fee - Credit Cards generally charge a flat 3% so are better to use - some cards may charge less or nothing

Traveler Checks are you grandfather's way of paying for things in Europe.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 09:00 AM
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They're a complete pain in the butt generally. How much does your bank charge for ATM usage? The most I've seen is a couple dollars per transaction and a % charge. If that's the case, take out slightly larger amounts and use the ATM less frequently.

I've never seen a case in London or Paris where a traveler's check was a better deal than getting cash from the ATM or using a credit card. I use my credit card for anything I reasonably can and then use cash for small stuff only.

Depending on how much time you have before your trip, it might be easy to open a new checking account that has good ATM policies for using European ATMs. Transfer your trip money to that new account and just use that for your trip. When you get back you can drop it to the bare minimum and let it wait for your next trip.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 09:11 AM
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Traveler's checks are a thing of the past. They are very hard to cash and if you do find a place to cash them you will pay ridiculous fees and get a crummy exchange rate.

Call your bank and ask about fees for overseas withdrawls. If the fees are too high then check some credit unions. I have a small credit union account that I only use when traveling. They charge a flat fee of $1 per ATM w/d plus 1% on the exchange. I bet if you check around you can find something comparable to that.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 09:52 AM
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Bad idea. Most hotels, restauratns etc won't take them (they want credit cards). Some banks will change them - some won't - unless perhaps you're a customer. With TC youlose about 10% of your money in fees and poor rate of exchange. With CC or cash pulled form and ATM you los only 2 or 3% of your money (unless you're pulling 20 euros at a time and your home bank charges a fee each time). When you get cash get enough for 4 or 5 days - and only pay one fee to your bank.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 09:58 AM
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Acquiring American Express travelers checks will likely cost you more than whatever your bank charges for ATM withdrawals.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 11:06 AM
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From the above responses I would imagine you've come to the realization that TCs are not the way to go!

Here are a couple of points re credit cards and debit cards :

- contact your bank and credit card providers and let them know your travel dates. You don't want your cards getting frozen.

- ask your bank if they have arrangements with a European bank... BoA does with BNP in France and thus no extra fees

- ATMs are multilingual so you'll have no problems working them.

- be aware of the time difference between home and Europe... your bank may be offline as it's night at home and daytime where you are

- ATMs will only access the primary acct
if the card is tied to 2 accounts so be sure there's enough in the one you'll be able to access

- I always up my daily limit before I leave in case I need more cash in one go than anticipated. If the machine you use has a limit it's only per transaction so remove your card and do a second (or third) transaction

Have fun!

Rob
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 12:53 PM
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Its unanimous . . .

"Seems like if I take money out at an ATM on my debit card they charge so much since my bank doesn't work in Europe."

If you think your bank charges too much -- just WAIT to see how much travelers checks will cost you. ATMs for getting cash, and credit cards for as many things as you can/want to use them are the way to go.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 01:10 PM
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Thank you all so much!!!! I will use the ATM for cash and my credit card for everything else.
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