Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Visa Travel Money or Travelers Checks?

Visa Travel Money or Travelers Checks?


Jun 18th, 2010, 05:00 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 26
Visa Travel Money or Travelers Checks?

Greetings fellow travelers,
My son and and I traveling through Spain for 24 days and Paris 10.
I do own a Credit card and Debit card that will charge me 3-4% per transaction, so I will only use in an emergency.

My Credit Union suggested a Visa Travel Money card, it costs $13. Has anyone used this?

It has a $2.50 monthly maintenance fee. Basically you load a certain amount on the card and you have a PIN. You can make purchases or for cash you 'insert card into an ATM which accepts Visa debit cards' and they charge you $2.00 fee per withdrawl at a Visa ATM. They have a $10 fee for 'over the counter withdrawal', not clear what that means.
How about if I use it as a debit card and want 'cash back'? Charge you $10?
You can also reload them by transferring additional funds from you account.
My concerns are as follows: card gets demagnetized, card eaten by ATM machine...

I would like to know how you carry your money when vacationing in Europe and your bank account is in the US.

Thank you kindly and happy safe traveling to you and your families.
Ribota is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 636
I just use a credit card and make occasional withdrawals from an ATM. Financial services companies will find a way to extract a fee - whether it is a % clearly disclosed on top of the transaction amount or something built into the exchange rate they offer. I'm not familiar with the Visa Travel Money Card but I wouldn't be surprised if the exchange rate they use provides Visa with an additional couple of percentage points on transaction amounts - just as your credit card explicitly says that it does.

For me the convenience of using my regular cards, and the accumulation of hotel frequent stay points, makes using the cards worthwhile.
frogoutofwater is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 05:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,527
No matter where we are traveling...Asia, Europe, Africa, South America...I do the same thing. ATM card and CC. Use the ATM card at the airport to take out my max (I always get my max withdrawl amount raised prior to a trip) and use that cash for small things. Everything big goes on plastic. Just easier and I, too, like the points.

Sadly, there is no non-fee way. If you drill down into your Visa Travel Card you will find lots of fees and unfavorable exchange rates.

Have a great trip with your son.
taitai is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 05:22 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,987
Traveler's checks are a nightmare--don't do that! Those are yesterday's "technology" and just as it's hard to find someone to repair a Model T Ford, it's hard to find places that will cash them.

Not familiar with Visa Travel Card but do tell you that the standard on this board is ATM for all cash and credit card for most purchases.

Very much agree with "frogoutofwater" above that every credit tool sort of "gets" you coming or going. I'm willing to swallow a bit of foreign transaction fee on my credit card not only because of FF miles but because I have a deal that will upgrade my flight priority level after so many purchases.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 05:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,094
You can't count on any one card being accepted everywhere. Use a major credit card & a debit card from your bank for cash. Contact your bank before you go to up the daily withdrawal limit & to make sure they don't lock it as suspected fraud. There is no need for anything fancy. Cash is king & it will sometimes get you an extra discount on meals & hotels.

Ian is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 05:32 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 9,648
The cheapest way to pay these days is to use your bank ATM card to get cash. My bank charges me no fees to use an ATM - just the 1% foreign exchange fee charged by the Visa network. Some US banks charge up to $5 every time you make a withdrawal. That's 2.5% on $200. Add the 1% Forex fee and that's 3.5% or less if you withdraw more at one time.

The 3-4% you will pay for using the credit card will still be less than the cost of using either travelers checks or the visa travel money card.
J62 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 05:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,341
"Visa Travel Money or Travelers Checks?"

None of the above.

Neither of these will save you time, money or frustration. As already mentioned, ATM card for cash and credit card for large purchases. Be sure to notify the bank and credit card companies there will be overseas use, otherwise they might be flagged for irregular activity.

Have a great trip.
P_M is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 05:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Africa, most places = Travellers cheques!!!!
Europe = banking card or credit.
logos999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 05:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,214
What P_M said. The fees (including currency conversion fees) you will pay for using the Visa money card are probably more than what you would pay using your regular credit and ATM debit card. Take out the maximum amount allowed each time you use an ATM to minimize the number of transaction fees. Use the credit card for larger purchases. Be sure to notify your bank/credit union that you will be traveling outside the country, and check to see what is the daily limit on withdrawals, ask for a temporary increase if needed.
Seamus is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 06:04 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,643
The only sensible thing is to pay for all larger amounts with yourcredit card and pull cash for walking around money from your checking account via ATM. This will end up costing you 2=3% of your money.

Trav checks are VERY expensive (about 8% of your money is lost to fees and bad rates) and most places will not take them at all. There have been quite a few reports of banks not accepting them except from their own customers. Visa Travel Money is a great idea for Visa - they make money by charging you fees to get your own money, by charging to get the card and by having the use of your money for long periods of time (versus you having the use of it). This will end up costing you 8% or more of your money.
nytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 10:12 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 128
I agree with the above posts on Travellers Checks, the only place in Span that I was able to pay by TC was at the Intercontinental hotel in Madrid. Even Corte Ingles would not take them. I attempted to cash TC at a number of large banks in Marbella, but they all declined.
celeste60 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 10:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 41,309
no, no, no travelers checks. Think credit card. Visa is taken everywhere better than AE.
cigalechanta is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 18th, 2010, 10:33 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 59,852
"I do own a Credit card and Debit card that will charge me 3-4% per transaction, so I will only use in an emergency. "

You are un-necessarily concerned about the credit and debit card fees. Fees are higher for the Visa travel card and MUCH higher for travelers checks.

Foreign transactions will cost you something- the banks have to pay for the services somehow. But the fees/costs are lowest for your regular credit card and debit card.

Everything else is worse-- and travelers checks are practically unusable.
janisj is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jun 19th, 2010, 12:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,497
In his book, "Nudge," Richard Thaler talks about empirical studies showing how many people fail to make financial decisions beneficial to them due to their failure to make computations using readily available numbers. Instead, they get influenced by other irrelevant forces.

Looking at the never ending stream of posters asking the question, I have to admit that the marketing strategies of these alternate financial products have been quite effective.
greg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 19th, 2010, 01:06 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 9,285
I think I have it drilled down to almost no fees:

I use my Capital One card which has no foreign transaction fee for all larger purchases.

My bank does not charge a foreign atm fee and I can withdraw my max daily. There IS a limit of 4 per month atm withdrawals overseas so I got a second account with a second card (which I would never need) so that I can have 8 atm withdrawals for free per month; after that, there is a $4 charge per atm withdrawal which is still no big deal. It is my understanding that the atm withdrawal is translated at that day's prevailing rate of dollars to euros or whatever with no additional fees or higher rate.

That being said, sometimes the atms at the airports don't work and I come prepared to exchange some cash OR pay some fees at the airport to have early currency handy. I had to do this recently and the cost was 5% to withdraw from my bank in euros for me. If I had exchanged cash or TC, it would have been 9-10%.
ncounty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 19th, 2010, 06:31 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,049
Traveler checks are not accepted in a lot of places due to many checks being used that were not real and the business being the loser.

The Visa Travel card was used by my granddaughter when she went to Hawaii and worked out okay. I would not use it in Europe.

The ATM is the easiest way to get cash in Europe. If you can get Euro in the US at a reasonable rate, then you could get some to take along. We have done that for our September trip.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 19th, 2010, 06:37 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,598
ATM and credit card.

I had a hard time cashing travelers checks in London and Paris in the mid 90s and haven't used them since.
Luisah is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 19th, 2010, 06:42 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 12,697
I always bring some cash in euros/pounds with me.I like to have money on me while I am exhausted. AAA or your bank can give you the money.
I also have a capitolone card which charges no transaction fees. The bank card you are thinking of getting has a lot of added on fees that many other banks do not have. AAA has a pounds or euros debit card pre loaded and is refundable if stolen/lost. This way it is in the money you are using. It is also free to AAA members. This may be a great card to have your son use and carry since it is like a travelers check but it is a debit/credit card.
I also use the ATM and just pay the fee. If you can find a bank here in the US that has branches in the country you are going to, you can open an account and have no fees at the ATM.

Definitely call your credit cards and bank cards to tell them you will be traveling overseas or they will lock up your cards when you try to use them. Bring two credit cards and two ATM cards from different banks with you. I plan to go to AAA and get some of the preloaded cards for my kids for our trip to England. They are teens and this way they will have their money in a credit/debit form in pounds.
girlonthego is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 19th, 2010, 07:11 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,341

You are so right Greg!! I used to hate those AmEx ads making it sound like AmEx TC's are accepted worldwide as if they are cash. I haven't seen one of those as in a long time, I hope we will never see that again.
P_M is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2010, 12:18 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 26
Thank you kindly Fodors community for the responses.
I am grateful for your guidance this will help me make our vacation so much more pleasant.
Safe travels,
Ribota is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:26 PM.