How widely accepted are Travelers' Checks?

Old Jun 17th, 2005, 04:20 AM
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How widely accepted are Travelers' Checks?

Hi! I'm touring Florida this summer (from Europe). Financially speaking, travelers' checks are the most interesting option for me. I know hotels and theme parks accept them, but how widely are they accepted in large grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, etc...? Thanks in advance!
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 04:33 AM
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I don't have any idea how widely accepted they are, but do know that you'll definitely pay more to use them than if you just got cash from an ATM after you arrive. ATMs are typically easy to find and give the best rates even after the fees that the bank charges to use them.
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 05:01 AM
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Other than the pain of signing all the travellers checks at a grocery store, I've not had a problem with them. It's been a while since I used them, but when I travelled to Asia a few years ago I carried som $US TC's with me as a backup (issued free by AAA), never used them in Asia, then spent them back in the US for food.

Here in the US, despite the widespread use of ATM/debit cards and credit cards, many people continue to use paper checks, especially at grocery stores.

I would stick to cash/credit cards at gas stations & restaruants - they may not be as willing to accept them, just because they don't see a lot of paper checks.
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 05:16 AM
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I sometimes get traveler's checks at an antique show, never a problem for me or other sellers that I know of who all treat it just like cash.

I do believe, however, that AmEx offers some kind of declining balance traveler's check card; whether it's available overseas I don't know. And whether gas stations etc here would be familiar with those, I don't know either (especially in smaller areas.) Since I haven't actually gone into a gas station to pay for years, I assume anything "scannable" would work at the pump.

Al that said, it's going to simplify your trip to carry a mainstream (Visa or MC) bank card/credit card as your best option.

B/

B/
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 05:36 AM
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I'm not sure what jlm_mi means about ATMs giving the best rates, when talking about travel in the US. If you use AAA travelers checks, there are no charges. Therefore, it's the same as using cash. However, if you use an ATM at a bank other than yours, you'll usually pay a fee.
Perhaps, he/she was thinking about overseas exchange rates.

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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 05:37 AM
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I live in Naples, Florida and we have lots of European tourists and visitors here. I have stood in line too many times behind Europeans trying to cash travelers' cheques and being asked to do everything except give a blood sample to be able to get them cashed, to ever suggest anyone use them. I have also heard clerks flatly deny them and tell the customer to go to a bank and cash them (a big help when it is evening or weekend and all the banks are closed.) They are a big pain!
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 05:41 AM
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I live in Sarasota Florida and agree with Patrick 100% Just use your credit card or get cash from an ATM
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 05:46 AM
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HowardR - I was referring to the exchange rate, as julie is coming from Europe.
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 05:48 AM
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My husband always uses AAA traveler's checks on vacation with no problem.

Maybe its because their European that some people have gotten the runaround with them in the US. We have gone to Sarasota to visit family every year for the past 18 and haven't had the experience described by other posters. We've used them in big grocery stores, mom & pop type restaurants and gas stations and never been turned away or even treated differently. I personally prefer my credit cards and the ATM.
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 05:54 AM
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As the owner of a "mom and pop" type restaurant in Florida, we accept them readily. No ID required, as long as the signature match, and they're issued in US dollars. Actually, I prefer them over credit cards (no fee for me).
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 05:58 AM
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I've used TC's in Florida grocery stores -- AmEX and Bank of America (would stick to those) -- and haven't had much problem other than checkers who had never dealt with them before -- which tells you how infrequently they're used.

Gas stations may present a problem, and I'd ask at the restaurant before you order -- some are happy to see them, some aren't. One option: get big denominations (in dollars, obviously) and cash them at a bank for several days at a time. You do end up walking around a bit "rich," but at least you don't have surprises when you need to pay for something.
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 05:59 AM
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I don;t know about FL - but in NYC we have found them very hard to get rid of (had leftovers from a european trip some years ago).

Almost everywhere will take CC or debit cards (even local stores - supermarket, deli, dry cleaners etc) but want no part of Trav Checks - just too much trouble for them - and too many possiblities for fraud.
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 08:51 AM
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When I worked at a retail store (Levi's jeans) the customers from Europe brought in lots of TCs, they were aceepted as cash, don't remember if an ID was needed. It was 8-10 years ago in San Francisco.
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 09:10 AM
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I haven't used TCs in about 10 years, ATMs and credit cards are so much easier! When we did use TCs we usually bought too many and found that trying to use them up after the trip at the grocery store or wherever was a real pain. Most places wanted to treat them like a check rather than cash and often times the clerk wouldn't know how to deal with them at all. Maybe it's different in Florida where there are so many more tourists.
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Old Jun 19th, 2005, 09:36 AM
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We travel frequently to the US from Europe and always use travellers Cheques. There is never any problem, but you must make sure they are in US dollars.
You can use them as cash absolutely anywhere and you will get change in cash. You can also encash them at your hotel's front desk at no charge.
As you can now usually buy them commisssion free it is the least expensive way of accessing your cash, as the ATMs all charge a fee.
But do make sure you get them in dollars.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 04:24 PM
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Jea - You may be giving some misinformation there. Not only do some places not take travelers' checks, but just because there is no up front fee does not make it the cheapest way to get dollars. If I offer you $115 for 100 euros and don't charge you a fee, but the ATM offers you $120 for 100 euros but then asses a $1.50 fee, you're still better off using the ATM, even with the fee. Buying travelers' checks at a bank or other association would just have the fees built into a worse exchange rate.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 04:49 PM
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Jea - I'm not an expert on trav checks in FL - since I would never use them in the US - when ATMs are so much simpler.

But they are definitely not accepted everywhere. I tried to get rid of some in New York several years ago and no one would take them - not even restaurants where I was known. They don;t take checks of any kind - only CC or cash - because they have no mechanism for dealing with them.

Also - one maitre d explained there is too much chance for fraud: people report the checks stolen, get reimbursed and then use the checks anyway. There's now way for the merchant to check on the spot - like they do with CC - and they're simply out the money.

By the way - my local supermarket will no longer take real checks either - only cash, CC or debit card. It's due to them simply being too much trouble and the risk of bad checks.

We ended up having to go the the bank to deposit them - the first time I had actually been to the bank since I had to get a certified check to buy my last car.
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