Traveler's checks for the US?

Aug 21st, 2004, 03:01 PM
  #1  
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Traveler's checks for the US?

I haven't used TC for years (I travel primarily overseas). But given how the US banks tack on charges for non-customers' ATM use and my own bank charging for non-network ATM use, would TCs be a good (and safe) option for US travel? I don't like to carry a lot of cash (at home, I usually carry no more than $5). I already know I will need to have some cash for my trip. Will hotels still exchange them for cash with no charge?
nibblette is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 03:15 PM
  #2  
 
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If you have to pay for traveler's checks, then you might as well use ATMs. (If you're a AAA member or have an Amex card, you can get them for free.)
I find it hard to believe that you carry no more than $5 in cash at home. That sounds extremely impractical to me.
As for hotels, most (if not all) will accept and cash traveler's checks for you without a problem if you are staying there.
HowardR is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 03:24 PM
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Even though I am the queen of bargains, deals, saving money - even I would not sweat over several $1-$5 fees as an added expense of travel. As long as you don't try to withdraw only $5 at a time, the total fees should really be inconsequental compared to cost of any trip.
gail is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 06:22 PM
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Exactly - I don;t know why people make such a fuss over 99 cent ATM fees - unless they taking out $20. If you take out $200 to $300 at a time you'll have plenty of walking around money for the trip for a couple of dollars.

As for walking around with $5 - well that won;t even pay for a short cab ride - or a couple of magazines - can;t imagine ever having less than $100 cash for incidentals.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 06:29 PM
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I agree to forget the traveler's checks. Some people say their bank charges something like $5 for using another ATM, to which I think they have the wrong bank, but that's their business. Does your bank have branches where you're going by the way? And I agree that even $5.00 on a $300 withdrawal is peanuts and less than you'll probably lose on TC's, in sanity trying to cash them if not in actual fee.

But this thing about only having $5.00 in cash I can understand. While I travel I need more. But I've been home for 10 days now. When I got home I had 55 in cash in my wallet. Right now I have 47. In other words here at home I have only spent $8 in cash in well over a week. I often only have less than $10 in my pocket at home. I charge everything over $20, and rarely buy anything less than that. Unless I'm stopping at Starbuck's daily and dropping $3.50 or so, I simply don't spend any cash at home, so I understand, nibblette.
Patrick is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 07:49 PM
  #6  
jor
 
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I almost never carry cash. I use my ATM bank card (its a charge card) or AMEX card for everything. Forget the ATM machines. Way to expensive. And forget the travelers checks.
jor is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 08:18 PM
  #7  
 
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If your bank charges $1.50 for "foreign" ATM withdrawals and the ATM you're using also charges $1.50, that's $3 per withdrawal (obviously).

If you will be using a debit or credit card for purchases (and you can use cards just about everywhere these days), and you'll only need $100 or so for incidentals, the best bet is to withdraw the cash you'll need for your trip from your local bank before leaving home. Then, just make sure it's secure while out and about.

You'd want to check with the front desk everywhere you plan to stay to determine whether you can cash traveler's checks there.
djkbooks is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 09:55 PM
  #8  
 
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Always good to have at least SOME traveler's checks in your possession when traveling in unfamiliar territories. ATM's won't work in a power failure, earthquake, hurricane, etc etc.
tracys2cents is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2004, 08:31 AM
  #9  
 
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I've found fewer and fewer places that are willing to take a Traveler's Cheque. I now tuck a $50 TC away for extreme emergencies (yes, I know I'm not making interest on that money), but I stick to ATM's. If you are worried about the tack-on fees, shop a little for banks that will keep them down and -- despite your justifiable unwillingness to carry a lot of cash, remember that fewer transactions for larger amounts will cost you less than going to an ATM daily for $40.
soccr is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2004, 08:49 AM
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On the other hand, $3 is cheap insurance if you're really worried about being unwillingly relieved of your cash.
djkbooks is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2004, 09:32 AM
  #11  
jor
 
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I forgot to tell you about the down side of having Only an american express card and not master card or visa. There are many businesses even large chain stores which do not accept american express. The other two are probably better to have. The reason is that Amex charges the business owner a higher percentage than the other two.
jor is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2004, 09:50 AM
  #12  
 
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As an added note: I've been in situations where I had to find an open bank that would accept my traveler's cheques because the hotel would not accept them. The fear is that apparently they have become very easy to forge or counterfeit, so fewer merchants trust them. Sad. I always felt so secure and wealthy with a wallet full of un-used TC's.
soccr is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2004, 10:11 AM
  #13  
 
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I find the best way to get cash while traveling in the U.S. is to use my ATM card to make a purchase at a chain store, like CVS, Safeway or Wal-Mart. You can get up to $50 cash with a purchase of pretty much any amount and no ATM fee.
crys is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2004, 11:46 AM
  #14  
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Thanks, everybody. I think I will still get a few TC (fee-free from AAA) for peace of mind (read there is an increase in muggings where I'm going). My hotels will cash them without a problem. But I'll bring more cash than I usually carry at home "just in case". I plan to rely primarily on CC since I'll be in touristy areas and CC accepted almost everywhere.
nibblette is offline  

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