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$ Travellers Cheques or ATMS?

Old Mar 12th, 2005, 02:13 AM
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$ Travellers Cheques or ATMS?

Have a 3 week stay in California in September; on European holidays we usually use ATM's (Visa debit card) for our money, but would we be better taking $ travellers cheques for our trip. If we used the ATM's is there normally a charge?
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Old Mar 12th, 2005, 02:58 AM
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You will have no trouble finding ATMs. As far as charges, in addition to any fees your bank charges, if any, if you use a bank different than your own or not in the same "network" - like Cirrus - there is usually a fee of $1-5.

A way around any fees is to get cash from a vendor when using your debit card. For example, if you buy $10 worth of groceries, ask for $50 "cash back". Your debit card is then charged $60 without a fee. Generally no fee - maximum withdrawel is usually around $50.
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Old Mar 12th, 2005, 05:39 AM
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ATM is the way to go now. I even wonder if you could use a traveller's check in a store.
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Old Mar 12th, 2005, 06:30 AM
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My daughter worked last summer at H&M, a retail chain that draws lots of international customers. They accepted travelers checks but she rolled her eyes about it, since it required checking IDs, getting a supervisor's signature, etc., a big production. And there were limits about how much cash chould be given in change.

So it's definitely ATMs! Around here, they warn you about the amount of the fee before you proceed with your transaction, so you can back out and find another machine if it's outrageous.
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Old Mar 12th, 2005, 06:38 AM
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Just a word of warning that is obvious to us ATM users, but may not be to someone who has never used one. You need an ATM card from your bank to properly withdraw funds from a machine from your bank account. We are not talking about going to an ATM, inserting a general credit card and "borrowing money" on your card. This is not a good plan, as you will be paying interest on your withdrawal from the time you get the money until you pay your bill -- unlike making purchases where there is no interest for the first month or more.
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Old Mar 12th, 2005, 08:53 AM
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I think we will use our ATM visa debit card - good idea about "cash back" in stores. We generally do that here in the UK, but hadn't thought of doing the same on our vacation.
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Old Mar 12th, 2005, 09:06 AM
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We stopped using travelers checks about 5 years ago, both here and abroad. One tip...when you do go to the ATM, make sure to get at least $200-$300 (or what you feel comfortable with) at a time so you can actually use cash when possible (rather than going four times for $50 each time). That way, if you are charged a fee, you won't incur fees as often.
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Old Mar 12th, 2005, 09:22 AM
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The idea of a traveler's cheque is in case your wallet is lost or stolen. If your wallet is lost or stolen, than your lost ATM will do you no good. I am trying for the first time the Amex prepaid travlers card. It is used like a credit card, but is reimbursed like a traveler's cheque in case it is lost or stolen. I am taking a trip and had it loaded with 400 dollars. This is just in case money. If I don't use it on my trip, I can use it for groceries when I get back until it is gone. I can reload it for any vacation in the future. I also plan to bring some cash and credit cards. There is an upfront fee of about 14.00 dollars. It is my piece of mind. Since you are traveling far from home, I recommend something like this as your added security.
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Old Mar 12th, 2005, 12:28 PM
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Debit card.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 05:17 PM
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Just wanted to add that some banks do charge you a fee when you use your check card as a debit card (rather than as a credit card), which you have to do in order to get cash back on a purchase. Ours charged 75 cents per transaction for awhile, got complaints and dropped the fee for awhile, now they're back to charging 30 cents per transaction. But it's still a lot cheaper than using an ATM that isn't your banks'. And most grocery stores, WalMarts, etc will let you get $100 back.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 06:53 PM
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You might check to see if your bank has any agreements with California banks to help reduce the transaction charges. When we visited the UK we knew that Bank of America and the Barclay bank had such an arrangement so we tried to use Barclay ATMs when possible.
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