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Travelers Checks

Has anybody used or tried to use traveler's checks at a restaurant? When I went to Maine last month a bunch of places wouldn't take them, (including a Motel 6.) When I went to a Bank to cash some of them one wouldn't, (First Credit Union Of Aroostook very small I admit) and other had a hard time doing the transaction, (what is this strange thing you have.) I didn't try to use them at a Restaurant. On my next trip I'm puting more cash on my debit card.

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  1. I haven't used them in over 10 years. I've never used them in the US, but it seems to me they are going by way of the dinosaur.

    1. It's many years since I've used them. Much more convenient to use my card to pay for things or to draw cash from an ATM.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Harters

        When I'm traveling in the US I rarely even use an ATM -- I put large purchases on a card, and for walking around cash, I'll get cash back when I make a purchase at a drug store or grocery store. I can always think of something I need to buy at CVS!

      2. the only time we get traveler's checks is when we go to the caribbean, and then we cash them in at the hotel desk or at the bank for local currency. We rarely try to use them for a purchase - too many people just don't accept them any more!

        2 Replies
        1. re: jujuthomas

          The only country that I've visited where travellers cheques could be used as currency to make purchases is America.

          1. re: Harters

            on St. Lucia they take US currency as well as EC - you just have to be aware of the exchange rate. When we first started visiting there we did use the TCs for purchases, but mostly in the Duty Free shopping areas, not in the local market.

        2. I've not travelled overseas in 15 years, but I recall things shifting in the 1996-97 timeframe, as ATMs became more international (and cheaper).

          1. Haven't used them in twenty years. I'm surprised they still exist. I am sure they would be a curiousity in most places.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Steve

              yeah, it's becoming increasingly difficult to get them.

            2. We travel overseas regularly and have not seen even one of these in all the past ten years. In fact, I do not even remember what they look like!

              2 Replies
              1. re: chefathome

                http://www.darrowart.com/blog/images/...

                And remember having to sign the register individually for them in the presence of the clerk, et cet.

                That said, they offered a certain safety that is not present with ATMs and cash; there was a value provided for the fee paid.

                1. re: Karl S

                  Ah, yes. I believe I did use them on my first trip to Europe about 12 years ago and at that time it seemed the sensible and safe thing to do.

              2. just as the calculator replaced the slide rule, atm's have replaced travelers checks.

                yes, you will have to pay a fee, but its a great way to avoid having to budget yourself... LOL

                16 Replies
                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  We like them for our Vegas trips (and they are very easy to cash there...they'll take your money any way they can get it). It's a good way for us to break up our gambling budget into daily allotments that we can lock up in the room safe. The fees are included in our bank plan, so it's cheaper than paying the extra ATM fees and getting random exchange rates.

                  1. re: Sooeygun

                    We use them in St Lucia since there isn't an ATM at the resort, and we regularly need cash for taxis, which don't take credit.

                    1. re: jujuthomas

                      From the 70's I recall the AmEx checks cost 1%; the Thomas Cook checks at AAA were no cost. Are there others?

                      1. re: Veggo

                        The Big Three
                        Amex
                        Thomas Cook
                        VISA

                        1. re: Veggo

                          no question travelers checks are cheaper, and they definitely help you stick to your spending goals. Kinda like the 'old days' when you went to the bank on Friday afternoon, and thats all the money you had to spend till Monday. But except for the rare places that they don't have ATM's (growing rarer daily), you can't beat the convenience of not having to plan ahead. And we wonder why americans can't budget their money?

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            KM, I'm more old fashioned than the 'old days' you mentioned. Cash for everything.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              the first time i paid for groceries on my debit card in front of my mom i thought she was going to disown me right there at check-out. she thought i was putting groceries on a credit card (i know, some people do.) i've gone as long as two weeks without having as much as a single dollar in my wallet. everything went on the debit card.

                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                My mother is 90. I do all her grocery shopping. She insists I charge it on her Chase Rewards Visa for the 5% cash Back she gets. Not all old timers are 'cashcentric' The only cash she uses is to tip the hairdresser. Everything else is plastic.

                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                  I put my groceries on my credit card. In fact, I put pretty much everything on it if I can to get the travel rewards. I've done so for years.

                                  1. re: CanadaGirl

                                    Me too. And if someone assumes that this is irresponsible, the joke's on them. Card paid off in full every month. I get cash back rewards, and I'm way faster through the line than those (thankfully few now) check writers.

                                2. re: Veggo

                                  I'm with you. Only cash except for things like booking flights, etc.

                        2. re: KaimukiMan

                          In Europe, in particular, incidents of theft at ATMs are on the increase; it's a serious problem. Sometimes you hear about it in the U.S. as well. Also, Europe is switching more and more to cards with chips in them as opposed to the magnetic stripes in the States.

                          1. re: gourmanda

                            Yup, we still use traveler's checks in India, as ATMs there can be either sketchy or have outrageous fees.

                            1. re: gourmanda

                              "In Europe, in particular, incidents of theft at ATMs are on the increase; it's a serious problem"

                              Interested to know what evidence you've found that we have a serious problem with these thefts. Any particular country or countries cited in the evidence?

                              1. re: Harters

                                I read about it often in our travel trade magazines. Most often the reports are out of Italy and Spain. I realize it may be changing as I believe many credit/ATM cards in Europe are being switched to micro-chip versions which are not as subject to skimming as the magnetic stripe. (U.S. cards still have the stripe.) But there are also many reports of ATMs used around tourist areas where thieves will target those that they have just seen use the machine.

                                1. re: gourmanda

                                  You're right - our cards in Europe are now "chip and pin" and have been for several years. I travel to both Spain and Italy fairly frequently and have never felt that I was in a threatening situation near an ATM (FWIW, nor have I ever felt threatened here in the UK). Of course, anyone thinking of using an ATM should be aware of possible mugging situations as they would in any other street situation.

                          2. I work as a cashier at several retail venues in tourist areas. I rarely see paper Traveler's Checks but see more and more of the plastic Amex or Visa "gift cards". Not sure how the fees for those compare to the paper Checks but are accepted more universally.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: HDinCentralME

                              Visa gift cards are $6 each, regardless of amount.

                              1. re: Karl S

                                May depend where you purchase them: our credit union only charges only $3.

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  I just paid $3.95 at Wells Fargo.

                              2. I always thought traveller's checks could only be cashed/used at a bank or some larger hotels. I didn't know restaurants would accept them. I don't believe credit unions have to cash them as credit unions work a little different than banks.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: boogiebaby

                                  wow, it hurts to realize how 'old' i am based on how much the world has changed.

                                  back in the 80's my college graduation present was a europe tour... 21 countries in 54 days or something like that. aside from those countries behind the iron curtain, our travelers checks were accepted almost anyplace that dealt with visitors/tourists on a regular basis. hotels, restaurants, shops, boutiques, barbers... you name it they took em. of course the dollar was strong then, we got good exchange rates, etc.

                                  As a recent college graduate at the time I didn't even have a credit card. ATM/Bank cards were somewhere in the future. Some places even accepted personal checks. Truly a different world.

                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                    Yeah, in 86 I went to my first foreign scientific conference, as a grad student. Had to call the hotel long distance to make a reservation! and get a check drawn in french francs to mail (!) to make a deposit. And yes, used travelers checks. Foreign travel is certainly much easier now!

                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                      Yes. In the "olden days" traveler's checks were treated more or less like money if the payee took the denomination on the check (i.e. if the check was in dollars and the payee accepted dollars). When I worked retail in a tourist area in the late '70s we accepted traveler's checks, with ID. Two factors: ATMs and credit cards were much less widespread, and before high-tech printers, forgery was much more difficult.

                                  2. Wow. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I
                                    get them every time I go out of town and have
                                    for years! I don't tend to use them at businesses
                                    and exchange them at my hotels for cash for things
                                    like cab fare and to have a little cash on me.
                                    I have used them in the past at businesses and
                                    did not have problems. After all they're cash! Honestly
                                    the two places you mention having trouble getting
                                    them to use the Amex TCs doesn't surprise me,
                                    though your having trouble at restaurants does.
                                    Don't know the place you traveled to but it must
                                    have been like a small rural area.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: jinet12

                                      Actually the only place that surprised my by not taking Travelers Checks is a Motel 6. It was probally because they a national chain.

                                      I cashed most of them at a Key Bank, Best Western, Bank Of America, and a Hilton Hotel.

                                      1. re: syrup09

                                        If you have AAA, you can "buy" a Visa card. Don't remember the cost, but it wasn't much, and you can reload it up to $10,000.

                                        1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                          You can buy re-loadable Visa's without a AAA membership, though I suspect the AAA version has fewer fees. All of the supermarkets in my area sell them at the customer service counter, and they appear to be popular with customers who rely on the grocery store for check cashing services.

                                    2. Have not given a thought to Traveler's Cheques for many years. I sent my sons to Europe for an extended period in the mid-90s and they had some trouble with them from time to time, dependoing on locale.

                                      In the 70s, I used to use them as my unofficial savings account (read: stash). My bank did not charge for AMEX cheques so I could hoard them for whatever treasures I wanted to buy -- usually a gift for my husband that he thought we couldn't afford.

                                      Don't have any currently and do not remember the last time I used them. Cards are more universally accepted now.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Sherri

                                        Finally! Someone spelling it "cheque". I keep seeing the thread and thinking "what is the traveller checking?". (I know, US English vs others)

                                      2. I used some recently while in Hawaii - they took them with no problem, as long as I had photo ID.

                                        1. My parents insist on using them, and have found that they are very limited in using them now. Could not use them to buy gas at a convenience store, groceries at a grocery store, and only one restaurant would take them. I told my parents to give it up - they are too hard to use now - use your debit card instead....