Travellers Cheques V Credit card
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Nov 19, 2012 1:47 PM Last Post By: blondebunbun
Nov 13, 2012 5:39 PM
Travellers Cheques V Credit cardHi Guys,
I know that most people will shy away from Travellers cheques and lean towards credit cards. When travelling to America I have always used a mix of Travellers Cheques (in US Dollars) and local Currency and never had any issues. Friends of mine recently returned from their trip and were so frustrated with how difficult it was to change Travellers cheques and how many times they were hit with extra charges on their credit card (I think it was a pre loaded travel visa card). Most of the places where I had used Travellers cheques had been in high tourist areas such as Disney and other theme parks and in big department stores. Can somebody please let me know if this has changed as I am planning on taking my family back again next year?
Thanks in advance for you help
Nov 13, 2012 6:56 PM
1use your credit card as much as you can
you'll have a record of use through your monthly
Any charges you do not recognize on your statements
simply speak to your card provider and ask for more info
some companies use different trading names for
credit / charge cards.
Carry with you some cash say roughly $200. for
a two-week stay and use for small purchases
and dont forget to leave tips
In restaurants 15 % of the bill total is sufficient.
enjoy your trip.
Nov 13, 2012 6:59 PM
Nov 13, 2012 8:17 PM
3There will probably be a fee for foreign exchange transactions that will bite you via your credit card. Check that out before you go so that there is not an unpleasant surprise. Banks and old people will be able to take care of travellers checks, but young peope might think that you are trying to pull a fast one and cheat them.
Wow, "daddy-o." When was the last time you saw that in print? Shades of On the Road. A blow for language preservation.
Nov 13, 2012 9:45 PM
4Credit card companies operate internationally so the fee for using them outside the country of issue is usually standard - a 2.5% upcharge on top of whatever your purchase is. You will not ever see this fee on your statement as it is embedded within the exchange fee - not itemized where you would notice it.
This subject comes up on some of the other branches quite often as frequent travelers are always looking for a way around it. I've seen some posters from the UK report that they can get a credit card from some vendors in UK that will permit them to use it internationally without this charge. I am Canadian and we don't have any cards that will do this. The exception is one company I checked out a few years ago but I would have to have $50,000 on deposit with them. Not worth it. I can get an American VISA card issued to me by the Royal Bank and this is a choice for snowbrids who spend 6 mos of the year in US but the monthly fees make this a poor choice for an occasional user.
The fees on ATM cards can be more flexible. They vary between $3 and $5 these days. This is per use so the best idea is to withdraw the maximum amount your card will permit at any one time. There are cards from some banks that will allow so many free international withdrawals but you will need to check with your own vendors to find out which ones would work for you and whether it is worth it for you to open an account with them for this purpose. I have an Australia friend, for example, who is able to make free withrdrawals from TD Banks here in Canada.
As a Canadian I travel to US quite often so I opened a Bank of America account there. I normally keep a few thousand in that account so I have no fees charged to it. When I am going to make a longer trip there I deposit however much money I think I'll use (+ 20% cause I always spend more) and then use the BOA ATM (debit) card as if it were a credit card. That way I pay no fees at all - as long as I withdraw at a BOA ATM machine. The other option for cash is to take the "cashback" option when I shop. For example, when you buy groceries you will be offered the option of cashback when you slide your card. This means you can add cash to your purchase price and that way get cash without any fees or the bother of going to an ATM machine.
I will always look for the most frugal option, but when all is said and done, the convenience of being able to withdraw cash or pay a bill with my credit card while I am on the opposite of the world? Priceless. I am old enough (60s) to remember when I had to buy travelers cheques then go to the American Express office at very restricted hours to cash them .... the first time I stood on the Champs Elysee and withdrew cash from a machine ...well, it's magic. And it's worth a few dollars for the security and convenience.
Travelers cheques are no longer very useful or convenient. The last time I tried to use one was in a small town about ten years. ago. I was told that it would take 3 days for the cheque to be cleared, before I could get my money - that was the last time I pulled one out. The time before that I was at a money exchange in the Frankfurt airport and they were happy to cash my travelers cheque - for a 10% fee. So you see why I no longer use them.
Nov 14, 2012 7:18 AM
5As Mr.McQuire advised Benjamin in The Graduate "There is a great future in plastics." He wasn't talking about credit cards of course but the reality is that plastic. a.k.a credit cards and debit cards are the present. Traveler's checks, ancient history. Check with your bank to see what the transaction fees are for withdrawing cash from an ATM. Carry a money belt and do like many of us yanks do when we travel around the world, use a money belt.
I usually with draw about 300 in whatever denomination to carry with me. If I need more, I find a bank ATM.
Nov 14, 2012 8:00 AM
Nov 14, 2012 8:01 AM
7I always carry a few hundred to a thousand dollars in Travelers Cheques as well as a debit card (Visa) and a credit card (Visa). I have had several ATM's in other parts of the world refuse to honor my valid debit card and credit card. It is always nice to have cash or TC's which I have never had a hard time spending. Usually I use TC's at my hotel to pay the room bill and they virtually always accept them and discount the rate a little. I used some in Istanbul last October at a small hotel. Also we used one to pay for a rug in Goreme. Always notify your bank and or CC issuer that you will be traveling out of the country so they won't put a hold on your account when charges come in from unusual places. It is always a good idea to have the local phone number of someone at your local bank to call if there is a foulup while you are out of the country.
Nov 14, 2012 12:23 PM
8Travelers checks might still be appropriate in the developing world, but the U.S. is not the developing world. Credit cards and ATMs work just fine here. Travelers checks carry at least as much, and probably considerably more, bank rake-off, which is reflected in both the fees themselves and in exchange rate differentials.
In this country, you simply don't see foreigners using travelers checks, and the same goes for Americans traveling to Europe. Now, we're talking about a collective population of 700 million or so people in both regions, so there will no doubt be exceptions. But those exceptions only prove the rule: When traveling to the United States, your credit and debit cards are the coin of the realm.
Nov 14, 2012 2:16 PM
9Thanks for all your replies; I was expecting a lot of posts recommending to only use Credit cards. As I had mentioned, when I had changed a Travellers Cheque it had either been in one of the theme parks or in a major department store. I would use a $100 cheque to pay for something only costing about $10 then I would receive the change in cash without being slugged a fee. I would do this a number of times throughout the day while in the parks or the store. However, I would say that #8 has a good point about all the inbuilt fees for the cheques. I will have to do some investigating before our next trip.
Nov 14, 2012 3:51 PM
10I hope you'll post the results of your investigation. I am not the spokesman for credit cards or ATMs. As far as I'm concerned, it's all about the banks. And take it from someone who met the CEOs of most of the banks that caused the 2008 financial collapse: Every last bank and every single banker is stupid, lazy, greedy, and evil. And most of them are ugly and don't smell very good. So if travelers checks are cheaper, I'm all for travelers checks. But I doubt they are cheaper for you to buy and use, considering that they are more expensive to issue and to process. And guess who issues travelers checks? You got it -- the banks. There are no bargains in the banking world, sport. Only carnival geeks, con games, busted mortgages, idiotic lending practices, and government bailouts at the point of a financial howitzer.
Be sure to research not just the up-front fees, but also to compare the exchange rate they give you compared to what's published in whatever financial newspaper or website you use. There are plenty of ways to skin a cat and/or an unsuspecting traveler. Consider yourself a 400-pound lady on the beach, freshly slathered in tanning oil. The banks? They're the mosquitos coming to suck your blood.
When it comes to credit cards and ATMs, the last time I checked (a few years ago), the currency conversion is done at the rates on the day of the transaction, with no add-ons. Instead, they'll levy a transaction fee, which was anywhere from 1% to 4%. The various cards levy differing fees, which you then must weigh with consideration to whatever annual fee they might charge. On average, the last time I checked, Americans paid 1.5% to 2% to use their debit cards overseas, and 3% to use their credit cards overseas. There is no justification for charges anywhere close to these, but what the hell? If they can get away with it, they'll do it. And they can get away with it.
If you use a credit card to get a cash advance (as opposed to making a direct withdrawal from your bank account via ATM), the fees can be pretty ruinous, which is why I avoid cash advances like the plague. And the various transaction fees and commissions on all financial instruments and transactions tend to be higher outside of the U.S., owing to generally higher concentration and thus lower competition among banks in Europe than within the United States. And when it comes to naked financial corruption, America is damn good at it, but we learned it (cough, cough) from someone else. As you can see, any red blooded American despises anything having to do with banks and bankers. They are the original disease-carrying parasites, and like any common rat we loathe and fear them and their plague-ridden fleas.
Anyway, some U.S. bank ATMs will charge a fee to use them, although I seem to recall that such fees are waived on each side for international users. Some time back, I wrote FAQ post #168 about all of this. It was exhaustively researched and detailed to the Nth degree. But the banks are crafty, clever, and dishonest at every turn, and as a result these things change. So if you do the research I'd be interested to know what you learn, in as much gritty detail as possible.
p.s. I'm so glad I managed to insult the bastards in each paragraph.
Nov 14, 2012 4:59 PM
11Credit card use on vacation
Before you depart contact your card provider(s)
and tell them your going on vacation
where you will be and the length of stay
reasons for this is ? lets say you go on a spending spree
the card provider knowing your on vacation will not stop your card being used
and this will save you a lot stress.
Nov 14, 2012 5:01 PM
12#11's idea is a good one. I once had a card canceled while I was in Japan, and it wasn't fun.
Nov 14, 2012 9:02 PM
Nov 15, 2012 7:20 AM
14I witnessed a European trying to pay the entrance fee at Universal Studios last August with TC's. They were not accepted.
(0 star Hotel)
From US$44.03 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$130.37 per night
Cancún & AroundBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$294.00 per night