What kind of traveler's checks to buy
When purchasing traveler's checks or travellers cheques, stick
to major brands like American Express and Visa.
Buy at least some of the checks in small denominations, for two
reasons: Shopkeepers may be reluctant to accept large checks for modest
purchases, and you'll want to avoid getting stuck with more foreign currency
than you need.
If you're traveling with a companion, use dual-signature
travellers checks such as the American Express "Cheques for Two."
These are especially handy in emergencies, since either partner can spend or
cash the checks.
Consider buying foreign-currency checks--especially Euro checks,
if you're visiting the Euro currency region. This way,
you can use traveler's checks in shops, hotels, etc. without paying multiple
commissions or high conversion fees. (But don't buy more than you plan to
use, since unused cheques will have to be changed back into your home currency
unless you save them for another trip.)
Where to buy traveler's cheques
Banks and credit unions sell traveler's checks, as do the AAA,
the CAA, and many other national automobile associations.
The traditional purchase fee for travellers cheques is 1%,
although some agencies charge more. Shop around before buying; your bank or
credit union may offer free check purchases with certain types of accounts, and
members of automobile associations are usually exempt from purchase fees.
Caution: Avoid prepaid travel debit cards, which
are like a debit-card version of traveler's checks, unless you're willing to
tolerate mind-boggling currency-exchange fees. See our
Visa TravelMoney Card article for details.
Traveler's checks are advertised as being "safer than cash,"
because the issuers promise to replace them if they're lost or stolen. However,
the reality is often more harsh: If the issuer decides that you've been
negligent, it may refuse to pay up.
In practical terms, this means you should handle travellers
cheques as if they were cash. You should also keep copies of your receipt and
transaction record in two or more places, to be sure of having a record if you
need to claim a refund.
Traveler's Checks - Page 1
Photo copyright © Stefan Klein.
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