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Remember Traveler’s checks? Do People Still Use Them?

by Debt Destroyer on April 25, 2009

travelers-motelsYee-Haw!

The Debt Destroyer clan finally got out of Dodge (meaning we took a quick vacation over Easter break).   And with such a trip, there are all the last minute preparations you need to take care of before leaving.

  • Making sure the kids are all packed up.
  • Making sure the van is ready to go.
  • Bring snacks, DVDs, & music for the trip.
  • Drop off the dog.
  • Get Traveler’s checks(cheques).

I crossed the last one off because it’s the 21st Century.

While I might pretend to be a pretty cool cat, I’ll admit to being old enough to have used Traveler’s checks.  When my high school marching band went to Disneyworld (early 90s), my Mom made me get some.  It made sense, I mean I wouldn’t trust a high school kid walking around with a wad of cash either.  I of course would’ve wanted big bills, and if I had lost them I’d have been screwed.

So looking back I think she made the right move in making me get some Travelers Checks.  And I actually remember using them (I think it was in the gift shop after watching the Muppets in 3-D).

But just a few short years after that trip, while sitting in a dorm room playing Techmo Super Bowl, I would be solicited to apply for my very own credit card(by a very attractive young lady…what are the odds?).  And I would never use a travelers check again.

But should I be?

Looking at some sites it seems like they can serve as a nice emergency option when traveling abroad. But sadly my international travel experience have only been a couple of trips to Canada(Honeymoon & Pearl Jam concert), so I didn’t feel the need to worry about that.

Does anybody use these things anymore?

No really, I’m curious if people still use these or not.  If you don’t, did you ever?

Until next time,

-DD

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt April 26, 2009 at 8:05 am

My wife and I went on our honeymoon to Ireland in 1999. On Day 1, we had just cashed several hundred ‘pounds’ worth of traveler’s checks. My wife, God bless her, lost her wallet including license, debit card, and of course, the cash we had just gotten! We were poor for the rest of the trip! No more traveler’s checks for me!

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Becky April 26, 2009 at 8:54 am

No. We’ve lived in Poland since 1994 and never used them. We recommend that people bring cash or ATM cards. People can get the cash they need when they need it in the currency where they are. Traveler’s checks are expensive to cash. They charge a percentage at the bank to cash them out. Restaurants generally don’t take them. Cashiers would just look at you funny if you showed up trying to buy souvenirs with them.

We’ve been all over Europe as well as Israel and Egypt. Our ATM cards worked everywhere. (Our bank in the states is Wells Fargo.)

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Kristy @ Master Your Card April 27, 2009 at 2:03 pm

As a bank employee I can tell you that people still use them and they serve their purpose; however, I think a debit/credit/gift card is a much better way to go. If the plastic is lost, you can call in and have it shut off, no problem. If you lose the TC, you can call to have them replaced, but it’s a process. Not to mention, if that’s all you had with you, then you have no money for the rest of the trip. In the case of plastic, it’s always advisable to have a back up card.

I have used TC before and I’ve always found them to be a bit of a hassle. However, this is because I use my debit card for everything. I wouldn’t even have the patience to stand there and sign all of those checks before leaving the bank, and then sign them again when I want to use them. Meh…

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ChristianPF May 1, 2009 at 9:31 am

I too used to work at a bank and can attest that many people still do use them – I guess they are just creatures of habit. But I agree, I think there are much better options with plastic these days…

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Slinky May 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm

I’ve used them the last two times I went on vacation, both in the states. If I used my singular debit card (no CC) I’d either get charged every time I took out cash or be walking around with WAY too much money. I’d also be screwed if I lost it.

With the traveler’s checks (which I get for no charge from my credit union BTW), I take the check(s) I want for the day and my debit card, leaving the rest in the hotel room (safe). Generally, we had breakfast at the hotel which we paid for with traveler’s check, getting the rest back in cash for the day. Not all that different than hitting the ATM, except I don’t have a fee to pay and I’ve still got some cash if I lose my card. I’ll probably get them again for this year’s vacation.

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Ron Russell May 8, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Use to when I would travel out of the country I would always get travels checks, now however, I never fool with them—plastic is everywhere and thats good.

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Karen April 12, 2010 at 11:58 am

We travelled to holland, Belgium and France and took Travelers cheques in Euro’s. We were NOT ABLE TO USE OUR TRAVELERS CHEQUES ANYWHERE, no bank would take them, no hotel would take them, it was a HUGE problem for us, we had some cash but most of it was in travelers cheques. Of course, we were able to use our visa and atm. We were told by banks in all 3 countries we visited that TC were not used anymore and most people were so surprised to see those cheques after so many years. My family said: travels cheques, what is that?? (they made fun of them) Upon return home (canada) our Bank was not at all interested to know about this issue, neither was Thomas Cook.

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