Did you ever use travelers cheques?

in #travel2 years ago

I know that I felt super fancy when I got my batch of American Express Travelers Cheques, mostly because up to that point in my life I had never seen "check" spelled that way. Yes, I realize that it is technically the correct spelling but we are all products of our environment.

Back when I first started traveling it was the best thing to have as a method of getting money in other countries. ATM machines were unreliable and not as omnipresent as they are today and the security on these things was pretty incredible. Even if you lost them they would be quickly replaced and the same was true if they were stolen.


You could get them in all sorts of denominations and while I don't remember how much it was there was a very small fee associated with them. While there were some places I traveled that currency exchange windows would charge a fee for cashing one, most of the tourist areas had such high competition surrounding their business model that they would normally waive the fee and even if they didn't it was very small.

The major benefit of using these was that even if you lost them or they were stolen they would be quickly replaced and you would not be liable for the old ones, even if the person who stole them cashed them all. I am sure that this resulted in a great deal of fraud for Amex but they must have been making money or they wouldn't have done it.

These days, I don't know if anyone even uses these things anymore as the world has kind of moved on to a similar program but it is a traveler's debit card that kind of follows the same principal of zero liability on your part should you lose it or it be stolen.

These things were always readily available as long as I have been alive and when I would run into people that were traveling around with loads of cash in their backpacks I thought that was a very dangerous way to get around. If someone had decided to rob me or break into my guestroom they would have been able to make off with about $20 in actual cash, the rest would be in traveler's cheques and these can prove very difficult to cash since the place that cashes them must make a copy of your passport or ID card and then confirm it is you. Therefore, if there was an actual crime such as armed robbery involved in their acquisition, you can imagine that only the stupidest of criminals would even try to flip them at a bank because there would be tons of evidence that leads back to them.

These days I would imagine that most people probably travel with some sort of electronic card something or other and it has been many years since I saw a Travelers Cheque - I wonder if they still exist?

However, back in that late 90's and early 2000's when I first started traveling they were the best way to bring money around the world without worry. I'm sure they probably existed long before that as well.


Last time I travelled I had a travel card from my bank with foreign currency loaded onto it. Those days have long gone.

i recall being in places where you couldn't find an ATM or it didn't accept foreign cards. It's crazy how all of that has changed. I have only been to one country without ATM's and that was because even though they had their own money, they used the USD