Summer is around the corner and folks are getting ready to pack their knapsacks for a sojourn in a faraway land. But what's the best way for travelers to carry their hard-earned cash?
For those who are afraid of traveling with large amounts of cash or credit/debit cards, you may have entertained the idea of travelers' checks. They function like cash, but can be replaced if lost of stolen. But are they still legally valid?
The answer largely depends on where you are going. The golden era of travelers' checks is over in many areas, but is still a great option for others.
If you're heading to Europe, get your rubberbands ready because cold hard cash is the way to go, Budget Travel reports. In Europe, travelers' checks hail from yesteryear. Regardless of whether they're in euros, many retailers and hotels in Europe no longer accept them as valid forms of payment.
The United Kingdom
Following suit, the United Kingdom has largely bid adieu to the use of travelers' checks. In fact, a major government oversight hopes to ban all paper checks by 2018, says Budget Travel.
If you really want to take travelers' checks to Europe or the UK, you could take them to a bank and cash them for local currency -- but only after paying conversion fees. Get ready to endure some some sticker shock, because you'll be charged fees of up to $9.00 to cash those checks.
If your summer voyage includes a trip to places like China, you're in luck. Travelers' checks are a great option here. Because fees are low, and the exchange rate is regulated by the Chinese government, travelers' checks present an incredibly safe and affordable way to swap your Benjamins (or Washingtons...) for yuan. This is a particularly useful option if you are venturing out to more rural areas that may not have readily accessible ATM machines.
Before investing in a stack of travelers' checks, check out the policies of your bank and your vacation destination. If all else fails, there's always bartering.
- American Express Travelers' Checks FAQ (American Express)
- Visa Travelers' Checks FAQ (Visa)
- FindLaw Release: Tips for Safe and Smart Summer Travel (FindLaw's Official Blog)
- Can I Travel without a Green Card? (FindLaw)