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European Travelers Checks

My wife travelled to Europe in the late 1970’s and used European Travelers Checks on her tour as on of the preferred way to buy things in Europe. I’ve not seen anything on this forum about these, is this something that is no longer used?

From everything I’ve read on this forum, the use of Euros and Credit Cards for larger purchases is the best way to enjoy Europe.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
2396 posts

They may still exist but you won’t find them accepted. I bet most people you’ll encounter would not know what they are. ATM’s and credit cards (with no international fees) are the way to go. Every year I use less Euros and more credit cards.

Posted by
5641 posts

Richard your observations are correct. No one uses travelers checks here or there anymore. If you found someone here to sell them to you, no one over there would cash them, and you'd be lucky to find anyone under the age of 60 who would even know what they are. People travel there as you would here in the US - credit cards, debit cards, and cash.

But you made two over-generalized conclusions. Not every country uses euro, some still have there own currency so you have to know what they use where you are going. Also the general advice is to use your debit card to withdraw cash over there, just as you do here. There are things you need to know about using your credit card over there. Take a look at the Travel Tips button on the menu on the left of this page, and under that, Money Tips. That will give you a good overview.

Posted by
3444 posts

American Express may say otherwise, but Traveler Cheques are no more. Leave home without them!

With ATM machines on every corner that work perfectly fine with your debit card (as long as you tell your bank where and when you will be in Europe) as well as world wide credit card acceptance, Traveler Cheques have fallen out of favor. You might find a business that will take one, but your chances are greater that the clerk will refuse it because they have never seen one.

Get cash and use it. That is Euros or whatever the local currency is (US$ are not accepted by the majority of places you will probably buy things from). Use your credit cards (hopefully you have one or more that charge no foreign exchange fees) for hotels, car rentals, and other larger purchases.

Posted by
623 posts

All of the above plus know what your credit and debit card foreign transaction fees are. You can usually find this out on their websites. Also:

I recommend having multiple cards (different banks or credit unions) or make sure you and your spouse's cards have different account numbers. That way if one person has their wallet stolen and you have to cancel a card you still have back ups. My brother-in-law got his wallet stolen in Paris and they ended up with no credit card for the next 2 weeks of travel.

Write down the 1-800 numbers for all the cards you're taking and store separate from them.

Posted by
20970 posts

TCs died a slow death mostly related to fraud. With the current printing technology and software programs anyone could print their TCs are home. The was no uniform standard for TCs as there is for currencies but even currencies are subject to fraud. Credit cards for routine purchases and debit cards for cash at bank owned ATMs in country is the current model. In some areas of northern Europe even cash is slowly going away.

By the way, 800 numbers are equally useless in Europe. The back of your card will show the direct number to call.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you everyone for the replies and clarification. We will be taking the BOE 21 Day Tour this Fall. I believe all the countries that we will be visiting use Euros, with the exception of Switzerland which is Swiss Francs. We have read through a lot of great tips about using foreign currency and credit cards for larger purchases. This sounds like excellent advise and we will follow that advise.

Thank you,
Richard

Posted by
487 posts

I don't believe that I have seen a TC in over twenty years. We carry two separate credit cards along with ATM cards from two separate financial institutions.

Posted by
1522 posts

I guess American Express still issues them, but the only place I could redeem mine in 2000 was at an Amex office.

Use ATM’s

Posted by
307 posts

And put those debit/credit cards/passport/extra Euros in your money belt. Check out the "Thefts & Scams" under "Travel Tips" on the left side.

Have a great trip!

Martha (Mother Duck) formerly of Creswell - Go Bulldogs!

Posted by
623 posts

On the phone numbers, I meant all the ones on the back of the cards. My mistake. The main point being if you lose the card you'll also lose the numbers unless they are jotted down somewhere. Some people take a picture of their cards but what happens if the phone gets stolen as well?

Posted by
9183 posts

Travelers Checks are like rotary phones: you may find one here or there but no one uses them.

Posted by
415 posts

About 8 years ago I brought Visa travelers checks from Citibank for a trip to California. I went to a Citibank in California and they wouldn’t accept then. Turns out there were only 3 branches in the entire area that did. In the UK (Scotland & London) I withdrew £400 and the only cash I spent was the money I gave to street musicians. I used my No Foreign Transaction Fee credit cards for everything in The UK just like I do at home.

In the rest of Europe I got cash at bank ATMs. The rates were great and my bank only charged me $1.50. Getting cash abroad is so much easier than it was say 20 years ago.

Posted by
3640 posts

Since it’s been awhile since you’ve traveled to Europe, it’s a good idea to purchase a money belt to hold your credit cards and larger Euro bills. This is worn under your clothes. Then you can relax and enjoy the sites, and your money is secure.

My husband prefers the one that hangs vertically down inside a pant leg with tabs that loop over his belt. I like the one that hangs horizontally around my waist.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
8009 posts

I’ll just add, don’t worry about Swiss Francs ahead of time. On the bus from Monterosso to Lauterbrunnen Valley your guide will discuss how much each of you will need in Swiss Francs and then will stop at a convenient ATM so everyone can get money. On the way out to France you’ll have a last rest stop in Switzerland so you can purchase chocolate with any remaining, lol!!

This is a wonderful trip! Make sure you and your wife have separate ATM and credit cards so if something happens to one you’ve still got access. I travel solo and have 2 debit cards and 2 credit cards.

Posted by
1029 posts

US$ are not accepted by the majority of places you will probably buy
things from

Many tourist places will accept USD, but at a very bad exchange rate (bad for you I mean - not for them)

Posted by
24857 posts

When I'm visiting Switzerland I take an extra wallet - nothing fancy, just one of the free ones with velcro given out at my (former) work, so I don't get mixed up between Euro notes and Swiss notes. And another little coin purse for the same reason. Swiss 5 Frank coins are big and heavy!

Posted by
8889 posts

Nigel, I've got three wallets - CHF (Swiss Franks), Euros and £.

Every so often I am stuck behind a tourist trying to pay who keeps pulling out notes and cannot understand why the cashier accepts some (CHF) and refuses others (€) (or vice-versa depending on location). This is usually accompanied by a conversation in bad English (being a second language for both parties). The cashier trying to explain that they use Swiss Franks in Switzerland, not Euros, and which notes and coins are which. Non west-European tour groups (Russian, Asian) are the worst. I suspect nobody warned told them about Swiss Franks, and their English vocabulary does not cover financial phrases like "wrong currency".

Make sure you have the correct currency, and keep your different currencies separate.

Posted by
7304 posts

Surprised Mark still found an American Express office in 2000 because Amex started closing those up in the 1980s. No more places to pick up mail from home; now mail’s electronic. No Amex offices with young people hanging out front on the sidewalk bartering the purchase or sale of an old car to drive to Greece or Turkey for the winter, and soliciting passengers to share cost; now it’s 90 days and a rental....
No more Traveller's Checks—thank goodness.