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Will traveller's cheques be accepted as cash

All of the news reports say that tourists to Greece should bring cash. I am wondering if that means traveller's cheques. I am uncomfortable travelling with large amounts of cash, but would not mind US traveller's cheques.

Posted by
8889 posts

Travellers cheques went out with the Dodo. The only places that accept them are banks, and not all banks.
You need to bring Euro banknotes.

According to all the reports I have read, in theory there is no limit on taking cash out of cash machines with a foreign account. But in practice some machines are running out of cash.
See here: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33319486

Posted by
24 posts

I am currently in Greece. You should bring Euros with you. Do not rely on getting them at a layover airport as you won't be able to get enough. Order euros ahead of time from your bank and use money belts, especially in Athens. I have been able to get Euros from an ATM today in Sparta but that doesn't mean I can walk up to any ATM in Greece and hope the machine is not empty. You may pay a higher exchange rate in the states but that pays for peace of mind of being well prepared.

Posted by
4636 posts

If you are worried about carrying larger amounts of cash, look into increasing your travel insurance.

Travellers cheques require to be put through the banking system at some time, and are much less likely to be acceptable than credit cards, let alone cash.

Posted by
807 posts

It really depends what happens over the next few days. At the moment the ECB is still backing the Greek banks, although in a limited way, should that change for the worst then it really will not matter what card you have, there simply will be no cash because the ECB will stop providing it.

Posted by
4529 posts

Travelers checks are worthless nowadays. Leave them at home. Bring euro with you and assume limited cash withdrawls from ATMs. Try and use credit cards as much as possible, though many places do not accept them.

Store you money and other valuables in a secure manner. Whether it is a waist moneybelt, neck pouch, secure travel purse or belt-loop wallet - you'll have piece of mind that you money is secure. You might also keep some money in a different but secure place.

Posted by
2796 posts

When people say "order Euros from your bank," it may add another layer of anxiety, because people think about filling out forms, waiting for delivery, etc. If you live in any reasonably big town or adjacent to same, that has any of the "Biggie Banks" (Wells Fargo, BankAmerica, Chase, Citibank, TD etc, their main branch is equipped to supply Euros on the Spot -- just walk in with cash, walk out with Euros. Get yourself a money belt (or a neck pouch, I like the latter because who needs to add inches to one's waist ?!?!?), and use it for travelling. You don't have to carry it around all the time: in a big hotel,just keep out what you need for each day's expenses and keep the rest in the hotel desk safe; when you're in a small hotel or Pension, simply lock it in your suitcase. ( Petty theft in Greek lodgings is virtually unknown, it's not part of the culture).

Will you pay a "penalty" for advance exchange?? Not nearly as much as in the past because the Euro has dropped SO dramatically against the Dollar -- the lowest since 2002!! Here is advice I gave earlier today on another forum:

The answer for anxiety-free funding for Greece travel is dead-simple.
• Figure the amount of money you plan to spend on your trip -- for simplicity, let's say $120 per day for almost everything, for a 2 week trip. (This can be done, even now, in high season, if you spend only 3 days in Athens, avoid Santorini/Mykonos, stay in modest lodgings, and don't drink a whole bunch) That comes to $1,680... lets say $1,700.
• Check out the exchange rate. ONLINE, Right now, the Euro has dropped so precipitously, the online exchange rate is $1 = €.90. (or at a GReek ATM, probably €.95). AT A US BANKS -- a biggie like Chase, Wells Fargo, Bankamerica etc . Even if the rate is $1= €1... IT IS STILL 20% CHEAPER than the rate of just 1 month ago!!!!! And at these biggies you don't need to "order" days in advance... just walk in with a wad of cash & exchange on the spot.
• Withdraw $1700 from your account. Walk to Biggie Bank. Request Euros in a variety of denominations -- About 1/3 or 1/2 in 50s, just for lodging, ferry tickets, car rental etc, about €400 in 20s, €200 in 10s, the rest in 5s & 2s.

• The "cost" for this precaution? About ?$50? in a less-favorable exchange vs Greek ATM use (but As I mentioned, the exhange rate is Waaaay more favorable to US/Canadians than it was a month ago). The time required? about 1 hour. The hassle avoided? Huge. And the relief of being able to take your long-awaited Greece trip -- priceless!

On May 26, I left the US for a 21-day trip.... my 12th journey to Greece since '99, but probably my last, since I'm not getting any younger, and cannot do the "travel pal" trips I organized in the past, which made these journeys affordable for this non-affluent retiree. I had a health issue this winter that threatened to deep-six my plans, so I was jubilant to be recovered enough for this "Grand Finale." When the Greece economic crisis loomed, I was not about to chicken out -- I simply followed the steps outlined above. By purchasing Euros in the US instead of at a Greek ATM, I paid about 4¢ more on the dollar: $1.16 vs. $1.12. Total penalty = $70. A complete bargain!

Everywhere I went, I was welcomed. I reunited with old friends -- both Greek, Expat who live in Greece, and fellow travelers, including wonderful Canadians whom I've rendevous'ed with almost annually. And I made new friends ... new discoveries, renewed my delight in the Greek culture, climate, landscapes. Je ne regrette rien.

Posted by
11613 posts

Janet, there are no extra forms to fill out at any mom-and-pop bank, it just takes two days for the bank to order euro. They arrive at the bank via FedEx.

Posted by
31435 posts

pm,

I agree with the others concerning Traveller's Cheques - they're an antiquated relic of the past and you'll most likely have a lot of trouble cashing them. The only place you may be able to cash them is banks, and as many of those are closed that won't be a possibility.

When is your trip taking place? It's possible that the situation may clarify within the next week or so, and you'll then have a better idea which strategy to follow. As mentioned, there are no limits of foreigners withdrawing cash, but of course that assumes someone is able to refill the ATM's.

Posted by
13336 posts

We've been in situations where traveling with large amounts of cash was simply unavoidable. Just keep it in a place that no one else's fingers can easily reach and you'll be fine. If you are traveling with a partner or spouse, split the amount between the two of you. As soon as you get to your hotel, put the bulk in the safe: just make sure to change the code on that safe, and test it before putting anything in. If you don't have one on your room, ask at the desk if they have an office safe for guest use.

No, do not take travelers cheques: too many businesses will not deal with them, and not all banks will cash them.

Posted by
9363 posts

Janet, Zoe is right. Many, many people don't live near big cities and can't just walk in and get euros. Even the branches of big banks like Chase won't have euros on hand in smaller cities, only in areas where they are more likely to deal with international travelers. Even my little local credit union can get them in two days, or you can order them online from banks like Wells Fargo. It's not complicated, just a matter of telling them what you need.

Posted by
2796 posts

Thanks zoe ... my info was mainly for people taking off in 24 or 48 hours and not knowing where to turn...

Posted by
2796 posts

Whoops, meant thanks Nancy ... with long threads, one loses track!

Posted by
11280 posts

A further amendment to Janet's advice for those who do live in big cities. Chase in New York used to, as she says, have currency exchange services on a walk-in basis - no advance ordering needed. The only complication was that while all the branches had the "biggies" like British pounds and French francs, only the largest and most central ones had others (I remember having to travel to a specific branch to get Australian dollars - none of the ones near me carried them).

However, for the past several years, Chase now only offers currency exchange for account holders. It is still on a walk-in basis if you have an account with them (and I'd expect all the branches to have euros), but non-account holders cannot get currency exchange there.

I have no idea if any other banks in New York still have currency exchange for non-customers.

Posted by
8889 posts

Harold, "French francs"? They haven't existed since 2002. Any bank that tries to sell you French francs for travel to France is selling you worthless paper.

Posted by
8274 posts

Chris, It's obvious that Harold is referring to the old days. He's an extremely experienced traveler who's been traveling for decades, as evidenced by his currency references. Now if someone were to give you Confederate dollars in the States....

Posted by
11280 posts

Thank you, Bets - you are correct.

Chris - read my post again. It was all in the past tense, which was the point. Back when France still used francs, Chase banks would do currency exchange for anyone - no appointment necessary. Now, they only do it for their customers (you must have a Chase account). And if you are a Chase customer, you can still get foreign currency on a walk-in basis, and as I mentioned, euros would be stocked at most branches. French francs, on the other hand, will not be available at Chase banks now - even to account holders {g}.

Posted by
5668 posts

The ability to get foreign currency at local bank really depends on your local bank! When I was in Madison, WI I could walk into my bank and easily get a few hundred pounds for my trips to the UK. I think that with all the issues in Greece right now, I would not wait until the last minute to get euros for a trip to Greece. I would go a couple of weeks in advance and I would get more as the ATMs will not be dependable. I wish anyone who is traveling to Greece this summer good luck and I hope that they have a good experience. As someone pointed out to me over the weekend, anyone spending cash over credit cards in shops and restaurants will be greatly appreciated by the locals as it will help them if the 50 or 60 € limit stays in place.

Posted by
7205 posts

In response to Foreigners can withdraw unlimited supply of Euros from ATMs while Greek residents are limited to 120E per week, you'd better think long and hard before you withdraw a pot full of Euros while being surrounded by desperate residents who are without most of their money.

Posted by
100 posts

As Harold mentioned above, some banks will now only let their own customers buy foreign currency. I ran into that issue at Bank of America. (Alas, my small bank doesn't sell foreign currency.) However, many cities have American Express travel offices (or ones that partner with Amex) that let non-Amex customers purchase foreign currency. You can search for these locations on the American Express website. As I mentioned on another post, the rate I received last month was on par with the rate I received when I used a Bancomat in Europe.