traveler's checks

There is no doubt that traveler's checks have lost some popularity as of late due to the increased use of ATM and credit cards. Traveler's checks were always the 'safe' way to carry money to ensure that it was replaceable if lost or stolen. But with the popularity and convenience of 'plastic money', who needs traveler's checks? This doesn't mean that you shouldn't take any traveler's checks. Just take a couple hundred dollars worth of them for emergencies. Don't waste your time taking too many traveler's checks. ATM machines are far more convenient. Here's some advice on using t-checks:

  • write down the serial numbers of your t-checks and keep two copies separate from your t-checks (ie. one at home and one in your backpack - not with your checks)
  • t-checks are one of the safest ways to carry money. If they get stolen or lost, file a police report right away and you can hopefully get them fully reimbursed. You did write down the serial numbers somewhere didn't you?
  • you will most often be charged a commission of 2-3% or a set fee when cashing your t-checks
  • get t-checks in US funds. Some countries will not accept Canadian travelers checks (or other countries).
  • don't sign both signature areas on the t-checks ahead of time thinking it will be more convenient later. If you have signed both spaces on the check, it is as good as cash for anyone that 'finds' them.
  • always have a small amount of cash with you because you may not always be able to cash your t-checks everywhere
  • you will need your passport with you when you cash your t-checks
  • you can cash t-checks at a bank to get better rates (usually) but sometimes it can take for ever. Instead, just cash them at a reputable store. You have to suck up the loss of $3 or so on occasion to save an hour's time.