How To Buy Traveler’s Checks

Buying Traveler’s Checks the Right Way

Traveler’s checks are designed with safety in mind.  Not only are they accepted at locations all over the world, they also come in different currencies including the US Dollar, Euro, Canadian Dollar, and the Japanese Yen. Easy-to-use and keep track of, traveler’s checks take the guesswork out of managing your money when you are out of state or abroad.

For over 100 years, individuals have preferred traveler’s checks for a number of reasons.  One of them is quite simple.  With the exchange rate being so uncertain, travelers never know how much their money is really worth.  With traveler’s checks, this is seldom an issue because you have locked into the exchange rate at the time of purchase.  You also don’t have to worry about someone obtaining your personal information if your purse or wallet is lost or stolen.  That gives you added security when you are away from home and makes traveler’s checks a necessity for every globetrotter.

Decide Where You Want to Get Your Traveler’s Checks

There are a number of reputable places where you can obtain traveler’s checks.  One of them is at your local bank.  Another option is through your local AAA Auto Club.  Last but not least, you can get them from American Express, Citicorp or Thomas Cook.  This largely depends on your preference.  Some checks will bear the MasterCard or Visa name and logo.  Others may be affiliated with your bank.  The most standard traveler’s check is issued through American Express and has identifying information that matches the company.

Many issuers have replaced booklets of traveler’s checks with pre-paid debit cards.  These handy pieces of plastic work in a similar fashion but do not have the same types of security features found on traveler’s checks.  That means that it is easier to use these cards without identification.  A person will not necessarily be required to countersign a slip or prove who they are when making purchases.  If you prefer a hassle-free way to protect your money, consider the benefits offered by traveler’s checks.

Determine What Denominations Will Work Best For You and Your Budget

Having a variety of checks in different denominations will give you greater freedom as you travel.  Many retailers refuse to accept larger denominations because of the risk of them being fraudulent.  You can avoid this issue by having smaller traveler’s checks on hand while making purchases.  Buying a pack of gum to break a $100 check is not advised.  You don’t want to walk around with a wallet full of cash, now do you?

Make Sure All of the Safety Features Match Up

Traveler’s check issues have implemented a number of strategies to defer counterfeiters.  From holographic images to security inks and watermarks, each issuer has its own way of making their checks valid.  Just make sure to buy them from a trusted location like a bank or through the American Express website.  Purchasing discounted traveler’s checks from individuals other than a trusted retailer increases the probability of them being fraudulent.  Protect your assets by making sure these features are present on all the checks you are given before leaving for your trip.  You can never be too cautious when traveling abroad.

Keep the Register in a Safe Place

You should keep a written record of all your traveler’s check serial numbers in a safe place just in case they are lost or stolen.  Although each issuer has a different set of rules concerning replacement traveler’s checks, American Express provides the following options:

  1. Call a Customer Service Center with the serial numbers of the missing checks.  You can find the number to reach them at included with the paperwork that came with the checks when you first bought them.  You can also visit their website online for contact information.
  2. Once on the phone, a representative will present a number of options to you in regards to obtaining a refund.
  3. If you wish to expedite the process, you can fill out a Refund Claim Form and fax it to1-800-417-0060.
  4. Your refund will arrive to your home in the form of a company check in 7 to 10 business days.

Traveler’s checks are readily available and offer convenience to the individuals that choose to use them.  They have no hidden fees, are widely accepted, and can be replaced if they are lost and stolen.  The same cannot be said about cash.  Thieves (see our article on avoiding pickpockets) are seldom brazen enough to use traveler’s checks out of fear that they will be caught in the act.  Cash offers anonymity.  Traveler’s checks are registered in a person’s name and can be tracked back to them and their address.  This gives you more than one reason to purchase a batch for your next trip.

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