In previous eras, traveler’s checks were just about your only option if you wanted to get cash in a local currency without exchanging money directly. Nowadays, their usage is in decline courtesy of the digital revolution and the proliferation of ATMs worldwide. Traveler’s checks do still have a place in the tourist’s arsenal of tools, however. Consider the following pros and cons of using them:
– If you lose a traveler’s check, or if it’s stolen from you, it will be replaced. Often, the replacement comes quickly and free of charge, and the stolen traveler’s check is unlikely to be cashed successfully because it requires a countersignature.
– Traveler’s checks can be versatile. In some cases, you can buy them in the currency of the country you intend to visit.
– You’re not reliant on computers. For all their wonders, ATMs sometimes just don’t work. With traveler’s checks, you can still get cash even if the power is out or computers are down.
– Traveler’s checks usually have some sort of fee attached to them, and the organization originating the checks will take a cut, usually between 1 and 4 percent, of the amount the check is worth. If you’re planning to take out a lot of checks, these fees can add up.
– Not every business accepts traveler’s checks. If you’re lucky, you can just head down to the hotel lobby and change your checks for cash. However, if you’re not, you may have to waste time finding somewhere you can exchange them. Planning your excursions around bankers’ hours in a foreign country can be frustrating.
– Keeping track of traveler’s checks can be a pain. Carrying them in a money pouch can be uncomfortable, and keeping a tally of which checks you’ve cashed and how much cash you have left for your trip can add an unpleasant layer of accounting to your vacation.