How do I Use Traveler's Cheques?

Eric Tallberg
Eric Tallberg
Man with a backpack
Man with a backpack

When traveling, even in this day of credit and debit cards, it is always nice to have some cash on hand. Traveler’s checks, the U.S. spelling of the British traveller's cheques, are the safest and most convenient method to ensure that travel money is available for a cash transaction, if necessary, when traveling abroad. Ordinarily, traveler’s cheques are only needed when traveling in a foreign country.

Nearly all large banks or credit card companies will have their own brand of traveler’s cheques. Simply look up “traveler's checks,” or “travellers cheques,” on the Internet. Not every brand of traveler’s cheques is as acceptable to merchants as another, so try to pick cheques from a major bank or credit card company.

Using traveler’s cheques is actually fairly straightforward. When paying for a purchase, or for travel expenses, the first thing to do is ask the sales clerk if the establishment accepts traveler’s cheques. Many stores and businesses will not, preferring cash, a credit card, or a debit card, instead. If the establishment does accept them, determine the total amount of your purchase.

Traveler’s cheques are ordinarily issued in denominations of $20, $50, and $100 US Dollars. Choose the denomination that will cover the amount of the purchase, and write the amount on the proper line of the cheque. This amount will be deducted from the cheque denomination.

At this point, sign the cheque, while making sure the salesperson watches. In this way, the salesperson will know that the cheque belongs to the person writing it. Identification may be asked for in any case, to protect both the merchant and the customer. If change is due from the purchase, it will be given in the local currency.

When purchasing traveler’s cheques, at a bank, for instance, the purchaser is required to sign the cheques on the top signature line of each individual cheque. This must be done while in the presence of the teller at the bank. Therefore, signing the cheque when making a purchase allows the two signatures, top and bottom, to be compared as further protection against unauthorized use.

There is one very important thing to remember when purchasing traveler’s cheques. Make sure the bank receipt for the cheques is kept in a safe place. The receipt will have each individual cheque number listed, and is a guarantee of replacement if cheques are lost or stolen. This is the reason traveler’s cheques are used. Unlike cash, lost or stolen cheques will be replaced by the issuer, as long as the owner has the receipt listing each cheque and establishing that they were paid for.

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