Travellers cheques, cards and cash
Travellers cheques - the pros and cons
Unlike cash, travellers cheques are protected the minute they're purchased.
If lost or stolen, American Express Travellers Cheques can be replaced with a single telephone call - usually within 24 hours.
Don't rule them out as old fashioned, especially if your travel insurance policy won't cover you for the sort of sums you're likely to be carrying around when going shopping abroad.
They're still a safe way to protect yourself against the hassle and inconvenience of losing your cash.
- Safer than cash - if stolen or lost you can obtain a refund or replacement, usually within 24 hours
- Convenient - available from the Post Office or buy online
- Easy to use - sign upon receipt, note serial numbers, countersign when you use them to pay or exchange for local currency
- Any change is provided in local currency
- Exchanged at banks; many hotels, restaurants & shops; FX bureaus and AmEx Travel locations (photo ID may be needed)
- They don't expire, so save them for another trip, or sell them back
- Up front payment
- Not accepted everywhere
- Signatures need to match - a subjective opinion so they cannot be cashed for/by other people
- Small fee incurred in use
- Need to keep record of numbers
- Not the anti-fraud or insurance benefits of some credit card purchases
Hole in the wall
More and more of us are sidestepping travellers cheques and using cash and credit cards in ATMs (Cash Machines) to draw out cash around the globe.
It beats the hassle of buying travellers cheques beforehand.
On the other hand losing cash abroad can make you lose time on holiday. You can minimise the risk by planning several withdrawals while away.
According to the statistics, every 36 seconds a British traveller abroad is a victim of theft. This might make you think twice about using your debit/credit card at the ATM. Another reason can be hefty charges for ATM use and poor exchange rates.
Avoid unlicensed and street currency dealers always. They have tricks, traps and moving stories a relaxed and off-guard holidaymaker can easily fall prey to.
Cold Hard Cash
Cash has the significant advantage of being very easy to use and free to hold.
The advantages of cash make it extremely desirable to other people too.
If you carry all your travel money in 'readdies' and one place you could be very vulnerable to theft or street robbery.
Storing it in a hotel room, apartment, villa or hostel can be a problem if there is no safe.
Travel Insurance for Money
Personal money definition
Personal money tends to mean bank notes, currency notes and coins in current use, travellers' and other cheques, postal or money orders, pre-paid coupons or vouchers, travel tickets, event and entertainment tickets, phone cards, money cards and credit/debit or pre-pay charge cards all held for private purposes.
Different levels of policy insure different values. Often total values covered are from £250 - £500 with a large proportion of this for cash losses.
Insurance tends to cover the accidental loss of, theft of or damage to personal money and foreign currency during the 72 hours immediately before your departure on the outward journey.
Typical conditions relating to claims include:
- Reporting the loss to the local Police within 24 hours of discovery, or ASAP after, obtaining a written report of the loss, theft or attempted theft
- If personal money/cash is lost, stolen or damaged while in the care of a hotel or your accommodation provider, you must report it to them, in writing, with details of the loss, theft or damage and obtain written confirmation.
Typically not covered are:
- The first £x amount (eg £65) of each and every claim per incident
- Cash confiscated or detained by customs or any other authority.
- Loss or damage due to depreciation (loss in value), variations in exchange rates or shortages due to error or omission.
- Personal money tends to be excluded from a policy if left unattended at any time (including in vehicles, checked luggage or in the custody of a carrier, tour or public transport operator) unless in a hotel safe, safety deposit box or in locked accommodation.
- Loss or theft of traveller's cheques are excluded if you've not complied with the issuing agent's conditions or where the issuer provides a replacement service.