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Anyone Still Use American Express Travelers Checks?


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I had to look up to see if they're still issued:  https://www.americanexpress.com/us/travel/travelers-cheques/

 

They are. Anyone use them for anything?

 

I remember at my first job at Taco Bell, that we accepted them. From what I recall, the customer filled one out and signed it, we asked to see their ID, we gave them their poison, I mean food, and change in cash. They were rarely used as payment, but we took them, and deposited them at the bank like a check.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Burgerwars said:

I had to look up to see if they're still issued:  https://www.americanexpress.com/us/travel/travelers-cheques/

 

They are. Anyone use them for anything?

 

I remember at my first job at Taco Bell, that we accepted them. From what I recall, the customer filled one out and signed it, we asked to see their ID, we gave them their poison, I mean food, and change in cash. They were rarely used as payment, but we took them, and deposited them at the bank like a check.

 

 

 

Wow ... I suppose the insurance against theft or loss aspect still holds some appeal.  I just don't think that much about taking $500 or $1000 in cash on an international trip and charging most every purchase (w/ ATM fallback for local currency at relatively reasonable rates at an airport).

 

Maybe a consideration for the next time I'm headed to Zaire (Congo)??

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AXP has travelers CHEQUES...c'mon man!

 

That being said...I've considered them on a few trips, but its probably been 30 years since I actually used one. 

 

When Dad passed, we found a few thousand dollars worth in places where he kept other travel-related documents (to include the passport). 

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My grandparents and parents used to use those when going on vacations. I recall back then they only had gas credit cards - Amoco and Union 76 come to mind as they were to dominant gas stations in the Chicagoland area back then (1970s) and they didn't have MasterCharge or BankAmericards as those had significant annual fees back then and grandfather refused to pay for one, and in the case of my parents they probably didn't qualify for one.

 

...and now you know where I get my anti-AF stance.

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4 hours ago, IndyPoolPlayer said:

My grandparents and parents used to use those when going on vacations. I recall back then they only had gas credit cards - Amoco and Union 76 come to mind as they were to dominant gas stations in the Chicagoland area back then (1970s) and they didn't have MasterCharge or BankAmericards as those had significant annual fees back then and grandfather refused to pay for one, and in the case of my parents they probably didn't qualify for one.

 

...and now you know where I get my anti-AF stance.

 

Genetics. 😛

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WOW!

I'm shocked they still issue them. I assumed they stopped issuing them for AML/CTR reasons. I can only imagine the look on a bank clerk's face if I walked into a branch and tried to cash one for $100 dollars.

I may get one just to do that very thing and see the reaction in person.

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I remember using them around 1972 traveling on business. At the time they were usable at places that didn't take credit cards. Come to think of it, I didn't have a credit card in 1972.  Don't think I used them after 1973 when I got a BankAmericard followed by an Amex Gold around 1976.  To bad I didn't keep the Amex. Would look good on a credit report.

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I’m surprised they still offer them. The one and only time I used them was on a sponsored trip to D.C. where everything was covered besides souvenirs/incidentals and I was just barely too young for a credit card. 
 

I can’t imagine the reaction I would get if I tried to use them today. Would most cashiers even know what they are (based on average age of cashiers)?

Edited by Second Chances
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  • 4 weeks later...

Traveller's checks - er - Cheques, in the case of the Gold Standard (American Express) - are an interesting throwback to the olden days of civilized and bloody expensive travel.  

 

What is still good about them is they are insured, so you get your money back if they are lost or stolen.  So bringing a bunch of them along on a trip as emergency money could still be useful.  After the trip, you can simply deposit them in your bank (if you have a good bank i.e. not BofA, WF, and their ilk, I mean a good local bank who knows you), or, you can redeem them online with American Express and they will ACH the money to your bank.  

 

I recall the olden days when there were American Express offices in nearly every city in the world.  They were almost like embassies.  Whatever your language, they spoke it.  One could always cash traveler's cheques, or a personal check, for no fee.  Help was available.  I don't think AmEx has offices like that anymore.  Sigh.  But then again, credit cards weren't ubiquitous then as they are today.  And there were no ATMs for cash.  Imagine that, kids!  Imagine being halfway around the world, with no way to get cash.  If you ran out, or it was stolen, you'd have to call someone at home - assuming you had some money left for the very expensive long-distance call (think $20+ in today's money) - and have them wire cash to you at a Western Union office.  If it was a weekend and that someone at home didn't have any cash handy, you'd wait until Monday.  If you didn't have someone at home, you were f###ed.  That's how it was.

 

These days, during a trip, I imagine one could redeem traveler's cheques at the front desk if one were staying at a major chain like Hyatt, Hilton, etc.  Fees?  Unknown.  But in an emergency, a few per cent is the least of one's problems.

 

My emergency strategy in today's world is leaving at least one credit card plus my bank ATM card in the safe in my hotel room.  If my wallet gets stolen, at least I have that.  I withdraw local currency at the airport upon my arrival.  My bank converts my dollars to the local currency at the standard bank rate, and reimburses me for any foreign ATM fees (again, use a good bank -they'll do that).  

 

For emergencies, I carry 10 crisp US C-Notes, plus the equivalent of USD 500 in local currency.  That's enough to get me through the night until American Express overnights me a new Platinum Card that I can use to get home.   I suppose I could use AmEx traveller's cheques in place of the green cash, but $1,500 really isn't all that much. Back in the olden days before credit cards and ATMs everywhere, it was not uncommon to travel with the equivalent of $10K or more in hand.  Think about it - credit cards were not widely accepted as they are today.  Only the major international chain hotels, car rental agencies, and expensive restaurants accepted them.  Everything else was cash only.  At that time, carrying safe, insured traveller's cheques made a lot of sense.  The money aspect of travelling is much, much easier now.  

 

 

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Even if one finds a place that still technically accepts them, good luck expecting the person on the other side of the counter to know what they are, and how to handle them.

 

I think there might be a few odd ball Amex travel offices left, but not many.

 

Like others have said. ATM's, proliferation of credit cards, and the internet in general have changed the business dynamic.

 

I remember in the 90's when OTA's like Priceline, etc. came into being. Many travel agencies went hungry and went under.

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Posted (edited)

I'm unsure about physical American Express offices anymore, but a lot of Amex travel agencies show up doing a Google search. Maybe these travel agencies have some sort of agreement with Amex if someone shows up who has lost everything.

 

I remember a long time ago there used to be some American Express ATMs at LAX airport (and others) that were capable of dispensing travelers checks. They've gone the way of the dinosaur.

Edited by Burgerwars
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Well, they aren't as redeemable as they used to be. Going to Las Vegas, Nevada? Bank of America is the one ubiquitous place to cash them. Wal-Mart will do it, but for purchases only. There is a small bank - "East-West Bank" that also does it. 

In Berlin, Germany? Reisebank AG is the one big redeemer and there is one other place that will do it.

In an old stomping ground of mine - 'Po City', aka - Olongapo, Zambales, the P.I.: there is one hotel that will do it for guests. Otherwise you're going to have to get to a BPI facility in Makati City over 60 kilometers away. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, insolent1 said:

Who recalls this guy?

spacer.png
 

 

 

He's still alive on YouTube reminding you to "ask for "American Express by name." If they're not American Express travelers checks, according to the commercials, and you lose your travelers checks while in Paris, or on the Orient Express, you're basically screwed.

Edited by Burgerwars
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, insolent1 said:

Well, they aren't as redeemable as they used to be. Going to Las Vegas, Nevada? Bank of America is the one ubiquitous place to cash them. Wal-Mart will do it, but for purchases only. There is a small bank - "East-West Bank" that also does it. 

In Berlin, Germany? Reisebank AG is the one big redeemer and there is one other place that will do it.

In an old stomping ground of mine - 'Po City', aka - Olongapo, Zambales, the P.I.: there is one hotel that will do it for guests. Otherwise you're going to have to get to a BPI facility in Makati City over 60 kilometers away. 

 

I forgot when it was, but I had some old American Express $20 travelers checks collecting dust in my safe deposit box. I decided to just make them out to myself, endorse them, and stick them in an envelope in a Wells Fargo Bank ATM (when you needed envelopes, instead of the way checks are scanned at an ATM now). 

They were credited to my checking account. Easy-peasy. I don't know how it will work now. I have no travelers checks left to try.

Edited by Burgerwars
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I was talking today to a friend who was part of the jet set in the 60’s, and well into the 80’s.  He remembers well using both travelers cheques and the classic green card. 
 

Remembers many occasions where a place would take the cheque, but not the card......aka no imprinter available. Also the Amex brand, was almost as recognizable as Pan Am and Coca-Cola. Even in the middle of nowhere, in some remote third world hole, an Amex travelers cheque was as good as gold. 

 

Now anyone with a moderate pulse can get in with Amex
 

 

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My sister's husband passed away in 2018 and later (2020) while she was going through some of his paperwork, found several thousand dollars worth of AMEX travelers cheques. They were purchased in 2015 prior to his cancer returning and he had never mentioned them. She called AMEX, and after a fair amount of aggravation and supporting documents sent to them, they gave her the money for them. Apparently, they don't expire .....

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On 4/18/2021 at 12:34 AM, muso said:

Traveller's checks - er - Cheques, in the case of the Gold Standard (American Express) - are an interesting throwback to the olden days of civilized and bloody expensive travel.  

 

[...]

 

 

 

Thank you so much for sharing this. I never imagined travel being that risky!

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On 4/20/2021 at 3:17 AM, morehelp said:

My sister's husband passed away in 2018 and later (2020) while she was going through some of his paperwork, found several thousand dollars worth of AMEX travelers cheques. They were purchased in 2015 prior to his cancer returning and he had never mentioned them. She called AMEX, and after a fair amount of aggravation and supporting documents sent to them, they gave her the money for them. Apparently, they don't expire .....

 

 

My brain works in odd ways, and your post reminded me of something.  I knew there was an American Express commercial where Karl Malden told people they can save their American Express travelers checks for emergencies or unexpected expenses.  This obviously benefited American Express as it increased the amount of travelers checks that may never be redeemed.  I'm sure this encouraged some people to do things like stick travelers checks in their safe deposit boxes and forget about them.

 

I found the commercial:     

 

 

 

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On 4/18/2021 at 10:13 AM, insolent1 said:

Well, they aren't as redeemable as they used to be. Going to Las Vegas, Nevada? Bank of America is the one ubiquitous place to cash them. Wal-Mart will do it, but for purchases only. There is a small bank - "East-West Bank" that also does it. 

In Berlin, Germany? Reisebank AG is the one big redeemer and there is one other place that will do it.

In an old stomping ground of mine - 'Po City', aka - Olongapo, Zambales, the P.I.: there is one hotel that will do it for guests. Otherwise you're going to have to get to a BPI facility in Makati City over 60 kilometers away. 

Apparently you can redeem them online:  https://www.americanexpress.com/us/travel/travelers-cheques/ 

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