Traveler's Checks - what the heck are these things about?

@maezee (30927)
United States
February 18, 2012 9:57am CST
A regular customer at my job (as I am slacking at work right now) just asked if he could give me a $100 Traveler's Check to pay for his items. His order only came to $23, but the Traveler's Check was already made out for $100. I have never, in my life, seen anything like this before. He said it was like an ordinary check - but when he showed it to me - it definitely WAS NOT! I'm just wondering - does the business YOU work for accept Traveler's Checks? I know that we accept regular checks, but these things are NOT regular checks! And then when happens if you do take a Traveler's Check, that is made out for $100, but the balance due is only like $20? Do you give back the rest in money? I didn't end up accepting it because I was so confused by it.... Any ideas?
4 responses
@stary1 (6622)
• United States
19 Feb 12
Years ago I used travelers checks when vacationing but now credit cards are easier. I wonder if he was upset about your refusing to cash it considering he was a regular customer? Still if he was a good person he would understand you were not familiar with these checks..
@smacksman (6074)
19 Feb 12
I think you hit the nail on the head there, stary1, considering he was a regular customer. What was a regular customer doing cashing traveller cheques? he's not a traveller! haha If he was local why didn't he just pay with a credit card or cash? Looks fishy to me.
@stary1 (6622)
• United States
20 Feb 12
smacksman ..Maybe.... but looking at it from all angles, perhaps he just got back from a vacation and all he had was travelers checks and needed something?? Also why would a regulatar customer try to 'pull a fast one' ..unless he didn't plan to be a regular customer anymore..
@smacksman (6074)
18 Feb 12
Before credit cards were around, travellers cheques were the safest way to travel with 'cash'. The advantage they have is that you can get them in a foreign currency and all conversion costs are done when you buy them so a hundred bucks is a hundred bucks; no exchange rate; no 2.5% for credit card transaction; no extra charges. When you pick them up at the bank you have to sign each cheque in front of the teller and they have to check that signature against your identity like a passport. When to go to a hotel or shop to use the travellers cheque you have to sign the cheque again, in front of the sales person and again, produce proof of identity, and again, a passport is best because it has a photo and a signature. In my experience it was always best to cash travellers cheques in a bank or in a hotel. Trying to do it outside a tourist area was often a recepie for trouble. You did right to refuse the transaction.
@stary1 (6622)
• United States
19 Feb 12
smacksman ..LOL isn't it interesting how technology has changed so much..I haven't even thought of travelers checks for years because most of us use credit cards now...
@maximax8 (27045)
19 Feb 12
I used travelers checks on my trip around Europe when I was eighteen years old. I went to a bank, showed my passport and then cashes one or more of my travelers checks. I had some twenties, some fifties and some hundreds. I think the customer at your job wanted to give you one hundred dollars travelers check for just twenty three dollars. I think that he wanted change in cash. When I traveled to America the first time I used travelers checks. It was accepted in most shops and I had to give the right amount.
@owlwings (38642)
• Cambridge, England
18 Feb 12
On the whole you were right not to accept it because there are so many scams associated with Travellers Checks: see here: http://usa.visa.com/personal/using_visa/visa_travelers_cheques.html That is not to say, of course, that Travellers Checks are always a scam - usually they are not. They are a very good way of carrying large amounts of money around safely, provided that all the safeguards are observed, and are certainly less easy to cash if they are stolen than, for example, a $100 bill. Unfortunately, regular customer or not, I would have been very suspicious and wary of taking the check under the circumstances. Travellers checks are not usually negotiable as currency, that is to say that they are issued to one person and that person has to sign the check and verify the signature independently (usually by comparing it with their signature in a passport). Generally, this is done through a bank. Although some shops (especially in tourist areas) will accept Travellers Checks, their staff will have been briefed about the dangers and will know how to verify the validity of the check. They will also probably have an agreement with their own bank that Travellers Checks can be accepted as cash.