If you have travelled internationally recently, you may have been surprised to discover the decrease in shops and outlets that accept traveller’s checks for payment.
Decline in Traveller’s Cheques
If you’ve ever carried traveller’s cheques while abroad, you know how stressful that can be. Travel agents recommend that you not keep all of your traveller’s cheques on your person in the case of loss or robbery. However, keeping them in your luggage can pose a problem in the instance of lost or stolen luggage. And the things just don’t fit easily into a wallet!
Not only can traveller’s cheques pose some inconveniences for travellers, shopkeepers are growing more reluctant to accept them as well. Fact is, traveller’s cheques are easily replicated, and traveller’s cheques fraud and scams are on the rise. Understandably, business owners are increasingly leery when it comes to accepting those little pieces of paper that (hopefully) represent real money.
There is one international currency company in particular, Travelex, that stopped creating traveller’s cheques entirely in 2008. This was due to the fact that consumers were using them less and less and because many retailers in Europe were no longer accepting them as currency. Rebecca Phipps, the vice-president of North American sales for Travelex said, “We saw a decline in sales of traveller’s cheques and decline in acceptance by merchants. We saw the future in credit cards and in cash.”
Increase in Credit Card Security
When credit cards first came out, there was a fair bit of fear associated with their use. Cardholders worried (and rightly so) that their credit card could easily be stolen and used by anyone with a decent ability to forge their signature. It seemed that, oftentimes, crooks could even just use your credit card number in order to commit fraud and steal your money.
Now, however, fraud is much more unlikely. The majority of retailers now insist on viewing a piece of photo identification in order to process a credit card payment. And now, with the advent of the “chip” cards, their use is presumed even more secure because the user must know the PIN number in order to process the transaction. Read more about some of the credit cards to use overseas.
In addition, virtually all credit cards offer consumer protection plans that are safeguards for the consumer, protecting the merchant as well. The added security that comes with fraud insurance puts the minds of business owners and travellers alike at ease.
Other Credit Card Benefits
A supreme benefit to using credit cards instead of a traveller’s cheque is that you are able to make the purchase in the currency of the country in which you are currently located. The conversion is done on their end and is reflected in your statement, most often with no added service fees for the currency conversion.
Not only that, but Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted at literally millions of locations around the world. This is a tremendous convenience and an added benefit for the traveller. You can never be sure who still accepts traveller’s cheques these days, but few shopkeepers will turn away a credit card.
While travelling, however, you will want to take some precautionary measures to ensure that you have full use of your credit cards. It’s worth contacting your credit card provider prior to your trip and inform them of your travel plans. Not only will you be able to ensure that your card will work wherever you’re travelling, but you will assure yourself ease of use. Informing the card company in advance alerts them of your intended trip so that your card will not be flagged for suspicious activity and temporarily frozen (just another great safety feature of credit cards).
The Bottom Line
Traveller’s cheques are on the endangered species list, edging closer toward extinction each day. Credit cards, on the other hand, are prolific like bunnies, with hundreds of new ones cropping up daily. While we have a natural tendency to resist change when it first comes, human nature dictates that we all eventually go with the crowd. And the crowd is demanding credit cards as the payment option of choice for international travel.