Although many travelers use credit and debit cards almost exclusively when they travel, traveler's checks still have a number of advantages. In fact, even for travelers who prefer to carry credit and debit cards, taking along traveler's checks is a smart strategy. There are instances where credit and debit cards will not fit the bill on the road, while traveler's checks can do the job well.
Traveler's checks are viewed as a cash equivalent, which means they can be readily exchanged for hard currency. In addition, if traveler's checks are issued in the local currency, they can be exchanged on a one-to-one basis. There is no guessing what the exchange rate will be, however. Also, it is difficult to obtain cash from a credit card or even a debit card, except at an ATM.
Low Tech, All Hours
While ATMs generally provide a better exchange rate than traveler's checks, this is only true when an ATM is available. If you are traveling off the beaten path, you may find yourself someplace without an ATM or even a functioning bank. Traveler's checks with a major brand name are likely to be accepted without question, even if the exchange rate is less than advantageous.
Safety and Service
When properly recorded, most traveler's checks are 100 percent guaranteed against loss or theft. They can often be replaced within 24 hours, nearly anywhere in the world at no cost. Traveler's assistance, including passport replacement and other travel-related services, is often included as part of the package with a purchase of traveler's checks. Credit cards do offer guarantees against unauthorized usage, but not at the level offered by traveler's checks.
Article Written By Chris Blank
Chris Blank is an independent writer and research consultant with more than 20 years' experience. Blank specializes in social policy analysis, current events, popular culture and travel. His work has appeared both online and in print publications. He holds a Master of Arts in sociology and a Juris Doctor.