Do Travelers Checks Ever Expire?

Do Travelers Checks Ever Expire?

One of the safest ways to travel the world, still, is by using traveler’s checks. These financial instruments can be cashed at nearly any bank in the world, and major retailers around the world often accept them — and return them for cash. In addition, these checks are safe and secure; they come with copies that make it easy to replace them if lost or stolen, and usually the distributor — in general, either Visa or American Express — offers round-the-clock customer service. Best of all, these checks never expire.

No Expiration

Traveler’s checks never expire. This means that you can use them on a trip abroad, save any remaining checks — in a safe location, such as a safety deposit box — and then bring them on any subsequent trips. In addition, if your checks are old and damaged, you can either cash them in for the face value or call the issuer to replace it. Make sure to always keep the check copies for verification.

Eliminating Checks

If you recently returned from a trip and do not expect to take another one for a while, you may want to consider cashing them in and putting the money in an interest-bearing account. While the checks never expire, they also do not help you financially. Traveler’s checks will not earn interest or mature past their face value, unlike safety deposit bonds. If you exchange these checks for cash, you have the opportunity to deposit the money into an account that could earn interest.

Death

Traveler’s checks don’t expire even when the holder of such checks dies. According to the New York Comptroller’s Office, traveler’s checks become part of the deceased’s estate as unclaimed funds. Therefore, it is up to the surviving members of the family — and those mentioned in the will — to sort out the unclaimed funds in probate court.

Other Options

One option, particularly attractive if you are a frequent traveler, is to hold onto your checks. Obtaining new traveler’s checks incurs new fees and is a hassle, so keeping old checks might be best for the frequent flier. Another option is to donate the old traveler’s checks to a charity. The original check holder must sign each traveler’s check before it can be cashed by the charity.

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Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor’s degree in English from Clark University.

Pros and cons of using travelers checks when going abroad

Woman taking selfie in front of Eiffel Tower

When traveling abroad, it’s important that you are able to buy the goods and services you need with as few hurdles as possible.

  • Paper-based money is accepted at most places, but it could lose value every time you exchange it. While there may be ATMs available that allow you to take out small amounts of cash each day, you could be charged withdrawal fees, especially if the bank is not your own. In addition, you run the risk of your cash being lost or stolen.
  • Although using a credit card when traveling abroad is a popular option, not all merchants accept plastic. Those that do might only take chip cards. However, credit cards do have more of an advantage when it comes to fraud protection and liability coverage.

In between these two payment options are travelers checks (a.k.a. cheques). Although not ideal in all circumstances, travelers checks can offer some important benefits. Before diving into the pros and cons of travelers checks, it’s important to understand what they are and how they work.

What is a travelers check?

Travelers checks are a medium of exchange designed for the express purpose of foreign travel. Prior to an upcoming trip, would-be travelers can visit a local bank, AAA, or travel agency to purchase these checks, with most travelers check denominations ranging from $20 at the lower end to $1,000 at the higher end.

Once abroad, you can either:

  • Use these checks to make purchases at participating hotels or retail stores
  • Exchange your checks for cash in the local currency at participating banks or check cashing agencies

Because every check carries a unique serial number, they’re insured against theft and loss. If a traveler loses a check, the original bank can cancel it and issue a replacement to be picked up at a local bank or travel agency in the destination country.

Advantages of travelers checks

One of the main advantages of using travelers checks is that they are easy to cancel or replace. If your wallet is stolen, you can receive replacement checks — provided that you still have the serial numbers of the missing ones.

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This is in sharp contrast to cash, because when it’s gone…it’s gone, and credit cards can be difficult to replace when overseas.

Another advantage is that travelers checks are indirectly accepted everywhere. Simply convert your check into cash, and you now have enough local currency to buy whatever you need.

Travelers checks may also carry lower fees than credit cards do — but be prepared to pay slightly higher exchange rates.

Challenges of using travelers checks

One of the main challenges of using travelers checks could be the ability to exchange them. This might not seem like a big deal as you’re preparing for your trip, but imagine landing in a foreign city late at night and not being able to exchange your travelers checks into usable cash.

Despite the time of day you arrive, travelers checks aren’t accepted everywhere. Many smaller towns may not have services that can convert checks into money.

Another challenge is keeping track of all of the serial numbers of each check in the event that you need to cancel or replace them. It’s important you keep those numbers separate from your wallet. While this may not be a deal breaker for you, it’s definitely something to consider as you plan your trip.

Travelers checks typically carry less competitive exchange rates than what credit cards offer. It can be difficult to determine the best amount for each stop, so consider requesting travelers checks in the smallest denominations possible.

Are travelers checks right for your trip?

While travelers checks may not seem practical — especially at a time when ATMs and credit card terminals are so popular worldwide — they can provide additional insurance against the loss or theft of other payment types.

Since travelers checks don’t expire, whatever amount you don’t use can be exchanged for US dollars at your local bank when you return home. Once you know how to use travelers checks safely and correctly, there’s no reason not to have a few on-hand for your next trip.

Do Travelers Checks Ever Expire?

Do Travelers Checks Ever Expire?

One of the safest ways to travel the world, still, is by using traveler’s checks. These financial instruments can be cashed at nearly any bank in the world, and major retailers around the world often accept them — and return them for cash. In addition, these checks are safe and secure; they come with copies that make it easy to replace them if lost or stolen, and usually the distributor — in general, either Visa or American Express — offers round-the-clock customer service. Best of all, these checks never expire.

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No Expiration

Traveler’s checks never expire. This means that you can use them on a trip abroad, save any remaining checks — in a safe location, such as a safety deposit box — and then bring them on any subsequent trips. In addition, if your checks are old and damaged, you can either cash them in for the face value or call the issuer to replace it. Make sure to always keep the check copies for verification.

Eliminating Checks

If you recently returned from a trip and do not expect to take another one for a while, you may want to consider cashing them in and putting the money in an interest-bearing account. While the checks never expire, they also do not help you financially. Traveler’s checks will not earn interest or mature past their face value, unlike safety deposit bonds. If you exchange these checks for cash, you have the opportunity to deposit the money into an account that could earn interest.

Death

Traveler’s checks don’t expire even when the holder of such checks dies. According to the New York Comptroller’s Office, traveler’s checks become part of the deceased’s estate as unclaimed funds. Therefore, it is up to the surviving members of the family — and those mentioned in the will — to sort out the unclaimed funds in probate court.

Other Options

One option, particularly attractive if you are a frequent traveler, is to hold onto your checks. Obtaining new traveler’s checks incurs new fees and is a hassle, so keeping old checks might be best for the frequent flier. Another option is to donate the old traveler’s checks to a charity. The original check holder must sign each traveler’s check before it can be cashed by the charity.

Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor’s degree in English from Clark University.

Source https://pocketsense.com/travelers-checks-ever-expire-9641.html

Source https://blog.clover.com/pros-and-cons-of-travelers-checks/

Source https://pocketsense.com/travelers-checks-ever-expire-9641.html

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