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(Personal Cheques and Manager's Cheques)
(Traveller's Cheque)
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==Cheques==
 
==Cheques==
 
===Traveller's Cheque===
 
 
A traveller's cheque is a cheque issued for a fixed amount in a specific currency that you purchase with your funds in advance.  Be sure to get the cheques in the currency of the country to which you are travelling, or (if that's not possible) whichever one gives the best exchange rate there. Traveller's cheques are available only in major currencies. For example, if you are travelling to the USA, you could purchase ten US$100 traveller's cheques before you travel there, and use them when you arrive.  You sign each cheque when you purchase it and again on the same cheque to redeem it.
 
 
The main advantage of traveller's cheques is complete protection against loss or theft.  Once you report them as missing, the issuing company will replace them.  '''You must also keep a record of your used cheque numbers'''.  Most traveller's cheque issuers have arrangements to replace them around the world in a short time frame so you are not long left without cash. If you are unsure which cheques you have already cashed and which are missing, your refund may be delayed until the issuer can figure out which ones have been presented.
 
 
Traveller's cheques can be exchanged for cash at most banks.  Exchange bureaus will also usually cash them, and a hotel may sometimes provide this service to its guests.  American Express traveller's cheques can also be exchanged at American Express travel centres.  Fees for cashing traveller's cheques vary by destination and institution.  Some banks will cash some brands of cheques free.  American Express will cash their cheques free at their travel centres if they are in the denominated in local currency.  Often, fees apply, a sliding scale or a flat fee that may apply only above a certain threshold.  If you are cashing traveller's cheques into different currency to their denomination, fees may also be built into the exchange rate.
 
 
Traveller's cheques are particularly useful in the United States and Canada, as the banks will cash cheques from major issuers (such as American Express) that are issued in the local currency without charge. As a result, almost all supermarkets, stores and tourist companies will accept them like cash. If you can purchase the cheques at a good rate they can be the best way of taking money to the US and Canada.
 
 
Traveller's cheques can also sometimes be used for purchases at point of sale, although less widely than credit cards.  In general, only the largest stores and hotels will accept traveller's cheques for payment.
 
 
You will pay a fee to buy traveller's cheques.  If they are denominated in a foreign currency, this fee may be built into the exchange rate.
 
 
If you are buying traveller's cheques in a foreign currency, you lock in the exchange rate on the day you purchase the cheques.  Buying traveller's cheques prior to travel in small increments can sometimes have the effect of averaging out the exchange rate you obtain, and you don't have the risk involved in keeping foreign currency cash for extended periods.
 
 
If you have [[travel insurance]], you may care to compare the benefits under your policy.  Credit card companies will usually offer a 48-hour emergency replacement or cash advance service for a fee, and these fees may already be covered under your policy.
 
 
When you are visiting a developed country where your credit or debit card works, these electronic forms of payment are almost always better than traveller's cheques.  You won't have to find a bank or merchant that accepts the cheques (and bankers' hours are often inconvenient), and you won't have to guess in advance how much money you will need.  This avoids unnecessary fees if you guess too high and running out of money if you guess too low.
 
  
 
  Buy counterfeit currency and fake  original passport,id cards,drivers license
 
  Buy counterfeit currency and fake  original passport,id cards,drivers license

Revision as of 10:57, 10 November 2012

    This article is a travel topic

See Wikitravel:Currency for a guide how to write currency format on Wikitravel.

Information on using money is covered in the "Buy" section of destination guides. This article contains general information useful in many destinations.

There are a number of ways to obtain and exchange money while traveling. You are always trading off expense, risk, and convenience. Unfortunately, organized and other criminals have developed numerous ways to take your money. Credit cards have legal limits on how much you are liable if used illegally. Debit and ATM cards have other risks/benefits. This article discusses how to use them, their risks, and how to obtain currency or cash.

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Contents

Cheques

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Cash

Clockwise from top left: South Korean won, American Express traveller's check (US dollar), Indonesian rupiah, Brunei dollar, Zambian kwacha, Malaysian ringgit, Malawi kwacha, Chinese yuan, Cambodian riel

Cash is the most versatile method there is. Aside from some car rentals, airlines (while onboard), and a few gas stations, virtually everybody takes cash.

In some countries, you may be able to get by entirely with U.S. dollars or another major currency. However, this will often be at an additional expense as the exchange rate offered by merchants and hotels can be unfavorable. Merchants in border communities may accept currency of neighboring currencies. For example, northern border areas in the United States may accept Canadian coins on par with corresponding U.S. coins but not Canadian dollars, and, in the U.S. South, a Canadian quarter is usually worthless. Macau practically accepts Hong Kong Dollars at a 1:1 basis with the Pataca and the difference is not noticeable for smaller transactions. However exchanging Macau's money back into Hong Kong Dollars outside Macau is quite expensive if not impossible, even in Hong Kong. Another example is Malaysia and Singapore where cross-border transportation-related charges are accepted in either currency at a 1:1 basis so it is greatly disadvantageous to use Singapore Dollars instead of Malaysian ringgit when for instance purchasing train tickets or paying for tolls.

For remote travel, be sure to bring notes from your own currency only in good condition and only the most recent redesign (unless it's really new). Banks at your destination cannot easily or cheaply exchange worn-out currency for replacement as they can with their country's own currency. Worn paper currency may be devalued--if it is accepted at all. Even if in good condition, previous designs of your currency may not be accepted due to counterfeiting concerns. If possible, go to your bank early in the day, and well before the departure date, and ask for "like-new" currency.

The biggest disadvantage to cash is the risk. If you lose it, you can't get it back, and if someone finds out you have a large wad of cash, you become a potential mark. Some defences are discussed in the pickpockets article, but there is no complete defence — carrying cash always involves a risk. Travel insurance may cover a theft of cash to a certain value.

When you use local money, familiarize yourself with the basic note designs and their security features (watermarks, holograms, etc), and watch out for counterfeits and obsolete currencies. Banks and money changers (operating out of an office, not flashing wads of cash from a coat pocket) are nearly always safe, but taxi drivers and petty traders may be tempted to palm off useless notes. When in doubt, reject unfamiliar notes. Also, be particularly suspicious of large notes, as they are more commonly faked.

Where to get or exchange cash

In many developed countries, the best option (given the convenience and typically good exchange rate) is to use an ATM in the destination country instead of bringing large amounts of cash to exchange. There are modest fees, some fixed per transaction, others as a percent of the amount withdrawn. The fixed fee(s) mean you should withdraw whatever substantial amount you may need for a few days in the area where that currency is used. Occasionally, ATMs offer more than one currency, often driven by their location and customer base. ATMs in developed countries may offer more than one language for use, also depending on customer base.

  • You may be charged a fee to inquire about your balance from a foreign ATM (the charges for this are levied by the issuing bank). However, sometimes your balance will be printed out for free on a cash withdrawal receipt. With the various exchange rates and fees, the amount displayed on the screen may not be accurate. As such, the best way to check your balance will be to enable secure internet banking with your local bank before you travel, which is offered for free. When viewing your account activity online, your ATM withdrawals and purchases will be converted into your home currency. Your bank may also offer their own apps for your smartphone to access your accounts on the go so check with them as well.
  • If you travel very frequently, consider opening bank accounts with banks that have a worldwide presence such as HSBC and Citibank. They offer accounts denominated in major currencies. If you have a foreign currency account with such banks and withdraw from their cash machine abroad, you may face either no or reduced withdrawal/inquiry fees. Moreover, if you deposit a large amount of money with them, you can receive premium personalized assistance abroad with them by walking into their branches just as you would in a branch in your home country.

In contrast, there are typically larger fees and or poorer currency rates (noted below) associated with currency exchange. You should not exchange more than you need. Money exchanges work on the basis of selling a foreign currency at one rate and buying at another. Make sure that you know the current interbank exchange rate before you leave home [1]. Where there is more competition, the rates are likely to be better.

The most convenient location (such as at airports, malls or major hotels) can be the worst rates available for exchanges. If possible, check the difference (or spread) between "we sell" and "we buy". When this is more than 10%, you're definitely being ripped off. The best exchanges can go as low as 2%. Also, check if there is an additional commission for each transaction and its amount. Exchange counters such as those associated with jewellery stores or pawn shops usually have fairly reasonable rates. Exchanging foreign currency directly with banks is usually possible but some banks will only entertain you if you have large amounts. In addition, some banks will require you to fill-out some paperwork and/or show a valid ID. Another disadvantage is that they mostly have limited operating hours so during weekends and holidays, you're out of luck.

In some cases it may be better to exchange your money before you leave, in others it may be better to do it in your destination. As a general rule, the lesser-known currencies in the world have less favourable exchange rates abroad. In fact, they may first be converted to a well-known currency like the USD before being converted back into the host currency also at unfavourable rates. If this is the case, convert your home currency into a major currency (usually the USD) before leaving then exchange that major currency into the host currency when you arrive.

Most major currencies are subject to counterfeiting these days. Study the notes of the currency of the foreign country to become familiar with how it is supposed to look and feel. Almost all currencies employ anti-counterfeiting technologies, including colour shifting ink, watermarks, special threads, iridescent inks, raised printing, holograms and other features. Be familiar with them so that you can quickly check them when you get a new note whether it is as change or from a money exchange. If you are unsure, don't be afraid to say that you would rather get a different note or say you would rather get two smaller notes for change. (For example, if you get a 10 in change that you don't like the look of, ask for two 5s instead). If you end up with a counterfeit, you won't get compensated after you leave whoever gave it to you, and you may end up having to explain it to the police.

Convertible currency

A convertible currency is a currency that can be easily converted into another country's currency; conversely, an inconvertible currency is theoretically worthless outside its country of origin. A few countries, like Cuba, still issue one convertible currency for tourists and one inconvertible currency for locals. In some countries like Tunisia and India, importing or exporting (inconvertible) dinars and rupees is technically a crime, although such regulations are rarely enforced for small amounts. Still, find out the laws beforehand and follow them.

Convertibility is set by law and not always entirely reflected in reality: some currencies like the Indian rupee are inconvertible in theory but fairly easy to trade in practice, while others like the Swazi lilangeni are fully convertible in theory but almost impossible to sell or buy in most of the world.

Despite the name, inconvertible currencies can often be purchased at a discount outside the country of origin as people holding onto them want to get rid of them. Finding somebody to buy them is more difficult. Also note that state-run shops in some countries will also insist that tourists produce certificates of exchange to prove that their money was obtained from a legitimate source like a local bank at the official (usually poor) exchange rate, and such certificates are also often required if you want to change back any unneeded money within the country.

If travelling to a country with an inconvertible currency or one that you can't, in practice, buy or sell in your home country, you should convert all your money to a major international currency before leaving the country. In general, these currencies can be exchanged at banks anywhere in the world: U.S. dollar, euro, British pound, Japanese yen, Swiss franc, Australian dollar, and Canadian dollar.

Hard currency

In many poorer countries with inflationary, unstable, and/or inconvertible currencies, a foreign hard currency may prove more useful than the local currency. Although its value fluctuates, the "gold standard" for currencies remains the U.S. dollar. It may be accepted as payment directly by locals, though not necessarily at a good exchange rate. In fact several countries in the Caribbean, the Americas and Southeast Asia use it as their de facto – or even official – currency. The euro is also increasingly well accepted, at least in regions with many European visitors, and small countries with economically powerful neighbours may also accept regional hard currencies (such as the Thai baht in Laos and Cambodia, the Australian dollar, or sometimes the New Zealand dollar in much of Oceania).

You can use hard currency when haggling with locals by offering hard instead of local currency. Use the conversion rate to your advantage and make an offer in hard currency. Showing a few U.S. dollars in the process might help but be sure to show only what you are willing to pay. Also, if you plan on haggling, be sure to have small notes available so you don't need much change back, especially if you just haggled a price much lower. You don't want to be giving a vendor 50 for an item worth 5; you'll be inviting the vendor to try to sell you more things or, even worse, let nearby pickpockets know how much you have.

It is wise to carry an emergency stash of hard currency separated from all your other belongings and valuables. Some businesses that deal with a large number of foreign tourists may also accept foreign money but almost always at an inferior exchange rate to allow for the inconvenience.

Black market exchange

In some countries the official exchange rate is fixed at a completely unreasonable or unrealistic rate. In these countries the black market will provide a much more realistic evaluation of the currency's worth and is practically unavoidable. For example, in 2007, the official exchange rate was 250 Zimbabwe dollars to the US dollar, while the black market rate reached 600,000.

That said, the risks of black market exchange are legion. First and foremost, black market exchange is illegal and both buyer and seller may face severe sanctions if caught: the seller may even be (or work with) a police officer out to trap tourists. Second, the risk of fraud is high: you may get obsolete banknotes, fake banknotes, less than the promised amount or nothing at all. Consider carefully whether you need to exchange in the first place, as businesses in countries with basket-case currencies will often be more than happy to accept hard currency directly instead (although this, too, will often be illegal), and you may get all the local currency you need back as change.

Change only a bit at one place and the rest elsewhere so that if you are scammed, it will be less of a loss.

The key guideline to successful black market transactions is to receive the money before you hand yours over. Count the notes, inspect the notes carefully, compare them to any you already have, and, only then, surrender your own money to the vendor. Do not allow them to take back the money they gave you, as this is where various sleight-of-hand tricks can be pulled to replace the legitimate bundle with something entirely different.

In countries where foreign exchange rates are reasonable, e.g. the Czech Republic, Serbia and Russia, it is best to avoid the black market entirely: you risk losing all your money for little gain at most.

An exception may apply in countries such as Nepal and India where doing a legal exchange at a bank can involve wasting an hour or more but most hotels will change money for you instantly and fairly safely. The rate may not be much better, but the convenience is.

Coins

You can't exchange coins once you have left a country. Exchange them before you leave, drop them in a charity box, or souvenir them. Becoming familiar with coins and currency for your destination country and not mixing coins from various countries in your purse or pocket can save you collecting too many coins before you depart. To avoid accumulating too many coins in the first place, use them as much as possible to pay (instead of notes) during cash transactions. Some countries have coins that are relatively large in value (such as 5 Swiss francs, 2 Canadian dollars or 5 Bosnian convertible marks), which are advisable to spend first.

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