Member Advice on Money

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Review of "Member Advice on Money"

published 08/09/2006 | Kazzay
Member since : 31/07/2003
Reviews : 18
Members who trust : 8
About me :
Satisfactory
Pro No one will steal them
Cons You can't get rid of them yourself!
very helpful

"Travellers Cheques and why not to use them."

Having been on holiday recently to Barcelona in Spain the only thing that disrupted and upset us was something we'd bought with us from the UK: Traveller's Cheques! I'd now strongly suggest that if you're considering travelling in Europe that you do not use these as your source of money.

What they are:
The universally accepted safest and most convenient way of carrying money with you on holiday is the travellers cheque, designed to be available in all major world currencies, easy to use, refundable and accepted worldwide at thousands of locations. If you have any unused travellers cheques, you can keep them for your next trip and they are valid forever.

Why we chose to use them:
It was quite a debated subject before we went on holiday, should we take all Euros, rely on hole in the wall machines in the city or take Travellers cheques? We came to our decision to take a small amount of euros for travel with us and £500 in travellers cheques after looking at our own bank's web site to see how easy it would be to use ATMs and what charges there would be to use them.

According to Barclays' web site you: "pay no transaction charges when you use your debit card at cash machines belonging to our Global Alliance". Great, we thought, let's find out where the Global Alliance machines are, so we clicked on the link. This is where it began to be confusing, the information is vague, short and less than helpful but it seemed to indicate that in Spain the Deutsche Bank is in the Global Alliance. We then tried to use the "find a cash machine" link to see where they are in Barcelona but it somehow disappears on the next page so you have to do a further worldwide search which finally produces a list of banks which you're not sure if they're part of this Global Alliance or just banks that you can use your card at. The way we understood it was that there was only one Deutsche Bank machine you could use in Barcelona which doesn't charge a commission. I emailed Barclays to try and get some more information but was unhelpfully directed back to the pages I'd already told them I'd visited. There are of course other banks who provide more helpful information, Nationwide is one of them and we would have used them if we had opened our account with them in time. So all this led to us thinking that Travellers cheques would be much easier than relying on one bank machine, that might or might not be there or working.

When I ordered the cheques over the phone it was all very easy, so some credit to Barclays. I found the phone numner of their web site easily and was advised to order them in Euros by the staff as I told them I was going to Barcelona but was not given any further advice. They arrived the next day at a branch of my choosing which made it easy for me to pick them up. Also they offer them on a 0% commission basis and will take them back for no fee if you're a customer of theirs.

However, once in Spain it was not easy to exchange them without being ripped off! A whole morning of our honeymoon was unfortunately turned into a nightmare situation of going from one bank to another with these retched things! We read the information that comes with the cheques which advised us to sign each cheque but not to do the second signature until actually exchanging them. We then assumed that the best place to take them to would be a bank but were told again and again that it wasn't even possible. We knew we could change them at the tourist bureau de changes but knew there would be a high commission rate and assumed by taking them to a bank we would not incur such a high cost. We were tied because we can't speak Spanish so it was difficult to understand why we couldn't change them, but one teller did say it was because of the VISA sign and would have been changed if they were American Express?! We persevered through long queues and finally found one that was prepared to exchange them, but only 150 euros worth of them. I think it boils down to the fact that they don't make any commission on the cheques themselves so it's not worth their while. This bank in fact only charged us 1 euro for the exchange but we were still stuck with 600 euros to change and didn't relish the idea of going to the bank everyday to do this - and what if we needed more than that amount in one day? Eventually we were worn out, bickering and I felt awful because I was the one who had got the cheques in the first place so we decided to take them to a bureau de change outlet and see what their exchange rates were like. They ranged from 8% upwards to about 15% so we found the lowest one we could and changed the majority of the rest of our money up and ended up with a bit less holiday money. I don't feel that it's acceptable to pay roughly the equivalent of £40 to get at our own money.

To make matters worse we then hopped on a tourist bus which took us on a trip around Barcelona and guess what we saw? 2 Barclays banks on the way!! You can imagine our surprise that Barclays had been unable to provide this information either on their web site or when I had directly asked. We even went to one of the branches a few days later to change the remainder of our money which was a minor 100 euros and oh how easy it all was and of course free of charge. What a difference it would have made if we had had this information, which in this day and age is very easy to provide. I had tried my best to find out the locations of any ATMS or branches but the information was just not there (unless it was me).

I felt that this was a Barclays problem as much as a general problem with travellers cheques and have since written to the bank to express our annoyance at their lack of help. It doesn't change the fact though that unless you can find your own bank within a foreign city you will be unlikely to exchange cheques easily at a bank for a reasonable price and this totally opposes the universal view that this is the easiest way to carry money abroad. It's far easier to use you bank card these days even if there is a commission charge on top. I have since looked into it and found that it would probably be quite a small charge say £1.50 for every £100 withdrawn and is so much easier.

It was such unnecessary strain put on us and we felt that we had been stranded by our own bank. Travellers cheques obviously do have their pros, if they're stolen you are not out of pocket and the concept is excellent, (although I've never had the occasion to find out how easy it is to actually get your money back). They are available for 0% commission which is good and even better when you don't have a problem changing them, but unless the problem of where they can be exchanged is addressed they will remain out-moded, old fashioned and the least convenient option to use in today's travel.

20.09.06 - NB: Following my letter to Barclays they really surprised me by replying very promptly and as a goodwill gesture giving us £50 back for the amount of charges we paid! The reason they gave for this is that I should've been informed better of their banks in Barcelona when I rang to order the cheques, but they still haven't explained why it's not possible to change them at any other banks.

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This review was read 710 times and was rated at
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very helpful

Comments on this review

  • aestro published 10/12/2006
    I had heard things about travellers checks, but most was good feedback. I'll be sure never to use them after this! :-) xxx
  • Sally_Tims published 11/11/2006
    Good review. x
  • lise23 published 18/10/2006
    What a fantastic review, thanks very much, i'll def be carefull when going abroad now! x Lise
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Product Information : Member Advice on Money

Manufacturer's product description

Ciao

Listed on Ciao since: 03/10/2000

Member Advice on Money - Review - Travellers Cheques and why not to use them.

Kazzay 2

Kazzay

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About me:

Member since:31.07.2003

Reviews:18

Members who trust:8

Quote-start

Travellers Cheques and why not to use them.

Quote-end
08.09.2006 (20.09.2006)

Advantages:
No one will steal them

Disadvantages:
You can't get rid of them yourself !

Recommendable No:

25 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (6%):
  1. lise23
  2. nemesis2004
very helpful by (82%):
  1. gunner_mel
  2. tumblebiscuit
  3. aestro
and 24 other members
helpful by (12%):
  1. Sally_Tims
  2. sandemp
  3. Claiiiree
and a further member

View all ratings

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

Share this review on

Having been on holiday recently to Barcelona in Spain the only thing that disrupted and upset us was something we'd bought with us from the UK: Traveller's Cheques! I'd now strongly suggest that if you're considering travelling in Europe that you do not use these as your source of money.

What they are:
The universally accepted safest and most convenient way of carrying money with you on holiday is the travellers cheque, designed to be available in all major world currencies, easy to use, refundable and accepted worldwide at thousands of locations. If you have any unused travellers cheques, you can keep them for your next trip and they are valid forever.

Why we chose to use them:
It was quite a debated subject before we went on holiday, should we take all Euros, rely on hole in the wall machines in the city or take Travellers cheques? We came to our decision to take a small amount of euros for travel with us and 500 in travellers cheques after looking at our own bank's web site to see how easy it would be to use ATMs and what charges there would be to use them.

According to Barclays' web site you: "pay no transaction charges when you use your debit card at cash machines belonging to our Global Alliance". Great, we thought, let's find out where the Global Alliance machines are, so we clicked on the link. This is where it began to be confusing, the information is vague, short and less than helpful but it seemed to indicate that in Spain the Deutsche Bank is in the Global Alliance. We then tried to use the "find a cash machine" link to see where they are in Barcelona but it somehow disappears on the next page so you have to do a further worldwide search which finally produces a list of banks which you're not sure if they're part of this Global Alliance or just banks that you can use your card at. The way we understood it was that there was only one Deutsche Bank machine you could use in Barcelona which doesn't charge a commission. I emailed Barclays to try and get some more information but was unhelpfully directed back to the pages I'd already told them I'd visited. There are of course other banks who provide more helpful information, Nationwide is one of them and we would have used them if we had opened our account with them in time. So all this led to us thinking that Travellers cheques would be much easier than relying on one bank machine, that might or might not be there or working.

When I ordered the cheques over the phone it was all very easy, so some credit to Barclays. I found the phone numner of their web site easily and was advised to order them in Euros by the staff as I told them I was going to Barcelona but was not given any further advice. They arrived the next day at a branch of my choosing which made it easy for me to pick them up. Also they offer them on a 0% commission basis and will take them back for no fee if you're a customer of theirs.

However, once in Spain it was not easy to exchange them without being ripped off! A whole morning of our honeymoon was unfortunately turned into a nightmare situation of going from one bank to another with these retched things! We read the information that comes with the cheques which advised us to sign each cheque but not to do the second signature until actually exchanging them. We then assumed that the best place to take them to would be a bank but were told again and again that it wasn't even possible. We knew we could change them at the tourist bureau de changes but knew there would be a high commission rate and assumed by taking them to a bank we would not incur such a high cost. We were tied because we can't speak Spanish so it was difficult to understand why we couldn't change them, but one teller did say it was because of the VISA sign and would have been changed if they were American Express?! We persevered through long queues and finally found one that was prepared to exchange them, but only 150 euros worth of them. I think it boils down to the fact that they don't make any commission on the cheques themselves so it's not worth their while. This bank in fact only charged us 1 euro for the exchange but we were still stuck with 600 euros to change and didn't relish the idea of going to the bank everyday to do this - and what if we needed more than that amount in one day? Eventually we were worn out, bickering and I felt awful because I was the one who had got the cheques in the first place so we decided to take them to a bureau de change outlet and see what their exchange rates were like. They ranged from 8% upwards to about 15% so we found the lowest one we could and changed the majority of the rest of our money up and ended up with a bit less holiday money. I don't feel that it's acceptable to pay roughly the equivalent of 40 to get at our own money.

To make matters worse we then hopped on a tourist bus which took us on a trip around Barcelona and guess what we saw? 2 Barclays banks on the way!! You can imagine our surprise that Barclays had been unable to provide this information either on their web site or when I had directly asked. We even went to one of the branches a few days later to change the remainder of our money which was a minor 100 euros and oh how easy it all was and of course free of charge. What a difference it would have made if we had had this information, which in this day and age is very easy to provide. I had tried my best to find out the locations of any ATMS or branches but the information was just not there (unless it was me).

I felt that this was a Barclays problem as much as a general problem with travellers cheques and have since written to the bank to express our annoyance at their lack of help. It doesn't change the fact though that unless you can find your own bank within a foreign city you will be unlikely to exchange cheques easily at a bank for a reasonable price and this totally opposes the universal view that this is the easiest way to carry money abroad. It's far easier to use you bank card these days even if there is a commission charge on top. I have since looked into it and found that it would probably be quite a small charge say 1.50 for every 100 withdrawn and is so much easier.

It was such unnecessary strain put on us and we felt that we had been stranded by our own bank. Travellers cheques obviously do have their pros, if they're stolen you are not out of pocket and the concept is excellent, (although I've never had the occasion to find out how easy it is to actually get your money back). They are available for 0% commission which is good and even better when you don't have a problem changing them, but unless the problem of where they can be exchanged is addressed they will remain out-moded, old fashioned and the least convenient option to use in today's travel.

20.09.06 - NB: Following my letter to Barclays they really surprised me by replying very promptly and as a goodwill gesture giving us 50 back for the amount of charges we paid! The reason they gave for this is that I should've been informed better of their banks in Barcelona when I rang to order the cheques, but they still haven't explained why it's not possible to change them at any other banks.
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Comments about this review »

aestro 10.12.2006 18:36

I had heard things about travellers checks, but most was good feedback. I'll be sure never to use them after this! :-) xxx

Sally_Tims 11.11.2006 12:51

Good review. x

lise23 18.10.2006 00:48

What a fantastic review, thanks very much, i'll def be carefull when going abroad now! x Lise

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Review Ratings

This review of Member Advice on Money has been rated:

"exceptional" by (6%):

  1. lise23
  2. nemesis2004

"very helpful" by (82%):

  1. gunner_mel
  2. tumblebiscuit
  3. aestro

and 24 other members

"helpful" by (12%):

  1. Sally_Tims
  2. sandemp
  3. Claiiiree

and a further member

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.