I have read many of the posts about using traveler's checks in Thailand and all seemed positive. I was however, told by AAA (American Automobile Association) when I wanted to get some from them that most merchants in Thailand would no longer take them due to ease of counterfeiting the checks. Is there any validity to this claim or are they just shinin me on?
Thanks for any input.
#1 husqvarna has been a member since 7/9/2009. Posts: 47
I used them in Thailand at 3 different banks without an issue. There is a set fee when using travel cheques and this doesn't vary depending on the amount. I think it works out favourably when compared to some banks ATM charges (especially when combined with the Thai charges)
I'm pretty sure only American Express TC's are accepted though
The only problem that may arise with travellers cheques is availability of a place to change them. Last time I was on Koh Chang I got a very bad exchange rate as the guesthouse took a cut. This has possibly changed on Koh Chang but I would expect this still exists on some islands. But in places like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi there would be no problems.
#3 mic59 has been a member since 30/7/2008. Posts: 107
I have witnessed a friend having his TC in sterling refused by an Exchange booth - why I don't know.
It is rare to have problems with TCs but as said above they can be time-consuming to get changed - and of course it's always a fixed sum.
I would recommend that you set up and use your ATM card for most transactions - there is however currently a 150 baht surcharge at 99% of ATMs on this.
So if you want speed and convenience (use in banks, ATMs shops etc etc ) it's an ATM or Credit card, but the cheapest option is probably TCs. just keep a little spare cash for late at night of if you get in a situation described above.
#4 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
Thank you for the advice.
#5 husqvarna has been a member since 7/9/2009. Posts: 47
i forgot to mention
AMERICAN EXPRESS TC's and IN DOLLARS
anything else has a higher chance of not being accepted
I'd never recommend changing TC's at a guesthouse?! just go to a bank...if there isn't a bank then use your ATM card that time and save the cheques for another
I found the amount of time it took to process a travellers cheque varied hugely depending on the country and the bank. In Malaysia, at one bank it took 30 minutes to process yet at another [both in KL] it took about 3. In Thailand i found it to be quick, i mostly used those exchange booths that are attached to banks.
A good mix of currency is the way to go.
I must say that banks in my country all say, including American Express, "TC's are from the past you'll be better with a credit card". But the guides I'm using, especially Rough Guide, which are the real experience, tell you to take TC's, many times ignoring credit cards. My conclusion is that, obviously, banks want the best for them, thus will always encourage one to take credit card as you give them more money with all the fees involved.
TCs are better - cheaper and not at all more problematic to use than credit cards.
#7 Indoluso has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 133
I haven'y used a TC for years maybe even decades.....I would certainly carry them as back-up, but the extra I pay for using a card / ATM I consider to be worth it.
ATMs are 24 hour and available everywhere in Thailand
The rates of exchange seem to be good.
I can use my card(s) also ..
buy currency from exchanges and banks,
Pay for shopping - the EXACT amount,
Pay for booking rooms etc.,
I get a record of all my transactions
and I don't end up carrying a wad of cash around that I don't need. (i.e. after cashing a TC)
I also don't have to worry about where to keep it as it so small it can be kept on my person most of the time.
#8 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
As regards currency - unless your country's currency is really obscure, I wouldn't recommend converting to dollars or any other currency than your own as each time you change money you lose a little bit on rates and fees - so repeated changing is quite unnecessary IMO.
You will almost ALWAYS get a better rate for baht in Thailand - so don't change money until you get here....
#9 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
my experience is pretty similar to the others above. you'll never get as good an exchange rate at a guest house or travel agent as you would at a bank or exchange booth. with TC's in thailand, there is a pretty flat 33 baht fee per check, which can be a big chunk of your money, although now that ATM's are charging a 150 baht fee, the TC fee isn't as big a difference as it used to be. often times a TC will get a slightly better exchange rate than straight cash, and it pays to shop around too before you change money, since often times even exchange booths right next to each other will have different exchange rates.
i usually carry a small amount of TC's as an emergency back up and always try to get AMEX TC's if at all possible. as others have said, they seem to be the most widely accepted. otherwise, i do exactly as wilko suggests above, which is to set up my ATM card with a 4-digit PIN code and get cash withdrawls that way. let your bank know you'll be heading overseas too, just in case.
i'm not sure what AAA meant when they told you that thai merchants won't accept TC's as payment. in my experience, the only shops in thailand that seek payment in dollars anyway are tailor shops and jewelry shops. almost everyone else will want baht, and you'll get a better price paying in baht too. in that sense, the only thing you'd be using the TC for is for exchanging money.
by the way, i'm in laos right now and the Lao Development Bank just cashed two TC's for me with no commission or fee. regards.
The OP's information is correct but a little misleading. Most merchants in Thailand don't accept TCs - merchants in many countries outside the US don't accept TCs. How you use TCs is by taking them to a bank for encashment.
I'm obviously different to most. I use cash and TCs mainly, credit for purchases, and my ATM card as a backup. I've noticed an increase in interest in using TCs as the many pleasures of electronic theft and bank charges on electronic 'products' continue to expand.