travel advice & savings
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unique money question - UK travellers checks for eurotrip
stueythompson's profile picture
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Hi guys, I have a unique question for you…

I came to the UK to live for three months. Brought about £1300 in travellers checks. I know you guys hate them, but my plan was to put these into a bank account and this was the “safest way” (yadda yadda yadda, right?).

Now I’m going on an impromptu Eurotrip next week for a month. I can’t open a bank account because I don’t have proof of address yet (the banking system is crazy here).

What do I do with my travellers checks? I can’t use my home ATM card because my home account is basically at $0 and I don’t yet have a UK account.

Should I cash most of them and make them Euros? Keep them and try cashing them there?

AHH!! I leave on the 18th!!!

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You will lose a small amount of money on the exchange from GBP’s to Euros no matter what, but it probably won’t make too much difference how you do this. Cashing them all at once will probably save and you’re more likely to be able to do this in UK. Is there somewhere in UK where you can cash them all with no fee? If so, I would cash them and then take the pounds to Europe and change to Euros there. Change all you’re likely to spend in countries that use the euro at one time. It will be worth shopping around for the best exchange rate and lowest commissions and waiting in line at a bank if that’s the best deal. Keep what you’ll use in countries that don’t use the euro in pounds and change that in each specific country. If you change pounds to euros to something else you’ll pay double commissions and lose twice with unfavorable exchange rates.

If there’s a problem cashing them all, take them to Europe and cash all you’ll need in countries using the euro at once, etc….

BTW, I’m not sure UK banking laws are any crazier than anywhere else. In the current climate of terrorism and tracking terrorist funds, there aren’t many places where you could open a bank account without an address. 1,700 GBPs may be enough cash to push up some transaction flags, but I doubt it. I think it’s $10,000 where the bank has to report the transaction in the US.

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Here is what I would do, although this is pure speculation on my part:

  • Ask at a local (UK) bank what is their commission to cash checks in pounds, and what would be their commission to cash checks in Euros.
  • Assume that rules in the mainland Europe about pound checks would be similar to those in UK for Euro check, even though that’s just a rough guess.
  • Unless you have a reason to believe that every time you cash checks there is a high, say more then 5 Euro, per transaction fee, cash check in 200-500 Euro chunks, depending on your spending pattern.
    My reasons against cashing all the checks at once into Euros are that:
  • If you end up not spending all the money you’d have to convert back into pounds and that may cost you dearly.
  • While I don’t believe in the habitual claim about TCs being the safest way to carry money, they are still safer then cash.

carousel99's profile picture
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I think it will be fine to cash it out to EURO than to POUNDS, whatever you do keep the
checks safe, take advice from a bank, it will help you, i too faced a similar problem when I was on a job tour, the banks out there helped me a lot.

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Henry_Lewis's profile picture
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Converting the checks and then converting to different currencies cost a lot. Instead of speculating on it, I’d ask the bank manager on what the best solution would be.

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Banking rules have beentightened up everywhere since 9/11 but to I’m pretty sure all you need to open up a U.K. account is some I.d. and proof of residency (or tenancy): basically a copy of your lease, a copy of a utlity bill with your name on it. Also what about cashing the cheques, then depositing the money into your U.S. account via an ATM. With money in your U.S. account you can then use your ATM card in europe

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”