Whatever happened to traveller's cheques?

Once a staple in a holiday wallet, traveller's cheques are now used by fewer and fewer people, with one graph from the Federal Reserve in the US showing that usage peaked in 1995 and has been falling ever since.

According to YouGov, only 9 per cent of Britons used traveller's cheques in 2011, a figure that fell to 4 per cent in 2014, and less than 1.5 per cent by the end of last year. Over the same timeframe, use of pre-paid cards has risen from 6 per cent to 9 per cent.

The main argument for traveller's cheques – back in the Nineties – was that they could be refunded if lost or stolen, were safe in that they required your signature to be used and convenient as accepted by thousands of hotels, shops and restaurants around the world.

Today, pre-paid currency cards and debit cards do much the same, without the need for carrying paper, issuing your signature at every turn and dealing with the faff of whether they are accepted or not, or finding a bank to cash them. A growth in traveller's cheque fraud helped spur a number of business into ceasing to accept them. 

Ania Walker, head of prepaid cards at Travelex said that such cheques were more useful when there were fewer ATMs and the "point of sale infrastructure was less advanced", meaning fewer card machines and contactless apps.

"They've fallen out of favour in recent years," she said. "With the increasing use of cards and apps to spend and manage money domestically, people have to expect instant service and access.

"Although traveller's cheques are safer than carrying large amounts of cash, the process of changing them in trip can be inconvenient, especially in remote locations or at weekends."

For those loyal followers, traveller's cheques are still available from Travelex and Australia Post. 

The Telegraph, London

See also: Why travellers shouldn't fall for 'cash passport' money cards

See also: The rip-off that's catching out travellers all over the world
 

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