ITYT Travel Forums  

Go Back   ITYT Travel Forums > General Travel Topics > General Travel > General Travel
Click Here to Login

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 09-10-2002, 03:56 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: BUF, YYZ
Posts: 5
Euro Travelers Cheques & Smart Chips

By now many have seen the AMEX ad in the NY Times travel section, implying that, with AMEX Euro-denomination Travelers' Cheques, you can go directly to the sights without stopping at a Bureau de Change.

Not true.

I ordered 1/2 US and 1/2 Euro travelers cheques for my recent Euro vacation, with the express purpose of using the cheques as cash (much as we do in the States) for purchases.

I stepped out through the green line into my cab, which took me to pick up my car. Upon receipt of the car (which, through Renault Eurodrive, had an empty tank), I stopped at an adjacent gas station to fill up (50 Euro) and get some sodas, etc.

The bill was 60 Euro.

I confidently whipped out a 100 Euro cheque.

The saleswoman looks at me as if I had three heads.

No dice. In fact, the only place that would accept the cheques without them first being transformed into cash was my Munich hotel.

Some non-bank Bureaux de Change would not touch them, either.

Caveat number two:
Since we arrived on a Saturday and no one would take my cheques, and all banks were closed, I had to hunt down an ATM.

Outskirts of Salzburg: bank ATM: The door would not open for my Mastercard / Maestro -emblazoned ATM / debit card. The door would not open for my regular Gold Visa (despite the MC/Visa logos on the door).

It WOULD open for the only card I had with me that had a smart chip in it - my AMEX Blue. Of course, once inside, the ATM had no problem dispensing money using my non-chip Debit card.

So, to sum up:

1. Travelers Cheques - even in local currency - aren't the same as cash.
2. Get & take a credit card that sports a smart chip, like AMEX Blue.
__________________

BuffaloNY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2002, 07:23 AM   #2
Senior Member
ITYT Captain
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: IAH/HOU
Posts: 2,354
Very interesting report. I, too, was skeptical of AmEx's travelers cheques in different currencies.

I had never seen a problem with using a card that didn't have a smart chip. It was only (relatively) recently that US ATM networks worked overseas reliably, so this would be a setback if fewer ATMs were supporting regular cards now.

I'll stick with USD cheques and plastic.
__________________

dbaker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2002, 09:57 PM   #3
Senior Member
ITYT Navigator
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: AUS [Austin, TX, USA]
Posts: 610
Send a message via AIM to Nugget
Yes, thank you very much for the experience. My only exposure to traveller's cheques was in the form of US$200 I received from my employer for use as emergency funds during business trips. I finally just deposited them in my bank mostly because I was intimidated by them for use in country or overseas. My gut feeling was that they'd be difficult to use in most circumstances and it sounds like your experience supports my unsubstantiated feelings.

Now I'm also wondering if I should get an Amex Blue, which could be fun but seems excessive given the three Amex cards I already have (although I only carry two of them). I've really got to wonder if Amex doesn't perhaps have plans of folding their Blue product into the Optima line, it seems to be a poorly distinguished and marketed product in general. Clearly they were trying to increase their cardbase with Blue without diluting the "cachet" of their other products but they've apparantly backed away from any sensitivity to such dilution across the board.
Nugget is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2002, 07:43 AM   #4
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: BUF, YYZ
Posts: 5
I got the Blue a few years ago specifically because I wanted a smart chip-enabled card for European travel. Smart chips are used far more widely in Europe than magnetic strips are.

Example:

I had to travel to Switzerland last year at the last minute and the best price I could get was to fly into Milan and rent a car. I needed to call the people with whom I was staying to let them know my progress & ETA. At a Movenpick rest stop between Luzern and Basel, I wanted to use a payphone, but was not in the mood to get a phone card - which uses a smart-chip. Instead, I just inserted the Blue card and made my call. My bill the next month showed a fifty cent charge for that phone call. It was really quite handy, and I didn't get overcharged on the call.

Little things like that make the Blue very handy. I know we don't use it much in the States because it's more costly than a simple mag strip, but the smart chip doesn't wear out like the mag strip.
BuffaloNY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2002, 08:45 AM   #5
Senior Member
ITYT Captain
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: IAH/HOU
Posts: 2,354
Given American Express's focus on customer that travel, it seems like it can only be a matter of time before they offer smart cards on all of their regular charge cards.
dbaker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2002, 10:25 AM   #6
Senior Member
ITYT Navigator
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: AUS [Austin, TX, USA]
Posts: 610
Send a message via AIM to Nugget
It's difficult to envision an Amex Plat or Optima card that has the telltale contact patch of the Smart Chip that doesn't have its appearance completely marred. I wonder if it's primarly a cosmetic decision on Amex's part. It's a shame, but I can see how they might be motivated by such seemingly trivial concerns.

After a brief but comprehensive search, it looks like Fleet is just about the only other option for US cardholders who want a card with a smart chip inside. And Fleet's product carries an annual fee.

What to do? What to do?
Nugget is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2002, 10:51 AM   #7
Senior Member
ITYT Captain
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: IAH/HOU
Posts: 2,354
They could always offer customers the choice of the "smart' Platinum, the regular one, or both.

It's certainly the future, at least in some parts.
__________________

dbaker is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:31 AM.



Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0