As recently as the 1990s, travelers checks were so common you would never think of 'leaving home without them', as actor Karl Malden said in the classic American Express ads.
This is no longer quite the case.
Travelers checks are becoming harder to cash, especially in countries where ATM machines are everywhere. Even a few years ago, you could easily use checks in shops or hotels but increasingly, hotels are refusing them. As for shops, I haven't found any in years that would take one.
Travelers checks (or travellers cheques in some countries) are dying but not quite dead. American Express still sells them, and in some countries (like China) they are still used, even where ATMs are plentiful.
While they were once the gold standard for travel money, these days they've been dethroned by the credit card, the debit card and the ATM machine.
Consider a mixture.
If you're going somewhere checks are common and you're planning on spending a lot, then take some, by all means.
No matter what, you should carry regular or prepaid credit cards, debit cards, and a bit of cash in the local currencies.
If you run out of money or your cards get lost, stolen or compromised, you can always get a money transfer overseas through a bank, change office, or a service like Western Union.
Bottom line? I no longer carry checks although I like the system. If I could cash them easily I would still use them. Instead I have some cash, stashed away either in my money belt or in my trusty bag, and a couple of cards. I haven't needed more.
Do you still use travelers checks? Why or why not?
Still DREAMING of traveling the world after all these years?
What's stopping you from DOING it?
If you think it's too late, if you're holding back because you have no one to travel with, if you feel you're too inexperienced or too scared…
Then you really NEED Women on the Road: the essential guide for baby boomer travel! This book is made for you. Whatever is holding you back, Women on the Road eliminates the obstacles, relieves your fears and insecurities, and gets you out of the house and onto the road!