Author Topic: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??  (Read 2975 times)

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Offline douglaslee

Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« on: March 18, 2012, 10:02:20 am »
I'm riding the TA this summer. I've heard small town merchants require cash for purchases. I'd like to know what kind of currency other travelers have used? How much cash do you carry? Do you get it from ATM's along the way? Credit cards/debit cards? Anyone still use travelers' checks?


Offline John Nelson

Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2012, 10:56:55 am »
I carried a few hundred in cash, used credit cards a lot, and didn't spend that much. My cash lasted me the whole way without replenishment.

Joe B

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Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2012, 11:08:23 am »
I keep a 2 day budget in cash, and the rest on a "disposable" debit card. These are good since I can load them from my bank account when needed and if I lose it it's no big deal since it has only a little on it AND they would need my PIN # to use it. I use a "Green Dot" card since it has an easy to use iPhone app for loading it.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2012, 12:38:53 pm »
I'm riding the TA this summer. I've heard small town merchants require cash for purchases.

I'm curious where you heard that; it doesn't jive with my experience.  I can only remember two motels (both sort of, well, questionable) and some B&Bs that didn't take credit cards.  The motels were happy with cash, and the B&Bs with checks.  The only reason I can see for merchants, even in small towns, to dislike credit cards is if you're charging small amounts, because of the fees they get hit with.  I do remember a few minimum purchase signs, usually around $5-10.

ATMs are ubiquitous.

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2012, 03:13:33 pm »
I know that some of you will call this upright stupid ...

On my last trip I had 1000 dollars in hard cash in my wallet. Just a bunch of 20 dollar bills. I will also be doing the TA this summer and again I will start out with 1000 dollars. That should last for 50 days (= the entire trip) excl unexpected mechanical failures. Although I will carry 2 credit cards (emergency) I don't like using them at all because I "loose the grip" of where the money is going. But this behavior is probably reflecting the use of credit/debit cards in my everyday life: I probably use those cards 2-3 times a month. I need to physically see where the money is going. It is as simple and basic as it gets.

And remember the saying:

Money talks
Cash screams

Lucas

Offline indyfabz

Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2012, 04:51:40 pm »
I'm riding the TA this summer. I've heard small town merchants require cash for purchases.

ATMs are ubiquitous.

+1. I don't see a need to carry more than a day or 3 of cash for small purchases at places that might have a minimum purchase requirement for the use of a card. In this days and age, even the tiniest blip on the radar screen of a town is likely to have an ATM. I would not bother with traveler's cheques. If you are worried about bank fees for ATM withdraws, start out with a few hundred in cash and use the ATM and/or credit card for bigger purchases whenever you can. This summer we used a credit card at a hot springs lodge that was located in a national forest 40 miles from the nearest town and had no cell phone service.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2012, 05:12:33 pm »
I know that some of you will call this upright stupid ... On my last trip I had 1000 dollars in hard cash in my wallet.
I don't think that's stupid at all. You chances of getting robbed on the TransAm are probably less than one in a thousand, so this tactic is only costing you a dollar, assuming you are careful not to flash the wad around and assuming you're not the kind of person who loses things.

I'd guess that many younger clerks you see along the way don't even know what a Traveler's Cheque is and wouldn't know what to do if you handed them one. According to Wikipedia:

The wider acceptance and better security of the alternatives such as credit and debit cards has meant a significant decline in the use of travelers cheques since the 1990s. In addition, the security issues for retailers accepting travelers cheques has meant that many businesses no longer accept them, making them less attractive to travelers. This has led to complaints about the difficulty that holders have in using them. In much of Europe and Asia, the cheques are no longer widely accepted and can not easily be cashed, even at the banks that issue the cheques.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2012, 05:22:27 pm »
I'd guess that many younger clerks you see along the way don't even know what a Traveler's Cheque is and wouldn't know what to do if you handed them one. According to Wikipedia:

The wider acceptance and better security of the alternatives such as credit and debit cards has meant a significant decline in the use of travelers cheques since the 1990s. In addition, the security issues for retailers accepting travelers cheques has meant that many businesses no longer accept them, making them less attractive to travelers. This has led to complaints about the difficulty that holders have in using them. In much of Europe and Asia, the cheques are no longer widely accepted and can not easily be cashed, even at the banks that issue the cheques.

That is a good point. You might be able to cash/use travelers checks in hotels and maybe larger supermarkets, but a lot of small-town businesses may be hesitant to accept them.

I worked in a hostel for five years, and we did accept travelers checks. But I rarely encountered them, maybe 10-20 total in that span of time. It seemed that most folks who used them either didn't have credit cards or were very adverse to using credit cards.

Offline douglaslee

Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2012, 07:46:24 pm »
I'm riding the TA this summer. I've heard small town merchants require cash for purchases.

I'm curious where you heard that; it doesn't jive with my experience.  I can only remember two motels (both sort of, well, questionable) and some B&Bs that didn't take credit cards.  The motels were happy with cash, and the B&Bs with checks.  The only reason I can see for merchants, even in small towns, to dislike credit cards is if you're charging small amounts, because of the fees they get hit with.  I do remember a few minimum purchase signs, usually around $5-10.

ATMs are ubiquitous.

I think I read it on this forum.

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2012, 02:36:16 am »
I don't think that's stupid at all. You chances of getting robbed on the TransAm are probably less than one in a thousand,

Somewhat off topic:
My point exactly. Friends/family still don't believe me when I tell them it is more safe to ride across USA (incl probable bear encounters in the Rockies) than having a Friday night out in a European city/town where you have a large chance of getting robbed, stabbed, shot at or beat up by total strangers. People do stupid stupid things when intoxicated by drugs but most importantly alcohol.

But hey, on my Northern Tier trip somewhere in the heartland I was sitting on a porch in front of a tiny grocery store relaxing and eating. A lady came by and gave me 3 dollars so I could buy myself an ice cream  :)

Lucas

Offline indyfabz

Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2012, 07:02:16 am »
I'm riding the TA this summer. I've heard small town merchants require cash for purchases.

I'm curious where you heard that; it doesn't jive with my experience.  I can only remember two motels (both sort of, well, questionable) and some B&Bs that didn't take credit cards.  The motels were happy with cash, and the B&Bs with checks.  The only reason I can see for merchants, even in small towns, to dislike credit cards is if you're charging small amounts, because of the fees they get hit with.  I do remember a few minimum purchase signs, usually around $5-10.

ATMs are ubiquitous.

I think I read it on this forum.

Well if you read in on the Internet than it must be accurate.   ;D

Offline indyfabz

Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2012, 07:06:25 am »
I don't think that's stupid at all. You chances of getting robbed on the TransAm are probably less than one in a thousand,

Somewhat off topic:
My point exactly. Friends/family still don't believe me when I tell them it is more safe to ride across USA (incl probable bear encounters in the Rockies) than having a Friday night out in a European city/town where you have a large chance of getting robbed, stabbed, shot at or beat up by total strangers. People do stupid stupid things when intoxicated by drugs but most importantly alcohol.

Yes.  Ever since they outlawed drugs and alcohol in the U.S., violence has virtually disappeared.

Offline driftlessregion

Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2012, 10:44:07 pm »
On my Northern Tier trip I found that merchants would take travelers checks but banks and credit unions would not. It is a bit ironic that the very institutions that sell travelers checks would not cash them.

Offline mucknort

Re: Cash, debit cards, credit cards, travelers' checks??
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2012, 05:45:18 pm »
A debit card will do ya. These things are a combo Visa credit card/debit cash card connected to your bank account. Big towns, small towns accept them in one way or the other and you can keep up a cash reserve by hitting dept. stores/pharmacys (Evil EmpireWallymart, Target, Walgreens, CVS) that have taken over everywhere and hit the cashback button.