Author Topic: Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.  (Read 10166 times)

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Offline SoNouveau

Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« on: November 03, 2005, 01:18:08 am »
Sooooooooooooo, this may seem like a lame question, but..I hope it isn't. When traveling 'cross country by bike, do you simply rely on ATMs and pay the fees everytime you withdraw cash?!? I mean, even over 8 weeks, say, and withdrawing money 3 times per week, that would only amount to paying fees on 24 transactions--not a huge outlay of cash, but bothersome (that's for sure). And I assume no one carries TOO MUCH money with them, do they? You don't carry $1000 in Travelers Checks, I'm assuming.

I was thinking of actually opening an account with a bank that appears to be nationwide, but even then Bank or America, say, or US Bank have holes in their coverage. That is, they may be great in the West, but not have ANY banks or ATMs in Minnesota or New Hampshire.

Any thoughts on safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc. that folks would like to share?!?!?!? (Odd as it sounds, I'm thinking I have to always keep my money with me--like carrying a passport with you at all times in Europe, say. Because I can see situations, like taking a simple shower at a campground, where you'd always want your money with you.)

Offline TheDaltonBoys

Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2005, 07:59:09 am »
In my humble opinion, cash has its own risk factor and I believe most could agree. Travelers checks can be easily replaced and it requires that counter signature thing, but some places in the "boonies" of the US don't take them, (or VISA travelers checks for that matter). ATM's, aside from the fee factor are not my favorite thing to do as anyone knows what your doing (getting cash), and when cruising I dislike having to have my mental radar pinging, but one must. So I'm no help....just thinking out loud. when my brothers and I did our KATY ride we carried cash.....but it was 3 of Mr. & Mrs. Daltons boys together. Sorry I haven't been of more help. Regards.......Mark of the Dalton Boys

Offline wanderingwheel

Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2005, 10:25:45 am »
I think it varies from person to person.  As for myself, I don't like carrying a lot of money so I do rely on ATMs.  My bank, USAA, does not chage an ATM fee and will rebate the fees at other ATMs up to $30 a month.  I also use a debit card as much as possible.  One more option is to get cashback at supermarkets and such when paying with your ATM card.


Offline OmahaNeb

Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2005, 12:48:52 pm »
Ask your current bank.  Some banks offer types of checking accounts that allow you x number of ATMs from non-member banks.  These accounts usually ask you to keep a minimum balance.

Offline Peaks

Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2005, 05:03:19 pm »
Well, I'm a cash type of person, so I relied on ATM's.  

However, in the boondocks, there is no one nationwide bank.  

Offline John Nettles

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Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2005, 10:38:25 am »
I tend to do a combo of the three.  I keep a small amount of cash (around $100) stuffed somewhere in my panniers, start the trip with about 25% of the estimated trip's total expenses in travelers checks i.e. if the trip is estimated to cost $1000, I get about $250 in travelers cheques (get them free as a AAA member), and use the ATM/debit card for the rest.

This gives me flexibility.  If I hit the boonies for a few days and don't have access to an ATM, I have cash.  While not everyplace accepts Travelers Cheques, most do (especially tourist related businesses like campgrounds).  If they get lost/stolen, they are replaced.  If I lose my ATM/debit card (done that unfortunately), I still have access to some cash and travelers checks until the card is replaced.

Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!  John

Offline DaveB

Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2005, 06:18:26 pm »
A credit card (Visa or Master Card) is accepted almost every where  However, if you are going to be away for several months you should have someone at home to pay the monthly bill or make a payment arrangement with the card issuer to avoid severe late charges.  

You will need a small amount of cash for little transactions (granola bars in a convenience store for example) or for the occasional place that doesn't take cards.  An occasional ATM transaction doesn't cost much.  

Offline mgarnett

Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2005, 07:31:12 pm »
Until this last post I was thinking "why isn't anyone suggesting credit cards?"  When my husband and I did our cross-country trip we used our credit card almost exclusively and carried only enough cash for a meal or two and one night's stay.  Even in very rural areas we found that nearly every gas station, restaurant, and motel accepted Mastercard or Visa.  A credit card is easily cancelled if stolen or lost, and most credit card companies will Fedex you a replacement card.  I'd recommend keeping only as much cash as you feel comfortable with, and then using a credit card for everything that you can (it's also a good way to see where your money is going on the trip, because everything is recorded).  Set up online banking for your bills before you leave, if you haven't already, and then you can use libraries for internet access along the way to arrange for payments.  Or some credit card issuers have direct-withdrawal programs for bill payments (even easier).  Good luck!

Offline RussellSeaton

Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2005, 09:28:41 pm »
I would never even give this a second thought for traveling in the US.  As already mentioned, everyone in the US takes credit cards.  On week long rides such as RAGBRAI, etc. I do carry a couple hundred bucks with me, most in my duffel bag, because many of the food stands during the day and evening are cash only.  And when there are 10,000 bicyclists around, the ATM is awfully busy.

For my Europe trips I carried a couple hundred in cash when I arrived and changed this to the local currency.  When possible I used a credit card but in Europe, credit cards are not as widely accepted.  I tried the travelers check thing once.  But you have to find a bank to cash them, a hassle.  I found it much easier to find an ATM every week or two and take out a couple hundred in cash in the local currency using my VISA card.  This lessened the fees since it was something like minimum of 3% or $5 or something like that.  It paid to take a couple hundred out at a time.  Never was too concerned with having cash on me.  I used one of those pouches that loops around your neck like a necklace.  This had my passport and some cash.  Rest of the cash was divied up into plastic bags and put in the four panniers in out of the way places.  Lessened the chance of losing much.

Offline driftlessregion

Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2005, 12:02:49 am »
The strange thing about travelers checks is that banks won't cash them. I have never had a problem cashing them in cafes or grocery stores but always a problem in a credit unions and banks.

Offline ptaylor

Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2005, 11:53:11 am »
No question about it - in the US, use your VISA or Mastercard for nearly all purchases. Carry $50 or so as insurance, and an ATM card to replenish it as needed (once every couple of weeks). Thirty years ago I would have bought travelers checks, but not today when even most McDonalds take credit cards.

Three warnings.
1. If you have a US crredit card, and are in Canada or Mexico beware; many of then tack on a 5% 'Foreign' fee. Check before you leave.
2. Try to use ATM machines at banks - they are nearly always cheaper than those at convenience stores, gas stations, etc.
3. Very few small businesses outside the US take Discover.


Offline Fastnorman

Safety/money/ATMs/Cash/Traveler's Checks/etc.
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2005, 12:29:13 am »
On our TransAm trip last spring I used a Visa card for big expenses and cash for everything else.  My ATM card worked quite well.  Almost every small town has a bank and I could usually get $400.00 for a charge of &1.50.  The worst service charge was at a truck stop ATM where it cost $2.00 to get a max of $200.00.  I carry the cash in my fanny pack that I always wear anytime I am off the bike.

Norm Nieberlein