Smooth returns for traveller's cheques

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The Independent Online
WONDERING what to do with those travellers' cheques left over from your holidays?

The Independent on Sunday has carried out a survey of leading banks and building societies, asking them how they treat traveller's cheques when they are paid into your account. Are they, as their name suggests, treated like cheques, thus taking a number of days to be credited to your account, or do they clear the same day like cash?

A spokesman for National Westminster Bank said: 'They are cash instruments, and we treat them like cash.'

This was the response of most of the organisations contacted, but there were a few exceptions.

Barclays, Halifax, NatWest and Northern Rock take sterling travellers' cheques as cash, with no charge and regardless of whether they issued them or not. Midland also treats them as cash, but charges 2 per cent ( pounds 3 minimum) on any it did not issue itself.

Lloyds and Abbey National, however, treat their own as cash but those issued elsewhere as cheques. So does Nationwide, which does not itself issue traveller's cheques. Abbey National also charges pounds 1 on those of other issuers.

Foreign traveller's cheques are not so straightforward. Barclays, Midland and NatWest treat them as cash, but make a charge for those not issued by them - Barclays 1.5 per cent ( pounds 2.50 minimum), Midland 2 per cent ( pounds 3), NatWest 1 per cent ( pounds 4.50). Lloyds charges 1 per cent ( pounds 3 minimum) for all foreign traveller's cheques.

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