Are euro travellers' cheques useful? Plus 'open-jaw' to South America
Wednesday 29 August 2012
Q. We have some euro travellers' cheques left over from a previous holiday. Can these still be used in Greece or should we cash them in the UK? M Jones, Suffolk
A. Take them, but only in the hope that you might be able to "liquidate" them – i.e. turn the cheques into cash at a bank, or use them to pay for goods and services. But don't rely on them: in the past decade, travellers' cheques, like personal cheques in the UK, have gone from mainstream to niche payment method with limited acceptability.
In France, Spain, Greece (pictured above) and many other countries it can be difficult to find anywhere to accept them; even in America, where US-dollar travellers' cheques could previously be used as cash, they are often regarded with mistrust. You may strike it lucky and find a bank or bureau de change in Greece that will convert travellers' cheques to cash in return for a small percentage, or a hotelier or restaurateur prepared to accept them, but don't bet on it.
The best way to carry funds for a low-crime nation such as Greece is in euros, in cash. Using a credit card to pay for purchases – but not cash advances – is a reasonable strategy. Also consider a pre-paid card such as those provided by Caxton FX, ICE, Moneycorp or Travelex, again loaded in euros. Take a debit card, but use it only as a last resort – charges are usually painfully high. And see independent.co.uk/eurocash for more information.
Q. I plan to cruise from Buenos Aires early next year. I am finding it difficult to find flights to Argentina and then back from Santiago. Can you help? Anthony Cavill, Lincolnshire
A. Finding an "open-jaw" flight from the UK out to the Argentine capital and back from the Chilean capital is straightforward and need not be more expensive than an ordinary return ticket to either city. The options are Air France via Paris; a combination of BA non-stop from Heathrow to Buenos Aires and then back from Santiago via Madrid on Iberia; TAM via Sao Paulo; or a North American airline, such as Air Canada via Toronto. Reckon on £750-£850 return (or more if you go via Brazil during carnival time). A specialist travel agent will prove more helpful than buying on the internet.
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