How to obtain traveler’s checks

Travel Tips

How to obtain traveler's checks

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Using traveler’s checks instead of cash offers security when traveling, as you can obtain a refund on lost or stolen traveler’s checks. American Express offers their “travelers cheques” in a variety of currencies, including the U.S. dollar, euro, British pound sterling, Chinese yuan, Canadian dollars and Japanese yen. At time of publication, American Express is the only source for obtaining traveler’s checks online. Purchase traveler’s checks online by using your American Express Membership Reward Points and converting the points into traveler’s checks or with your American Express card.

With American Express Membership Rewards Points

Step 1

Visit the American Express website to create an American Express online account. Locate and click “My Account,” and then click “Account Summary” to land on the login page. Click “Create a New Account,” and enter the required personal and credit card information to create an online account.

Step 2

Return to the login page and enter your user ID and password to log into your American Express account.

Step 3

View your available Membership Rewards points on the page in the upper right-hand corner under “Log Out.”

Step 4

Locate and click “Membership Rewards” and view your account summary with the balance of your pending and available rewards points.

Step 5

Decide which denomination of checks you want to purchase and ensure you have the required amount of points to make the purchase. At time of publication, it takes 10,000 points to purchase a $50 American Express travelers cheque. Use your American Express Membership Rewards points to redeem your traveler’s checks by entering the quantity in the designated field; select the denomination you wish to obtain and click the box indicating that you have read the restrictions.

Step 6

Purchase your traveler’s checks by clicking “Add to Cart.” Confirm the amount of the traveler’s check and your shipping address.

Step 7

Choose your shipping method and click “Submit” to order your traveler’s checks.

With an American Express Card

Step 1

Visit the American Express website to create an American Express online account. Locate and click “My Account,” and then click “Account Summary” to land on the login page. Click “Create a New Account” and enter the required personal and credit card information to create an online account.

Step 2

Return to the login page and enter your user ID and password to log into your American Express account. Select “Travelers Cheques” located under “Additional Products and Services.”

Step 3

Decide what quantity and denomination of traveler’s checks you want to order. Select the card to which you want the cost of the travelers checks charged if you have more than one American Express credit card.

Step 4

Confirm the amount of the traveler’s checks and your shipping address. Choose your shipping method, and click “Purchase” to order your travelers checks.

Travel Tips

How to obtain traveler's checks

(Photo: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images )

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With the rate of the dollar changing overseas, carrying foreign travelers checks could limit the amount you spend on commission and stabilize the value of your money when you travel. However, be aware that some locations are still more likely to take travelers checks in dollars than any other currency.

Items you will need

  • Money
  • Pen
  • Paper

Step 1

Check exchange rates for your destinations online. Try one of any number of online currency converters, or you can refer to a trusted national news website’s financial page.

Step 2

Visit your bank. If you prefer, American Express and AAA also sell travelers checks, both online and in person. Ask if it charges a commission for foreign checks.

Step 3

Choose the amount of currency you want to buy. Use what you have learned about the exchange rates to propose an amount in the foreign currency to your banker. Confirm the exchange rate.

Step 4

Request different denominations of the foreign currency for your checks. Small and large amounts give you options overseas.

Step 5

Take out a piece of paper and a pen and write down the serial numbers of the checks before you leave home. Keep a record of the amount of the check and its serial number with you on your trip, separate from the travelers checks themselves.

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How to Redeem Unused Traveler’s Checks. Though they can be difficult to use in some locations, traveler’s checks provide a safe form of money when you travel. If you have traveler’s checks left over after a trip, or if you’re the executor of an estate that includes traveler’s checks, they’re relatively easy to redeem for cash.

Realize that traveler’s checks don’t expire, so if the checks are yours and you’re going to travel in the future, you can save your unused traveler’s checks for your next trip.

Exchange your travelers checks for cash free of charge if your vendor has a partnership program with banks and other exchange vendors. For example, when you travel abroad with American Express traveler’s checks, you can exchange them for the local currency at any American Express Travel Service Office or at any of their partner locals. Check with your vendor to find out if they have a program like this.

Deposit unused traveler’s checks in your bank account if they’re in your home currency and they’re made out to you. Take them to a teller’s window to deposit them and receive cash in return. If they’re in a foreign currency, you must take them to a bank that can accept that currency. Call your financial institution if you have questions.

Redeem a deceased person’s unused traveler’s checks if you’re the executor of the estate, or if you’re named as the beneficiary. To do so, take the traveler’s checks, death certificate and papers declaring the executor or beneficiary to the estate’s bank. Provide the phone number of the traveler’s check vendor so the bank can contact them and make arrangements for the redemption of the checks.

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Travel Tips

How to obtain traveler's checks

Like money, travelers checks need protecting in your purse, wallet or moneybelt. (Photo: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images )

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American Express travelers cheques were at their most useful in the days before widespread ATMs. You could spend traveler’s cheques just like cash and receive change back, but, unlike cash, your travelers cheques could be refunded if they were lost or stolen. Now that ATMs are so common all over the world, travelers cheques aren’t as commonly accepted – but you can still exchange them for cash in banks and change bureaus, and use them like personal checks at some businesses.

American Express travelers checks don’t expire, so you can use them any time. Once you’ve found a bank or business that accepts traveler’s cheques, fill out the check and countersign it just as you would a personal check from another party or a payroll check.

Buying Your Travelers Cheques

You can purchase American Express travelers cheques at many banks and credit unions and at American Express service locations around the world. Note: American Express travelers cheques are available in U.S. dollars, euros and British pounds sterling. In most cases, you’ll be charged a commission and/or exchange fee when you buy your cheques. If you hold an American Express card or have a AAA card, you can buy travelers cheques for no commission. (AAA cardholders will need to buy through AAA.)

As soon as you buy your travelers cheques, sign them in the upper left-hand corner. If you’ve purchased a “cheque for two” that can be used by either of two travelers, you’ll both need to make this initial signature.

When you buy your travelers cheques, make sure to record the serial number on each cheque and keep the list in a safe place, separate from your travelers cheques. If your cheques are lost or stolen, you’ll need to provide those serial numbers to arrange a refund.

Using Your Travelers Cheques

When it’s time to use your travelers cheques, date the cheque in the upper right-hand corner and fill out the “pay to the order of” field, just as you would a personal check. Make sure the cashier watches you countersign the check in the lower left-hand corner. The cashier will verify your signature against the previous signature from the upper left-hand corner. If there’s any change left over from the transaction, you’ll receive it back in cash.

You can usually cash travelers cheques at banks, currency exchange bureaus (bureaux de change in some countries) and at American Express travel service locations. Some larger hotels and other businesses still accept them, too. That said, not as many businesses accept travelers cheques as they once did, so it’s best to confirm in advance whether your cheques will be accepted. Also, ask if the merchant collects any commission fees when you make your purchase.

Tips for Travelers Check Verification

Has somebody offered to pay you with a travelers cheque? Then you should do the same security checks that any merchant would perform. First, have the buyer sign the lower left-hand corner of the cheque while you watch; then verify that the result is a reasonable match for the signature in the upper left corner.

Next, hold the cheque up to the light to see its security features. You’re looking for a Centurion watermark in the white area of the cheque and a security thread in the middle. You should be able to see both features from the front and back of the cheque. Also, the color on the Centurion and American Express logo should change as you view the cheque from different angles.

Finally, American Express recommends calling them to authorize the cheque before you complete the transaction. Once you’ve verified that the cheque is authentic and properly made out to you, deposit it into your bank account.

Buying Traveler’s Checks the Right Way

Traveler’s checks are designed with safety in mind. Not only are they accepted at locations all over the world, they also come in different currencies including the US Dollar, Euro, Canadian Dollar, and the Japanese Yen. Easy-to-use and keep track of, traveler’s checks take the guesswork out of managing your money when you are out of state or abroad.

For over 100 years, individuals have preferred traveler’s checks for a number of reasons. One of them is quite simple. With the exchange rate being so uncertain, travelers never know how much their money is really worth. With traveler’s checks, this is seldom an issue because you have locked into the exchange rate at the time of purchase. You also don’t have to worry about someone obtaining your personal information if your purse or wallet is lost or stolen. That gives you added security when you are away from home and makes traveler’s checks a necessity for every globetrotter.

Decide Where You Want to Get Your Traveler’s Checks

There are a number of reputable places where you can obtain traveler’s checks. One of them is at your local bank. Another option is through your local AAA Auto Club. Last but not least, you can get them from American Express, Citicorp or Thomas Cook. This largely depends on your preference. Some checks will bear the MasterCard or Visa name and logo. Others may be affiliated with your bank. The most standard traveler’s check is issued through American Express and has identifying information that matches the company.

Many issuers have replaced booklets of traveler’s checks with pre-paid debit cards. These handy pieces of plastic work in a similar fashion but do not have the same types of security features found on traveler’s checks. That means that it is easier to use these cards without identification. A person will not necessarily be required to countersign a slip or prove who they are when making purchases. If you prefer a hassle-free way to protect your money, consider the benefits offered by traveler’s checks.

Determine What Denominations Will Work Best For You and Your Budget

Having a variety of checks in different denominations will give you greater freedom as you travel. Many retailers refuse to accept larger denominations because of the risk of them being fraudulent. You can avoid this issue by having smaller traveler’s checks on hand while making purchases. Buying a pack of gum to break a $100 check is not advised. You don’t want to walk around with a wallet full of cash, now do you?

Make Sure All of the Safety Features Match Up

Traveler’s check issues have implemented a number of strategies to defer counterfeiters. From holographic images to security inks and watermarks, each issuer has its own way of making their checks valid. Just make sure to buy them from a trusted location like a bank or through the American Express website. Purchasing discounted traveler’s checks from individuals other than a trusted retailer increases the probability of them being fraudulent. Protect your assets by making sure these features are present on all the checks you are given before leaving for your trip. You can never be too cautious when traveling abroad.

Keep the Register in a Safe Place

You should keep a written record of all your traveler’s check serial numbers in a safe place just in case they are lost or stolen. Although each issuer has a different set of rules concerning replacement traveler’s checks, American Express provides the following options:

  1. Call a Customer Service Center with the serial numbers of the missing checks. You can find the number to reach them at included with the paperwork that came with the checks when you first bought them. You can also visit their website online for contact information.
  2. Once on the phone, a representative will present a number of options to you in regards to obtaining a refund.
  3. If you wish to expedite the process, you can fill out a Refund Claim Form and fax it to1-800-417-0060.
  4. Your refund will arrive to your home in the form of a company check in 7 to 10 business days.

Traveler’s checks are readily available and offer convenience to the individuals that choose to use them. They have no hidden fees, are widely accepted, and can be replaced if they are lost and stolen. The same cannot be said about cash. Thieves (see our article on avoiding pickpockets) are seldom brazen enough to use traveler’s checks out of fear that they will be caught in the act. Cash offers anonymity. Traveler’s checks are registered in a person’s name and can be tracked back to them and their address. This gives you more than one reason to purchase a batch for your next trip.

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Passport Services maintains U.S. passport records from March 1925 to the present. Records are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974. Records may include:

  • Passport Applications
  • Consular Report of Birth
  • Consular Report of Death
  • Certificate of Witness to Marriage
  • Certificate of Loss of Nationality

Passport records do not include evidence of travel such as entrance or exit stamps, visas, or residence permits.

How to get Passport Records

Passport was issued after March 1925

A. The Privacy Act allows you to obtain copies of your records, your minor child, any person for whom you are a legal guardian, or any person who has authorized you to obtain them.

Please send your request to:

U.S. Department of State
Office of Law Enforcement Liaison
44132 Mercure Cir
P.O. Box 1227
Sterling, VA 20166

The written request must include:

  1. Full name at birth and any name changes of the individual whose records you are requesting, and if you are requesting records for your children or using an authorization, provide your full name as well.
  2. Evidence of legal authorization if you are requesting records about anyone other than yourself, evidence of the parental or guardian relationship if you are requesting records about your minor child(ren) or legal guardian;
  3. Date and place of birth of the individual whose records you are requesting;
  4. Your mailing address;
  5. Your daytime telephone number;
  6. Your e-mail address, if available;
  7. Date or estimated date of passport issuance;
  8. Passport number of the person whose records you are seeking, if known, and any other information that will help us locate the records; and
  9. A clear copy of both sides of your valid government-issued photo identification such as a driver’s license.

Additional Requirements for Your Request

  • Must be signed and notarized or made under penalty of perjury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746.
  • Use DS-4240, the Department’s Certification of Identity form, to provide proof of authorization if requesting records on someone else’s behalf.
  • Must be notarized or include a copy of your valid government-issued photo ID.

Processing Times to Receive Copies of Passport Records

  • 12 to 16 weeks
  • There are no fees to request a regular copy of your passport records, those of your minor children or any person whom you act as a guardian, or as an authorized representative.
  • If you wish to obtain certified copies of these records, the certification fee is $50.
  • If you plan to use these records in a country that is a party to the Hague Apostille Convention, you may obtain an apostilled copy for $8.
  • Checks or money orders should be made payable to “U.S. Department of State.”

B. You must submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request via mail if you’re seeking someone else’s passport records without an authorization from that individual. Mail to:

How to obtain traveler's checks

How to obtain traveler's checks

Visit our Newsroom for information about the current status of visa services and visa restrictions related to the COVID-19 global pandemic

What is a U.S. Visa?

A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship.

Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the United States without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. The Visa section of this website is all about U.S. visas for foreign citizens to travel to the United States.

(Note: U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit. In this situation, when planning travel abroad, learn about visa requirements by country, see country information in the International Travel Section section of this website.)

Find out what visa type is appropriate for you

The type of visa you must obtain is defined by U.S. immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel.

Please visit our Visa Wizard to find out what visa type is appropriate for you.

You can also visit our Frequently Asked Questions or find out about the Visa Waiver Program.

Safe Travels Help

Table of Contents

The Safe Travels Hawaii program is a multilayered process designed to protect the health and safety of our visitors and residents alike from the spread of COVID-19. A 10-day mandatory quarantine will be required for travelers arriving WITHOUT a confirmed negative COVID-19 test taken within the 72 hours before departure of the final leg of their trip to Hawaii. There is also a mandatory 10-day self-quarantine for all travelers traveling between islands, except for those traveling from a neighbor island to Oahu.

To bypass the mandatory quarantine, the State of Hawaii will ONLY accept Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) lab test results from TRUSTED TESTING AND TRAVEL PARTNERS. To save time at during the arrival screening process at the airport, travelers should upload their Negative COVID-19 Test result to the Safe Travels Digital Platform.

Travelers wishing to bypass the 10-day mandatory quarantine must have their COVID-19 test results – from a trusted testing partner – prior to departure for the State of Hawaii. Travelers need to upload their test results before departure or have printed copy of their test results in hand upon arrival to show the airport screener.

Travelers will not be able to obtain a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) upon arrival at any Hawaii airport.

Beginning June 15, 2021, travelers to Hawaii will only need to enter trip information for their first flight that lands in Hawaii. Travel restrictions for interisland travel have been lifted (see FAQ for details) and travelers do not need to complete a Safe Travels application for travel between islands. Pre-travel testing is not required for interisland travel.

Beginning July 3, Safe Travels will implement a new security feature. New travelers who create an account in Safe Travels will need to create a password that must be a minimum of 10 characters. Existing account holders in Safe Travels who reset their password will also need to create a new password with a minimum of 10 characters.

Beginning July 8, Hawai‘i-bound domestic travelers vaccinated in the United States or U.S Territories will be able to participate in the vaccine exception program. The program allows these travelers to bypass the state’s quarantine requirement with proof of vaccination. Travelers vaccinated in the U.S. or U.S. Territories may participate in the exception program starting on the 15 th day after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine — or starting the 15 th day after their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Please visit the following websites for specific travel information to each County: Maui, Kauai, Hawaii Island, and Honolulu.

Traveler ALERT. The State of Hawaii DOES NOT charge fees to apply for the Safe Travels program, or to create a Safe Travels account, or to access the Safe Travels application, or for Safe Travels information. The OFFICIAL STATE OF HAWAII websites for the State of Hawaii’s Safe Travels Program are https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/ and https://travel.hawaii.gov/. The websites listed below are NOT affiliated with the State of Hawaii or the State of Hawaii Safe Travels Program.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Safe Travels Digital Platform Technical Assistance

You may submit a request online to the Safe Travels Service Desk:
SUBMIT A REQUEST

Safe Travels Digital Platform Technical Service Desk (10 a.m. to 10 p.m. HST): 1-855-599-0888
Calls outside of working hours will go to voicemail and be returned the next business day.

Call: 1-800-GOHAWAI or (1-800-464-2924)

AlohaSafeAlert

All travelers are encouraged to download the AlohaSafe Alert app to stay informed about possible exposures to COVID-19. This app is voluntary and free to use. As the official State of Hawai‘i exposure notification app, it aims to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Hawaii.

Maui visitors with questions about county-specific travel requirements and AlohaSafe Alert may email: [email protected]

Safe Travels Health Pass Support

Questions? Contact ClearMe’s Member Care team by opening the CLEAR app and tapping “Get in Touch” at the bottom of the Home Screen or call 1-855-CLEARME (253-2763).

Phone support: Call +1 (888) 445-9072 (toll-free) or +1 (347) 486-6246

Phone support is available Monday – Friday 9am – 9pm EST.

You can chat with AZOVA’s Customer Support team for comprehensive support, including help with your account, testing, shipping, and results. They typically respond within 5 minutes or less. Click the on chat button at https://www.azova.com/hawaii/ to get started. Click the messaging icon on the lower right corner of the page to get started.

Talk with Customer Support

You can call the dedicated support line using the number below. Please note that wait times may vary depending on call volume.