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Cash in Laos? or Travelers Checks?

Travel Forums Asia Cash in Laos? or Travelers Checks?

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1. Posted by gino94 (Budding Member 2 posts) 6y

I will be in Laos for 1 month. I have saved cash and I do not want to put it in the bank! I also do not want to travel with tons of cash for that amount of time. I was thinking of putting some of it into travelers checks, but will I be able to get money from them in Laos? Any help would be much appreciated!
Thanks you !!!!
Gino

2. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 6y

I haven't travelled with travellers cheques ever in my life, and everyone I've ever spoken to that does travel with them says it's the last time they will be doing so :) So I'd definitely not recommend travellers cheques... they tend to be expensive, and finding a bank that will cash them can be hard (plus you are tied down to bank opening hours). In addition, most banks take a fee both at buying and cashing in stage!

I guess if your choice is cash or travellers cheques, then sure, it's will be a little safer to not be carrying around that much cash.

The easiest/safest/cheapest would of course be putting the money in a bank and just using an ATM card to take it out though.

3. Posted by Refinity (Budding Member 23 posts) 6y

Lol trav cheques. Who still uses them?
Last time I heard ppl wanting to exchange them was bout 10 yrs ago in Africa.. somewhere.

They did get a better dollar price tho...

I recommend taking your bankcard with you.. goes much easier:p

4. Posted by gino94 (Budding Member 2 posts) 6y

One issue I have about putting it in the bank is then "some one " knows I have money. I am a bartender and I have lots of untaxed cash and I want to keep it that way! THat is why I was wondering about travelers checks. is it tracable. maybee I should just go with cash!
thanks

5. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1592 posts) 6y

Quoting Sam I Am

I haven't travelled with travellers cheques ever in my life, and everyone I've ever spoken to that does travel with them says it's the last time they will be doing so :) So I'd definitely not recommend travellers cheques... they tend to be expensive, and finding a bank that will cash them can be hard (plus you are tied down to bank opening hours). In addition, most banks take a fee both at buying and cashing in stage!

I guess if your choice is cash or travellers cheques, then sure, it's will be a little safer to not be carrying around that much cash.

The easiest/safest/cheapest would of course be putting the money in a bank and just using an ATM card to take it out though.

I use travelers checks! But there are some countries where they are a benefit and some where the exchange fee eats up any advantage! But the primary advantage of travelers checks is safety!

I have a couple US credit union accounts that will issue travelers checks without any charge if you are a member - so cost is not a problem! I only get the largest denominations available because any fee to cash them may be per check. In Thailand, for instance, a travelers check is very easy to cash and they get a hair more than ordinary cash. (Just changing money in general is easy in Thailand compared to other Asian countries. One reason is because majority of the money changers are real banks or mini bank branches with convenient times and locations.) The fee to cash a TC is only 33 baht compared to a fee of 150 baht to use an ATM for the same amount of money. For Thailand travelers checks are a benefit especially if you can get them without any commission!

For Laos, the few times I went there, I brought US dollars with me. I did change some dollars over to Lao Kip for purchases that were less than a dollar or when it appeared that an item would be cheaper using Kip. In the border areas with Thailand you can also use some Thai baht. Don't leave Laos with their currency because no one wants it!

Laos also has some ATM's now. I just went with cash and picked a place that had security storage, preferably with a safety box or safe. Laos is one of the few places I actually used a money belt when I was in cheap places. I do record any travelers check serial numbers and serial numbers of my large denomination US currency in email form that I send to myself and then save in a folder. If some money comes up missing at least I have the serial numbers. I also include in that email that I save the address and contact numbers of the travelers check company. I find it handy to save a lot of "must remember" information in email form - but with password protection!

Here is a couple of many hundreds of links on the net for money in Laos:
http://www.frommers.com/destinations/laos/2411020005.html
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1575342

Have fun in Laos.

6. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1992 posts) 6y

Most people used travelers checks years ago (before we had electronic sources like ATM's and PC's). As long as one observes certain basic consumer banking rules for international travel (keeping the bank up to date on your whereabouts), I can't see any advantage in going back to using such old fashioned methods. One of these days, all paper transactions will be eliminated at banks.

7. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 6y

Quoting Refinity

Lol trav cheques. Who still uses them?
Last time I heard ppl wanting to exchange them was bout 10 yrs ago in Africa.. somewhere.
They did get a better dollar price tho...

I used travel checks in VN & Thailand in '08 was happy I had them. Better exchange rate and if lost, you have a shot at getting your money back. TCs also take up less room than cash in a undergarmet pouch. TCs may be old school, but they still have advantages over cash, ATM cards.

8. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1592 posts) 6y

Quoting Daawgon

Most people used travelers checks years ago (before we had electronic sources like ATM's and PC's). As long as one observes certain basic consumer banking rules for international travel (keeping the bank up to date on your whereabouts), I can't see any advantage in going back to using such old fashioned methods. One of these days, all paper transactions will be eliminated at banks.

It depends on the country you are visiting! When you can get travelers checks without any charge through a bank or credit union and when you get a hair more in exchange than ordinary cash - that is pretty good! Right now in Thailand with a fee of 150 baht per ATM use - only paying 33 baht to cash a TC is not a bad deal! It may be old fashioned and even perhaps in the future they will be completely obsolete - but as long as they are a good deal in certain situations or countries I will always get them!

When cashing them in Thailand the banks do as you difficult questions like "please hand over your passport for a minute" and then they ask another couple difficult questions like "what hotel are you staying in and what is the room number?"

When your ATM card doesn't come out of the ATM machine or you damage it and it becomes unusable a couple travelers checks stuffed away for backup comes in handy!

9. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 6y

Quoting gino94

One issue I have about putting it in the bank is then "some one " knows I have money. I am a bartender and I have lots of untaxed cash and I want to keep it that way! THat is why I was wondering about travelers checks. is it tracable. maybee I should just go with cash!
thanks

Gino,
I was casino dealer in Vegas for 10 years, we know about tips in cash! Back in the 70-80s, much of our tips went unreported. Cash in your pocket and out the door. The IRS was not happy and have since closed that loophole.

American Express has many locations where you can buy TCs w/o having a bank account with them. Put in your zip code and see what is offered close to your house. CALL FIRST. I found out that some banks have dropped TCs altogether. Good luck.

10. Posted by Refinity (Budding Member 23 posts) 6y

Hey Vegasmike
I have no clue what a TC cashes in. Can you give me an estimate on what a 100 US dollar TC in baht brings?
Also, are they 100% safe (eg stolen and cashed in at some dubious place)?
I have seen ppl where the TC have been stolen.. but the ATM card was untouched.

I have been travelling for 15 years in a row now, 10 week trips each year, and most ppl with TC have always loads of probs cashing m in. (banking hours or finding a bank that accepts them) I admit, most jokes were in Africa, like only 1 bank and also only 1 ATM and such... but still.

Are they also accepted in an exchange office?

Thanks for the intel
Toine