In London recently I decided to spend an hour comparison-shopping on the sale of traveler's checks in dollars for pounds. The checks I had were MasterCard, issued by an S&L, in $100 denominations. On May 20 the pound was quoted in newspapers at 1.5186 dollars. I presented $200 in checks and asked how many pounds I would receive.
The results: Midland Bank paid 129.87 at a rate of 1.540, Lloyds Bank 128.96 at 1.551, Barclays 127 at 1.575, National Westminster 124.94 at 1.6 and a commercial check casher 116 at a rate of 1.724.
Barclays told me that they give a favorable rate on Visa travelers checks, as opposed to MasterCard. I do not know how American Express checks would compare.
Another way to obtain pounds is by an advance on a credit card. It is better if it is a debit card, so that the holder is not charged interest on the money advanced. The rate on this service on the above date was 1.551, or 128.96 for $200.
ARTHUR H. MANKIN