Re: "Traveler's Checks: Going South?" (Sept. 29): We just returned from a trip to Southeast Asia--to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Malaysia and Singapore. We didn't follow the advice of the article and took lots of traveler's checks and cash.
In Hong Kong we converted a $50 traveler's check to Hong Kong currency at a bank and were charged $6 U.S. money--we received back only $44.
Fortunately, we did take one charge card with us. We found out there is no fee charge, and you get the exchange rate of the day. In Singapore, one of the stores even gave us a 10% discount for using the credit card.
Serves us right for not listening to you!
We read with interest the ongoing discussion of traveler's checks vs. credit cards vs. cash. We recently returned from a tour in Turkey, which is experiencing an incredible inflation rate. In preparation for our visit, we had collected all three of the means of exchange: traveler's checks, cash and credit cards.
We quickly discovered that the main medium of exchange was pictures of deceased American presidents. No other medium was as widely or willingly accepted. Traveler's checks actually came in a distant third. When occasions came to use a traveler's check, we would receive an appreciably lower exchange rate than for cash. Credit cards, when accepted at all, were beyond the realm of negotiation so that we did not suffer by using them.
Most of our traveling companions were either Australians or Canadians, and we soon discovered that they had brought along American dollars as their primary argentum francum. We brought all but one of our traveler's checks home!
DR. RICHARD J. WARREN