US dollar travellers cheques (checks) can be purchased in various denominations (typically $25, $50 or $100) from most banks, travel agents like Thomas Cook, the Post Office and bureau de change outlets but check on any charges, sometimes there is up to a 1 to 2% fee.
They can be used in restaurants, shops, hotels etc. just like cash which means in theory you don’t have to visit a bank to change money (which is very handy). However they are not nearly as popular as they used to be and you may have problems using them in some situations.
With the increasing availability of ATM machines, people are much more likely to use credit/debit or pre-paid debit cards these days to pay for goods or services or to withdraw cash.
A lot of places do still accept travellers cheques and they will give you change in US dollars, though quite a few cashiers seem unclear on how to process them. You may still end up having to go to a bank to cash them and you may then be charged an additional transaction fee.
When using travellers cheques, don’t forget to take ID (such as your passport) with you as you will often be asked for ID when you countersign them.
Remember to keep the list of serial numbers separate from your wallet/purse in the unlikely event that you lose them so you can contact the appropriate authorities to cancel them and get replacements.
The big advantage of travellers cheques is the security. If you have the misfortune to lose any of them or have them stolen, they are usually 100 percent guaranteed and you can typically get replacements within 24 hours. Most travellers checks are issued under the American Express brand.
Do not think about taking foreign currency travellers cheques (such as Sterling or Euros) as you will only be able to cash them in some banks; it is very unlikely they will be accepted in any shops and restaurants.
Travellers cheques do not have an expiry date so if you have any left over they can be used on a future trip. Alternatively some companies will buy them back though like currency notes, the rate of exchange is not as good as when you bought them (difference between buy and sell rates).