04-23-2006, 01:26 PM
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Ann Arbor, MI USA
Concierge Level: 6
Re: Can you purchase travelers checks with a credit card?
Generally, no. You usually can't "buy" cash of any sort with credit cards for several reasons. Credit card companies make a lot of their money by charging the merchant (typically) 2-3% of the value of each purchase. So, if you bought travelers checks, you'd have to pay about $103 for every $100 dollars in travelers checks (plus the customary traveler's check fee) to compensate. However, credit card company rules and some state laws state that merchants cannot charge extra for credit card purchases, so the traveler's check issuer loses money by exchanging credit for cash. When you are allowed to get travelers checks, the credit card company considers it a cash advance, not a credit purchase. If you read the fine print, you'll find that you generally don't get reward points on cash advances (and you pay through the nose in other ways).
Why go through the trouble of purchasing travelers checks when you've already got the credit card? Are you trying to rack-up the rewards points before you travel? For domestic travel, I've seen no benefit to carrying travelers checks over credit cards. Both are comparably safe, both are relatively simple to replace if lost or stolen. I'll take travelers checks on trips out of the country since I need cash to exchange for various foreign currencies.