AAA Offers Busy Travelers Advice On Money For Travel

Orlando, Fla., July 24, 2003

Now that you have booked your family’s flights and hotel rooms, made a packing list, and bought your travel guidebooks and maps, you’re ready to go on vacation, right? Maybe not yet, warns AAA. 

“You should give as much thought to what you’re going to pack in your wallet as you do your suitcase,” says Tom Wilt, managing director, AAA Partnership Programs. “And to satisfy today’s on-the-go consumer we have to offer good advice on a range of secure payment options that meet the needs of travelers anywhere in the world.”

To do that, AAA – along with partners Visa and Travelex — developed “AAA Travel Money” which includes several payment products: foreign currency, travelers cheques, a prepaid card, and a credit card.

“With AAA Travel Money, travelers have a diverse portfolio of convenient payment products, the world-class payment brand of Visa, global acceptance and a worldwide ATM network that provides easy access to local currencies,” Wilt says.

Prepaid cards have been gaining in popularity because they look and act like a bank’s ATM card, so people feel more comfortable using them. Travelers can load the desired amount of money onto a prepaid card prior to leaving home, then access cash whenever it’s needed at most ATMs worldwide.

If the prepaid card is lost or stolen, a PIN protects the money from being accessed and the cash balance on the card can be replaced quickly, unlike an ATM card. Additionally, a second card is available to keep in a hotel safe or for a traveling companion. The second card accesses the same funds with a different PIN. If you run out of cash, the card is reloadable online or by calling a toll-free number.

Travelers should purchase foreign currency prior to leaving for a trip abroad. Since most people will plan a foreign destination vacation far in advance, they can purchase currency when exchange rates are most favorable. They also can avoid standing in line at foreign airport currency exchange booths and paying expensive exchange fees.

Travelers cheques are probably the best known form of travel money and AAA is the largest provider of travelers cheques in the world. They are more secure than cash because they can be replaced quickly in an emergency. Dual signature checks make it easy for families traveling together to have access to funds even when family members are separated. Travelers also can buy foreign currency travelers cheques in the United States prior to leaving for a trip abroad to save on currency exchange rates in foreign countries.

Finally, credit cards have the benefit of being easy to use and widely accepted throughout the world. Most of them usually provide some insurance against theft if something purchased is stolen, and if the card is stolen there is a limit on liability for purchases not made by the cardholder. Another advantage of credit cards is they make large purchases possible without having to carry sizable amounts of cash or travelers cheques.

AAA can assist and advise travelers on decisions about payment methods before they begin their trip. AAA offers these tips for use while on the road:

  • Use local cash for small things such as tips, short taxi rides or public transportation. For those traveling abroad, if you anticipate needing cash as soon as you arrive – for a cab to a hotel, for example – then it will be less expensive to buy foreign cash before you leave the United States rather than pay exchange fees at the airport when you arrive.
  • Get cash from an ATM with a prepaid card or use travelers cheques for most items such as admission tickets to attractions or museums, average meals or souvenirs.
  • Use the credit card for big ticket items, such as hotel bills, expensive dinners, or major purchases such as artwork or jewelry. Remember, you will be charged an exchange rate when traveling outside the US, and this will appear on your credit card statement.

AAA Travel Money is available at participating AAA offices, online at, or by calling 866-339-3378 toll free.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides nearly 46 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

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