No. of Recommendations: 1
...apparently not even at the bank you buy them from. <LOL>,0,1287834.column

American Express Travelers and Gift Cheques are accepted like cash by tens of thousands of merchants.

But as John Walker of Southington learned this year, the bank that sold you the checks may not give you cash for them.

Walker went to his Webster Bank branch in Southington to purchase about $700 in travelers checks for vacation, as he has done for years. But this time, he returned home with $300 in unused checks.

He returned to his bank, where he has several accounts and a credit line, and tried to cash them.

No way, Walker was told. Too many of the checks are counterfeit, he was told.


To check how much of an issue this is nationally, I called Rob Sherman, the American Express spokesman for the division that handles travelers and gift checks.

Sherman assured me that this is not a big issue. He said he had never before heard of a bank refusing to accept a check it had sold to a customer.

He proudly told me that these checks are sold at about 80,000 locations and are accepted by tons of merchants.

But then I started asking pointed questions about the resistance of some banks in accepting them.

I asked him how many banks will accept the checks as cash without regard to where customers banked or bought them.

"It's up to the bank," he said, to make its own rules, including whether to charge for selling and accepting them. The checks are treated pretty much the same as personal checks, he said.

I told him about how my travelers checks were given to me in an envelope from American Express that said its Gift Cheques — which are basically the same as its Travelers Cheques — "are accepted virtually anywhere."

Then I threw him what turned out to be a curveball.

I asked him Wednesday to identify one bank in the United States where all branches would accept an American Express travelers or gift check from a non-customer who had purchased it from another institution.

Sherman assured me Thursday that many do, but said it was up to me to find them.


From Ameriprise Financial Advisors to Amex Travelers cheques, American Express is definitely a financial institution you want to avoid.

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