If you run short of money while away from home, how can you lay hands on some ready cash?
This is an important question for vacationers, who may not be used to solving financial emergencies on the road. Even business travelers accustomed to paying their way with credit cards sometimes run short of money if a trip is longer than expected.
If you carry the major bank cards, restaurant cards, a gasoline card or American Express, you can usually charge a good part of the expenses. Some travelers use credit cards at the start of a trip, then swtich to cash once they're pretty sure their money will last.
But there are plenty of situations where credit cards aren't enough. If you car breaks down, for exapmle, the mechanic will want cash. You also need money for all the minor expenses, like highway tolls, admission fees and hamburgers.
If you're traveling in the United States, many places will cash a check, as long as you have sufficient identification. Large hotels or motels, for example, may accept checks in payment for a night's lodging. American Express garantees payment of a cardholder's check up to $50 at motels or hotels around the world - something you might point out if you are a cardholder and the hotel seems reluctant. With a little ingenuity, you should be able to find other places that will accept a check. For example, if you're spending a week at a summer cottage, a local grocer may let yoy charge food purchases and pay by check at the end of the stay.
Alternatively, go to a local bank, explain that you've run short of money, and ask to cash a check. Most banks will do so, after calling your home bank and having that sum debited from your account. If traveling abroad, you might also get this service from an American bank in a foreign city, although there will be a delay while your account is checked.
If vacationing in just one or two spots, ask your bank in advance whether it has a "correspondent bank" in the area, through which it does business. If dealing with a correspondent of your home bank, in the United States or abroad, you may be able to have money wired direct from your checking account.
A precaution is to travel with sufficient identification, in case you have to prove to a bank who you are. Keep the cards or papers separate from your money, so if a purse or wallet is stolen you won't lose the identification, too.
If holding a bank credit card that entitles you to a line of credit, you can usually get money through any bank issues the same card. The virtue of bank cards is that you can raise money even if there's nothing in your bank account. You simply draw on your line of credit - in effect, getting a long-distance loan. Keep a note of your bank card numbers so they can be used as a reference if the cards are stolen.