Who am I?
I am a mode of carrying money when you are travelling abroad. I come in preprinted and fixed amounts of various denominations and can be used around the world except sanction countries (list of countries banned by the UN or the US for any financial transactions). I am available in various currencies: dollars, pound sterling, euro, yen, Canadian dollars and Australian dollars. Recently, American Express, which had introduced me initially, is offering me in yuan, too.
How to get me?
You can get me issued over the counter from banks, money changers or travel operators. You will need to do a bit of documentation to procure me: fill up a form and provide a copy of your passport and confirmed air ticket. After you make the payment, you will be required to sign your name on the upper left corner of each of my leaves. Your signature works as a security feature. You will be required to countersign on the lower left-hand corner at the point of redemption. If the signatures don’t match, then I won’t be accepted.
If you purchase me for a value below Rs50,000, you can pay in cash, but for a value above Rs50,000, you need to pay through a cheque or demand draft. Apart from the value you will use, you will have to pay a fee to get me issued depending on the issuer.
Where and how can you use me?
Not all stores, restaurants and hotels will accept me, but most will do. I will be accepted by most banks and foreign exchange bureaus as well.
You can directly use the cheque for transactions at stores and hotels. In case the bill is less than the value stored in me, you will get the change in local currency. Alternately, you can exchange me for local currency as soon as you reach another country.
You would be charged at most 2%—depending on the bank or money changer—of the value used to transact.
Benefits I offer
I don’t have an expiry date so you can keep me, encash me or put me back into your bank account whenever you want. You don’t need a personal identification number to use me and am not subject to telecommunication breakdowns or ATM unavailability.
What happens if I am lost or stolen?
If I am lost or stolen, you can call at the toll-free number of American Express. You can get another cheque issued or take cash in local currency. American Express will require you to provide the serial number mentioned on me and the date when you purchased me. You may be asked to report the loss to the police. You will have to fill up refund forms and give your identity proof. This will allow the issuer to verify the validity of your claim and the cheques.