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Money and traveling

Experienced travelers know that the last five years have seen major changes in the financial aspects of traveling: the introduction of the Euro, the public's desire to make travel easier and concerns over financial security. Following are some financial travel tips and how AAA Colorado can help.

Credit cards: Because they are safer than carrying cash, credit cards are ideal for travelers, although there is a fee (2% to 12%) to convert foreign purchases into U.S. dollars. Ask your credit card company what conversion rate it offers, and alert it to any upcoming overseas travel. Credit cards can be used in most places, and your debit card can also be used to get local currency at foreign ATMs. If necessary, change your PIN before traveling-European ATMs don't allow more than four digits. Many foreign ATMs have only numbers on their key pad, so if your PIN is a word, make sure you know the numerical equivalent.

Effective Feb. 1, AAA Colorado will no longer sell travelers' checks.

AAA offers two Visa credit cards, both with a 2% conversion rate. The WorldPoints AAA Visa card offers a variety of rewards that include flights, merchandise, gift cards and cash. The AAA Gas Rebate Visa card can earn up to a 5% rebate on pay-at-the-pump gas purchases. To apply for either card, call 866-665-3581 (mention code FABNFM for the WorldPoints card, or FAAPAJ for the Gas Rebate card) or go to www.aaa.com.

Travelers' checks and stored-value cards: Travelers' checks are not widely accepted today. A modern alternative is a stored-value card, which works like a pre-paid phone card, allowing you to load a card in advance with a chosen cash value. They are used like a debit card but are not attached to your bank account. Many stored-value cards have a set-up fee and most have currency conversion fees.

Effective Feb. 1, 2008, AAA Colorado will no longer sell travelers' checks and will offer instead the Visa TravelMoney card. This stored-value card is pre-loadable (minimum $100), re-loadable, easy to replace if stolen, not attached to any personal account, and is accepted wherever Visa debit cards are (including ATMs). It can be purchased at select AAA offices and online at www.aaa.com.

Cash: International travelers know how convenient it is to have a small amount of local currency available upon arrival for such things as luggage handling, cabs and meals. Beginning in February, select AAA Colorado offices will sell foreign currency TipPaks, which are pre-packaged with U.S. $100 worth of either Euros, British pounds, Canadian dollars or Mexican pesos.

EnCompass