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Call Kurtis Investigates: How Do I Cash Unused Traveler's Checks?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Back before credit cards were massively used, people used traveler's checks to protect their money when going abroad.

They were as good as cash and could be replaced if lost or stolen. Nowadays, traveler's checks are the dinosaur of currency.

Currency that should never lose its value, thought Sacramento resident Lou Vismara.

Vismara recently found a treasure while going through his mom's books, after she passed away nearly a decade ago. Inside one of her books, he found an envelope with 10 uncashed traveler's checks, worth a $1,000.

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"I have no idea when she got those traveler's checks, there's no date on them," said Vismara.

With a Bank of America logo on the checks where his mom banked for four decades, he went to the BofA branch to cash them.

"They said, 'geez we don't issue traveler's checks anymore,'" he said.

Vismara says BofA refused to honor them.

He says that they blew him off, "'It's not our problem, you deal with it.'"

Beth Mills with The California Bankers Association admits redeeming traveler's checks may be a bit trickier, with fewer stores accepting them, but says that do not expire.

CBA recommends that you first try depositing them into your bank account.

However, in Vismara's case, Mills says, "To get the value back, he'd have to be contacting the issuer to get the money."

The issuer of the checks, despite the Bank of America and Visa logos, is Interpayment Services LTD.

We have learned that Interpayment Services LTD. is now Travelex in England, which will pay Vismara if he mails the checks to Europe.

To avoid sending $1,000 in an envelope to Europe, we asked Vismara to try depositing them into his bank account. Bringing along paperwork showing he is the executor of his mom's estate.

Guess what? That worked.

Vismara says it reminds him of a lesson he learned long ago.
"Never take no for an answer if you don't believe it's right," he said.

He is disappointed with the bank his mom used for 40-years that would not redeem traveler's checks sporting their logo.

"I think it's really, really bad business," said Vismara.

Bank of America insists it was not the issuer of the checks, but more like a third party provider.

We have learned all major banks including BofA will let you deposit uncashed traveler's checks that are in your name into your account.

Most banks like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, no longer issue traveler's checks, and many merchants will not honor them.

It is all about the convenience of plastic nowadays.

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