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Originally published July 10, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 10, 2007 at 9:31 PM

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American Express to drop prepaid travel card

American Express will drop its pre-paid Travelers Cheque card after years of prodding consumers to use it in place of paper traveler's checks...

Seattle Times travel writer

American Express will drop its pre-paid Travelers Cheque card after years of prodding consumers to use it in place of paper traveler's checks.

Amex began phasing out the card in late June and will end the program October 31 when it will refund customers any balances remaining on their cards. The card, introduced in 2003 as the Travel Funds card, was designed to be preloaded with cash and used to make purchases with merchants who accept the American Express card or for withdrawals from ATMs, but it failed to catch on with those customers who had grown used to using paper traveler's checks, said Amex spokesman Rob Sherman.

Use of traveler's checks has been on the wane as people have turned towards accessing cash at ATMs, but Amex says there's still a market for the paper checks.

"It's still a big business in the United States and Western Europe," and in countries such as India, Mexico and Russia where Sherman said "customers use them as an alternative to keeping cash at home."

Like most pre-paid cards, the Amex Travelers Cheque cards weren't an especially good deal for travelers. There was a $14.95 initiation fee, a $2.50 fee for each ATM withdrawal and a 2 percent conversion fee for foreign currency transactions.

Amex says it will refund the initial purchase fee for anyone who bought a card within the last 12 months.

Carol Pucci: 206-464-3701 or cpucci@seattletimes.com .

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