Trouble converting US currency

My wife and I departed for Amsterdam on April 3, ’06. We were to be there for five days, departing on Sunday the 9th for London Heathrow, where our driver would meet us and take us to Bath to stay three nights, stopping by Blenheim Palace on the way. We then would stay three nights in Shaftesbury, finally heading into London on the 16th for a stay of four nights. To complicate money matters, the 17th was Easter Sunday and Monday would be a bank holiday.

The plan was that we would leave home with enough euros for Amsterdam and enough British pounds to last until the Monday in Bath. We then would cash travelers’ checks as needed.

We usually use American Express Travelers Checques, cashing them at AmEx offices to avoid fees. I could not find an address for AmEx in Bath or Shaftesbury, so I called American Express. I was told that the post office in Bath would cash the checks but that they probably wouldn’t cash over $50 without prior notice.

Faced with an extra expense for AmEx transactions, we opted to take cash. We took three 50-dollar bills and the rest in 100s.

Monday morning in Bath, I went to a Lloyds of London to change $200 and was courteously told that because there had been a rash of counterfeit 100s the previous year, the bank’s policy was to not accept them. They would accept 20s and 50s. Our driver had an account with them, so he asked if they could cash them against his account, which they agreed to do.

Thursday morning in Shaftesbury, I went to a NatWest Bank to cash $400. They said that it would take a little while because two tellers had to verify them, using photographs.

At a post office in London on Tuesday, 100s were accepted only after they had run them through a scanner.
Our advice — be prepared for inconvenience until our currency catches up with the security technology that other currencies have.

West Des Moines, IA