We travel a lot internationally, and use Amex, Visa and MC as well as ATMs. American Express now charges a 2% fee on international charges (its built-in to their exchange rate) and most other cards also charge 2 or 3%. ATMs will generally give you the best overall rate...but this depends on your own ATM bank and whether they assess additional fees (mine does not). Cashing Travelers checks does not really get you a great rate these days, and you will normally need your passport or some good picture ID since there are lots of conterfeit TCs in Europe. So, how do we handle our cash on long trips (we are in Europe as long as 6 weeks)? We generally get all of our cash with ATMs. In order to get some additional protection in case an ATM does not work, my wife and i have seperate ATM cards from different banks. We also carry some TCs as an emergency back-up,,, but have not needed these in the past 10 years. We also make liberal use of our credit cards. A very important point is that you should notify your ATM bank (and Visa/MC) of your itinerary before you leave home in order to avoid any security problems based on the change in your spending patterns. With AMEX we have never had a problem.,,, but both VISA and MC (and the ATMs) can cut you off if they can't verify why your card is being used in strange places. Another tip is that you should have a 4 digit PIN for your ATM and know that PIN in numbers (many European ATMs do not have letters). If your ATM card fails to work in an ATM, simply walk away and try a different machine with a different financial institution. Europe has ATMs everywhere (often several per block in most cities).