Some of us* are old enough to remember the “Don’t leave home without them” slogan for travelers checks. The FRED data in the graph trace the rise and fall of travelers checks outstanding: As of February 2016, the value is $2.4 billion, about where it was in the mid 1970s when American Express launched its aforementioned ad campaign. These checks hit their peak of $9.7 billion in August 1995. Note that the series shown here is not seasonally adjusted. So, as you’d expect, spikes do occur in the summers. However, that seasonality has diminished in recent years, which may indicate these checks aren’t being used as much for vacation travel.
* FRED isn’t quite as old as travelers checks, but will be celebrating a 25th birthday next week. Look for celebratory posts in the coming days. And by the way, FRED’s mobile app lets you view data on the go, so you truly don’t ever have to leave home without FRED.
How this graph was created: Search for “travelers checks,” select the monthly series that is not seasonally adjusted, and click “Add to Graph.”
Suggested by George Fortier.