Travel Money Guide: Taking Money to The UK

taking money to the UKIf you’re organising a trip to the UK, then lucky you! The United Kingdom is one of the world’s top destinations for tourism due to its rich history and culture and stunning architecture. Before you depart on your trip, you are likely thinking of the best ways of taking money to the UK and throughout the duration of your trip. To help you decide, we’ve condensed all the different ways into this simple guide, without any of the jargon.

To compare providers and banks that will allow you exchange currency, you can view our comparison table. 

What will this guide cover?

  • Buying Great British Pounds (GBP) for your travels
  • How much should I plan to take on my trip?
  • The best cards to use in the UK

Buying GBP for your travels

There are various ways to buy your currency before you travel, each with different exchange rates and fees. It’s important to compare these rates before you buy your travel money.

How much should I plan to take on my trip?

Whether you choose to buy your currency in cash, or prefer to have your funds on a debit, credit or travel money card, it’s still important to know how much to take on your trip. To get an accurate idea, it’s worth doing some research on the costs of some things you plan to do in the UK.

Now, we don’t know what activities, you plan on doing on your trip, but we’ve put together a guide for you below that outline the average prices in the UK.

Daily Budget Low Mid High
Accommodation Dorm Beds (Hostels)

£15-£25 per night

Double room in hotel

£100-£200 per night

4 Star hotel

£200+ per night

Dining Café or Pub

£7-£11 per person

Popular Restaurant

£10-£20 per person

3 course meal

£50 per person

Travel Long Distance Coach

£15-£40

Long Distance Train

£20-£80

Car Rental

£35 per day

All prices are in GBP and are an estimate.

The best cards to use in the UK

When to travel to anywhere in the world, you generally tend to choose from three different cards to take with you:

The currency used in the UK is Great British Pounds (GBP). As this is one of the world’s stronger currencies, nearly all-major travel providers will allow you to pre-load and spend in this form.

It’s unusual for the UK to accept other forms of currency, although they do accept Euro in some places.

  • TIP: We would recommend keeping a small amount of cash with you on your trip, as on occasions, taxis or some restaurants or cafés will choose not to accept payment in card form.

Travel Cards

Travel cards aim to give you the best features of credit and debit cards, and are widely accepted by any merchant who normally offers card facilities. Note that although Visa and Mastercard travel cards are widely accepted, American Express is less so in smaller businesses.

A lot of travel cards also offer second cards, either free or on request, in case of theft or loss of your main card. This can be particularly handy if you lose your main card, as you still have access to your funds while you are abroad.

  • Depending on the bank, using international ATMs will attract certain fees and changes – do check with your provider before you leave to make sure you’re aware of any hidden costs.

We would recommend that you look for a travel card with a low re-load fee, as you never know when you will need to top up your funds. Some cards will have excellent offers and low fees, but will charge a percentage for your re-load fee – this can start to add up quite quickly if you need to re-load multiple times on your trip. Here are some cards we recommend, and others we don’t:

 

Good Bad
American Express Gold Rewards Card Travelex Prepaid Mastercard
Tangerine Thrive Chequing Travelex Cash Passport Mastercard
Qantas Cash Travel Card Multicurrency Cash Passport
Citi Everyday Account Suncorp Cash Passport

 

Some cards also offer reward points for the amount that you spend, so watch out for that if you are a frequent flyer points, or enjoy dining out etc.

Debit Cards

The major difference between debit and credit cards is that debit uses your own money, and credit cards are loans. Although you will avoid the cash advance fee by using your debit card, be aware that you will still attract other fees such as ATM withdrawal fees and currency conversion rates, so it is still important to check with your card issuer before you travel.

If you’re planning a trip to the UK and want to know more about fees and charges linked with either your travel, debit or credit card then call one of our experts at The Currency Shop.

Credit Cards

All major brands, such as Visa and Mastercard are accepted in many places in the UK, with American Express being less so. Like travel cards, credit cards will attract local ATM withdrawal fees. Unlike travel cards however, you will also be charged a currency conversion fee, and cash advance fee charged by the likes of Visa, Mastercard or Amex. To avoid this, we would recommend going for a pre-loaded credit card.

Case Study

Jess has been planning her trip to the UK now for a while, and has researched and planned all the activities and destinations her and her boyfriend want to go to while they’re over there. As Jess is a frequent traveller, she knows to avoid spending her CAD on her current account debit card while over there, as she will attract fees. She also doesn’t want to have the stress of carrying all of her cash around for the duration of the trip.

What Jess decides to do is research into the best travel card to take with her. As GBP is a strong and popular currency, all travel cards support it so she had the freedom to choose based on other benefits she might receive. She decided to go for the Travel card through her Canadian Bank. She pre-loaded it with enough for herself and her boyfriend for the entirety of the trip – this way she avoided a lot of the fees.

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