Planning a trip to the UK? The United Kingdom is a time-honored travel destination for Americans heading to Europe. Whether it be for business or vacation, The UK is not the cheapest travel destination. While there are many different ways for you to take money to the UK, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind.
Purchasing Pounds for Travel
Depending on which bank or currency exchange you go with, rates and fees can vary quite a bit. So always shop around.
To check out our top tips for buying currency, click here
How much money should I take to the UK?
Traveling with a decent reserve of cash is generally a good idea. If the ATM doesn’t work or something goes wrong with a credit card you’ll be covered. Be sure to keep your money in more than one location, so if your wallet gets stolen it won’t ruin you.
Everyone’s lifestyle and budget are a bit different, here are some general guidelines to follow:
|DAILY BUDGET (London)||Low||Mid||High|
£15-25 per night
£100-200 per night
£200-300 per night
|Cafe or pub
£10-20 for main course
£40 for three-course meal
|Long-distance Bus £15-40 (300 km)||Long-distance train
Starting at £35 a day
*All prices are estimated in Great Britain Pounds
Which Card Should I Use To Take Money To The UK?
If you’re traveling to the UK you have three basic options in terms of cards:
- Credit Card
- Travel Card
- Debit Card
The currency used in the UK is the Pound sterling (£). Euros are accepted in some places. However, the exchange rate is generally poor so it’s best to steer clear of Euros.
The Pound is one of the world’s strongest currencies and almost every travel card provider should let you preload in Pounds.
While travelers from the rest of the world have been using prepaid travel cards for years, they are a relatively new phenomenon for American travelers. Travel cards (such as the ones offered by Amex or MasterCard) combine the features of debit and credit cards and are widely accepted in the UK.
Be forewarned, though, smaller businesses are less likely to accept travel cards than big ones so it makes sense to always have two payment options if you run into this.
Another issue you may face is this: some retailers require an ID check to use the card. Many travel cards do not have names printed on them so in a few cases this can lead to rejection.
Most banks are going to charge you extra fees to use an ATM internationally. So before you leave be sure you understand these details.
When looking for the right travel card, aim for one with low re-load fees. This can save you a lot especially if you plan to make a lot of transactions.
If your trip will extend beyond the UK be sure to go for one with the flexibility to work in other countries.
Some cards offer built-in reward points, which can be redeemed for flights, hotels, etc — be sure to survey all the options before deciding.
Planning on reloading your card a lot? Try the following cards:
Every major brand (or bank) of US issued credit cards are accepted in the United Kingdom, so good news there.
If you want to take a cash advance on your credit card be aware that you’ll be charged fees by your credit card issuer and likely by local ATM operators also.
Preloading your card with your own money is one way to try to dodge fees, but when you do this it leaves you without the normal fraud protection you have on your credit card.
In essence, credit cards are loans that attract high interest and fees. Debit cards, on the other hand, are direct withdrawals from your bank account.
Using a debit card abroad can also be costly and this is due to conversion rates and withdrawal fees. Be sure to check with your bank so you understand these ahead of time. These costs can add up dramatically over multiple transactions.
Similar to credit cards, debit cards can be subjected to annual fees and surcharges tacked on by merchants.
To help you get a handle on the best to way to take money with you on your next trip to the UK talk to our team of travel money experts at The Currency Shop.