Let's talk money
Before you visit anywhere new, it's a good idea to find out about the currency and exchange rate, and how you can get hold of cash or use your credit card while you are away. Here you'll find some useful information about currency and making money transactions in the UK to help make your...
Britain’s unit of currency is the Great British Pound (sterling) – GBP. The symbol for the pound sterling is £. For more information on British currency check the Bank of England website.
British money is based on the decimal system – there are one hundred pence to each pound. Coins have the values of 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. Notes have the values of £5, £10, £20 and £50. Scottish £1 notes are still in circulation in Scotland. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man have some different coins and notes from the mainland but the monetary system is the same.
If you are an EU citizen and travelling from within the EU you can bring in and take out bank notes, travellers' cheques, letters of credit etc. in any currency and up to any amount.
Please note that from 15 June 2007, if you are travelling to or from a country outside the European Union (EU), you will need to declare any sums of cash of 10,000 Euro or more (or the equivalent in another currency) to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, post offices, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centres. To see today’s exchange rate visit the Financial Times currencies website.
Banks are generally open from 09:30 to 16:30 Monday to Friday. However, opening hours are can differ considerably from branch to branch. All banks are closed on public holidays and some banks in Scotland close for an hour at lunchtime. Many banks have 24-hour banking lobbies where you can access a range of services via machines. Visitors from overseas should check with their own bank whether they will be able to gain access to these facilities.
Some banks are open on Saturdays and a few are open for a few hours on Sundays. If you need British currency when the banks are closed, you can obtain it at larger high-street travel agents, in exchange offices in large department stores, at counter desks in larger hotels or at one of the many independent Bureau de Change. Regulations require all Bureau de Change to clearly display all exchange rates and full details of any fees and rates of commission.
You’ll find Automated Teller Machines (ATM), or cash machines, as we often call them, at most banks, high streets and shopping centres. You can use international credit cards, debit cards and bank cards at ATMs providing they have a four-digit PIN encoded. As a general rule, any cash machine that displays the Visa badge can be used by Plus cardholders and those displaying the MasterCard badge can be used by Cirrus cardholders.
All credit cards that bear the Visa, MasterCard or American Express logo are widely accepted in Britain. If your card does not bear one of these logos, you should ask the retailer in advance if you can use it, or check if your card’s logo is displayed at the payment area. You should be aware that retailers can charge more for goods and services bought by credit card, but they must display a clear indication if any price increase applies.