Money in London and the UK


While most European Union countries have switched over to the Euro, Britain has stuck with the Pound Sterling. The Pound’s £ symbol refers to librae, the Latin word for “weight”; the Pound is divided into one hundred pence, with 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 coins, and bank notes range from £5 to £50.

The Pound exchange rate tends to be unfavorable for North Americans and most Europeans; before visiting London, be sure to check the current rate and plan your travel budget accordingly.

Locally, the best rate of exchange will probably be from a bank. There are four main banks found all over the UK and London: NatWestBarclaysHSBC and Lloyd’s. While opening times vary with location, the majority will be open Mon-Fri from 9.30am-5.00pm and Sat 9.30am-1pm. UK banks are closed on all public holidays.

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You’ll find Bureau de Change at all of London’s airports and throughout the city, but while their long hours can make them a more convenient choice than banks, their rates aren’t as favorable. For the best comparison between the two options, check the Travelex website.

Credit cards are accepted just about everywhere (generally charging a 3% foreign transaction fee), and ATMs can be found at most banks and large supermarkets, like Sainsbury’s and Tesco.