You've booked your accommodation, made sure your passport hasn't expired, you have your plane tickets ready to go, and you have even contacted your credit card company to let them know that you'll be out of the country. You're ready for your trip to England. Or are you? Planning ahead for currency exchange can ensure that you get the best exchange rate and don't get caught with unsightly charges or issues on your travels.
On our first trip overseas, we were concerned about landing in London and not having any pounds (GBP or £) in our wallets. Novice travelers, we wanted to make sure we got the best exchange rate and didn't end up somewhere shady. So, we visited our local bank; they sent away for the money we needed and we picked it up at the bank a few days later. They didn't charge an additional fee since we had an account there (though check your bank for their guidelines).
We did have an issue because they sent us large denominations. Most small establishments in the UK are cautious when accepting anything larger than 20 GBP, concerned that they're easy to forge and with employees not trained in spotting counterfeit money. So be aware when accepting £50 from your bank in the United States.
Currency Exchange Counter: Hotels, Shops, Airport, Free-Standing
Because travel throughout Europe is so common, and because the British use the pound while most of the rest of the region use the euro, you'll find plenty of currency exchange counters in airports, big cities, and even smaller towns. Many department stores in the UK will have a currency exchange counter, and larger hotels may also be able to exchange currency for you for a small fee. You can be guaranteed of genuine currency when exchanging in this manner. However, make sure you're getting a good rate and check the fine print when determining their fees. Check a reliable online currency center before you exchange money to guarantee that you're getting the most bang for your buck.
Once we became seasoned travelers, a British ATM became our currency exchange location of choice. We always got the current day's exchange rate. The fee our bank charged for an out-of-network ATM was only a few dollars. We never had to worry about running out of money because there was always a British ATM around and we never worried about being taken. We used this method of currency exchange without issue in the UK, France, Italy, and throughout our travels in Europe.
We did learn, however, that when using an overseas ATM our best bet was to take out large sums. 20 GBP here and there meant the bank fees added up; taking out 200 GBP was a better choice.
Written by Kelly Herdrich
Content provided by Yahoo! Voices