American Express use in London

Jun 22nd, 2003, 09:55 AM
  #1  
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American Express use in London

Hi,
I'm a student going to London for my first time for a month...I'm curious as to how widely accepted AmEx is there.
Also, I have heard from many that ATM cards are the way to get cash at the lowest rate but my parents are insistent on me taking travellers checks (they're very anti-ATM) can anyone advise as to the rate differences?

Thanks,
Adrianne
amorse1 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 10:14 AM
  #2  
 
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ATM are by far the best way to get cash. Travelers Checks are very expensive. You either get £ travelers checks which are expensive to buy, or you get $ travelers checks which are expensive to cash. either way you pay 10% or more to use travelers checks. You can take a few $ TCs for an emergency back-up stash. But you will save a LOT of money using an ATM card.

As for Amex - Usage is pretty much like the States. Not as widely accepted as Visa/MC, but still good many/most places.
janis is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 10:15 AM
  #3  
 
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amorse1==

My neice spent 6 mos in France and 6 mos in London and she only took a very very small amount of travellers checks..BUT she did take an ATM card and used it all the time....

She also got pickpocketed in the subway in London by wearing her backpack on the BACK and not on her CHEST as you are told to do going up and down the subway ramps....That is where she lost everything and my sis had to stop all credit cards .....major hassle, but stuff happens.....

andy is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 12:57 PM
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Travelers checks are expensive and a hassle. Many small places won't accept them. When cashing them at a bank, you either pay stiff fees, get lousy exchange rate, or both. I'd figure on losing 15% (I haven't used them in many years, but my mom used to until she realized what it was costing her).

Credit cards are very widely accepted, though Visa/MC are more universal than Amex.
curmudgeon is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 01:51 PM
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If I go to a AAA office and buy £ denominated American Express checks and take them down to the office in the Haymarket office in London for exchange to pounds sterling, what kind of a fee do I get charged? Of course, the cost must be pegged to the wholesale bank rate to have any relevance.
bob_brown is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 02:05 PM
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I ALWAYS buy my £ in ATMs with my American bank debit card because it gives me the best rate, but then my bank doesn't impose foreign transaction charges. Typically US banks will charge about $3 per transaction, which has to be factored into the exchange rate. Therefore, if you withdrew £50 from an ATM, the charge would be 6 cents per £, but a withdrawal of £100 would cost only 3 cents per £. Find out what your bank will charge, and do some arithmetic.

I also use my US debit card (which has a Mastercharge logo) for sterling purchases, and get the same low exchange rate.

As for Amex, most of the larger hotels and department stores take it, but smaller establishments prefer Visa or Mastercharge.
Heimdall is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 03:46 PM
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As others have said, most places (stores etc.) take Am Ex cards, but have a MC or VISA for backup.

Sorry ot hear that your parents are "very anti-ATM," their irrational policy is going to cost them!

One compromise would be to take TC's in dollars (which you can get free form AAA) just in case, and then if you don't use them you can just re-deposit htem, and haven't lost double on the exchange, as you would if you took TCs in pounds and didn't use them.
Anonymous is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 03:51 PM
  #8  
ira
 
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Hi amorse,

If your parents are concerned that their bank account might be vulnerable to being looted, suggest that they open one for you and put whatever money they were going to give you in TC's into that account.

It is much cheaper to use the ATMs. The last time I used AMEX TCs (in sterling) I could find only one bank that didn't charge me a fee to cash the checks.
ira is online now  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 05:03 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
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Take your parent's travelers checks for emergencies - keep stashed separately. ALso make copies of your credit cards, ATM and passport in case of loss or theft. Make sure your folks have these as well as it is easier for them to call in case of disaster and you'll have some travelers checks. Also get a local London student ID - very handy for discounts and more easily replaceable. But ATM cards are really the way to go - just like any city and I'm a MOM... who also had to "refill" the bank account from home...have fun and invite them to come over for a short vacation after you've been there a while. After that they won't worry as much (or not?)
weski is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 07:57 PM
  #10  
 
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if your parents insist on trav cks then get amex travelers checks....you can cash them for free at the american express office which is near picadilly....there is also an amex atm machine to get cash there with your card....get a pin number from amex
rhkkmk is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 12:30 AM
  #11  
 
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Amex is widely accepted but understand this and understand this well...there are many merchants (the underground for one who take MC/Visa but do not take Amex but I haven't come across a single merchant who takes Amex but doesn't take MC/Visa.
xyz123 is offline  
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