Best place to change $ to GBP in London

Old Mar 16th, 2004, 11:58 AM
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Best place to change $ to GBP in London

AAA here stopped selling currency and no time to get more than some starter currency at the airport.

So, I will arrive with credit card and US cash. Where can I get best rates? Someone mentioned post office in another thread; is that for travelers checks exchange only?

Am I making a mistake not to go to my own bank here?
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 12:02 PM
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Check with your bank. You can always use an ATM at the airport when you arrive in London. We always get some cash from our bank and skip the airport ATM when we arrive.
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 12:28 PM
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Do a search for "currency exchange" here and you'll find lots of info.

The overwhelming majority opinion is that you're making a mistake getting foreign currency in the US, and that you're making a mistake changing dollars overseas. Instead - use your ATM as Bob said. You'll get the best exchange rate there by far, and it's easy.

Some people do prefer to get a small amount of cash before they leave home, or at an airport exchanger so that they don't have to deal with ATMs at the airport upon arrival. It's a personal preference, and for a small amount of money, who's to quibble with you?
 
Old Mar 16th, 2004, 12:39 PM
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Just deposit all that US$ cash back into your checking account and use your ATM card to get £ anywhere in London. You shouldn't be carrying huge amounts of $ or £ cash anyway. Just use your ATM card to get cash as you need it - that by FAR will get you the best exchange rates.
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 12:39 PM
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As Jenifer said, the days of exchanging hard currency (paper money) are pretty much over. Best idea is get a small amount of GBP here (either at your bank or the airport) for your first day or so and use ATM machines there.
Note, ATM withdrawals usually come from your checking acct (not savings) so make sure you have enough $$ to cover withdrawals. Also, some say you should have a pin number no longer than 4 digits. If yours is longer, you can change it before leaving.

I put as much as possible on credit cards(call your credit cards before leaving to let them know you'll be in the UK). It gives me a record of what I spent & is usually a good exchange rate.
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 12:56 PM
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Like everyone else said, forget currency exchange and just use ATM's to withdraw GBP. I bring some US cash with me just as a back up but don't exchange it unless I absolutely have to.
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Hi ....

I live in the UK & have travelled to the US & Europe a lot recently. It never even occurs to me to take GBP abroad. I go to the ATM, type my pin number & get the money out in the local currency. I may take 50 of the local currency with me ... but more often than not I don't.

If you want to use your credit card, well just ask your card company for a pin number (4-digits).

In a number of stores in the UK (eg M&S), you can get upto £50 cashback ... save you going to cashpoint. Of course that is assuming that will work in UK for foreigners.

Mark
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 01:12 PM
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jenifer
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Just as a clarification to isplumm's advice - definitely don't use your credit card at ATM's or to get cash back using a PIN. It will be treated as a cash advance, which incurs large fees and large interest rates.

Your ATM card should work in ATMs there, but call your bank to see if there are any special instructions. I don't know if US debit cards can be used as debit cards in the UK - never tried!
 
Old Mar 16th, 2004, 01:29 PM
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If you still want to exchange some cash the UK post offices is a little known secret. There is no charge and they pretty much match the best available rate. No or very little difference from ATMs.
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