Change $ in London?

Dec 1st, 2003, 07:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 17
Change $ in London?

Where can I get the best rate when I change my $ to pounds in London? Would I be better off changing the money in the US? Thanks!
MICKFISH is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 07:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I've always found it best to use the ATM's when I arrive into the country to get the best exchange rates. My mastercard and visa check card do not charge me a fee. You need to check with your credit card companies to see what types of fee are associated with cash advances in the ATM's. Also, I use my credit card as much as possible on food, entertainment, major purchases, and lodging in order to get the best rates. Some people suggest changing a minimal amount in the States so you will have some spending money when you arrive. It's up to you.

Budman is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 07:12 AM
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Hi mick

The best possible exchange rate is to use an ATM card. There is really no need to bring dollars to London.

I change about $100 at the departure airport in the US (paying a few dollars extra) so that I won't have to get cash immediately upon arrival.
ira is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 08:26 AM
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Mick: I have had difficulty finding decent exchange locations in London. Unlike Paris, for example, where there seems to be money changers on every corner and you can "shop" the best rates. I ended up exchanging at Am Express, which is not a great rate (but does not include service fee for exchange of Am Express traveler's checks, if memory serves). Hope someone else has better info.
Bitter is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 08:54 AM
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I also advocate using ATMs when you arrive there to withdraw your dollars from your checking account as pounds with the best rate you will get! Check with your bank to see if they have any partner banks in the UK so they won't even charge you the usual minor fee.

I'm always a bit amused when someone mentions an "exchange" agency that doesn't charge a fee, and that includes the idea that American Express doesn't charge a fee for cashing their own travelers' checks. Yet you need to look at the rate you are getting from them. Assuming your checks are in dollars and you are cashing them to pounds, you'll probably find their exchange rate to do so will be one of the worst rates you'll see anywhere -- fee or not. My favorite was the year I was ready to return to the US and in Geneva went to American Express to cash a 100 US check into US funds so I'd have some when I got home. They would only convert them to Swiss FRancs, then would re-convert the Swiss Francs to dollars. The bottom line was that I'd get roughly $60 for my $100 check -- no fee at all, but about 40% in exchange rate losses! Needless to say I didn't do it, and if memory serves that was the last time I ever took a travelers check to Europe.
Patrick is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 08:57 AM
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I've said it before and I'll say it again(after just returning from both Paris and London) those change "bureaus" and the bank-run one's will "get" you in one of two ways: high commissions or lousy exchange rates and sometimes BOTH. Do yourself a favor and get the money out of a local ATM machine..the exchange rate right now is bad enough as it is without paying a commission, etc.
Jan 19th, 2004, 04:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 865
How come so many people on this site encourage ATM use upon arrival at the foreign destination, but then add "Oh, I also change 100 dollars at the US airport before departure"? That's nonsense. The exchange rate couldn't be worse at an airport, especially a US airport!
platzman is offline  
Jan 19th, 2004, 05:03 PM
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A word of caution regarding ATMs: early on in our trip to London a couple of years ago, a bank ATM swallowed my husband's card one evening and would not give it back. It's a long story but we never did get it back. Since I also had a card, we were okay money-wise, and could have advanced money from our credit card if we absolutely had to. So, HAVE A BACK-UP CARD! I just ordered a new set of debit cards from the bank. We will use the new cards in Paris, with our old cards safely tucked away, just in case! (And I have only 12 euros, plan to get more at CDG ATM.)
allisonm is offline  
Jan 20th, 2004, 05:15 AM
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Platzman offered
>The exchange rate couldn't be worse at an airport, especially a US airport! <

If you mean that the exchange reate at the US airport is as bad as it gets, you are correct.

I change about $100 before leaving just to have cash on hand. It costs about $3 more than if I wait to get to Europe, where I might have to wait on line or hunt for a working ATM.

ira is offline  
Jan 20th, 2004, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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I always come home with 80-100 euros for my next trip.
Wish I would have taken a couple thousand last summer!
sempre_diritto is offline  
Jan 20th, 2004, 08:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Why do people who advocate ATM's suggest changing a small amount before arrival. Well there are several reasons that they consider important.

1. They are afraid the ATM's will not work. Rarely happens but if on the odd occassion it does, just walk over to the nearest exchange window and change $50 US. You probably don't need cash anyway as most public transportation entities out of Heathrow take credit cards!

2. They feel they will save time after an exhausting all night flight. The last time I timed the transaction, it took 23 seconds. I am sure 23 seconds will make a big difference.

3. They are paranoids and like to feel they are ahead of the game. That's their perogative.

The reality is that in the 21st century, the ATM's are everywhere and are by far the best way to go. I always get a kick, personally, about people who have to spend hours and hours of going through the internet, their banks and whatever just so they can have that little bit of cash in their pockets when they arrive.

Look, I am not knocking anybody. If you feel you want to throw away $10 - $15 plus the time it take to get foreign currency before arrival, that is fine. I find it unnecessary. As soon as the plane lands, I can hit the ATM. Or I can take the Underground into central London using my credit cards. No I can't use the chocolate machines in the underground but what the hell.

To me, and it is just one woman's opinion, it is not necessary.

But others can give their own reasons why it is such a good idea and you can choose who to believe.
xyz123 is offline  

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