US Dollars or Pounds

Old May 9th, 2002, 04:06 AM
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US Dollars or Pounds

Should we get Pounds before travelling to London from the States, or are Traveler's cheques better to use?
Old May 9th, 2002, 04:12 AM
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While there is not universal best answer for everyone - - many less experienced travelers prefer to purchase a modest quantity of pounds before leaving the United States. This can help you start getting familiar with what UK currency looks like, and start to "think in pounds". Use of an ATM will usually get a much better exchange rate than travelers. checks.

But there can be some peace of mind in having travelers' checks. I sometimes take some, especially when I am responsible for financial problem solving for others (kids, friends, etc).

Best wishes,

Old May 9th, 2002, 04:14 AM
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This question comes up frequently. Most people agree to forget Traveler's cheques. They are a relic of a by gone era. Few merchants take them, buying them here means subjecting yourself to rigged higher exchange rates that basically screw you and if any are left over you may lose on converting them back.

Actually getting pounds here is pushed by some as a convenience. That means calling around, trying to figure out where you can get them, actually going to the bank to get them or waiting for a delivery. And then you lose 7 to 8% on the exchange rate.

Others push going to the exchange booth at the departure airport. Again you lose 7 - 8% on the exchange rate so if you are exchange $100, you just kicked away $7 or $8.

The best way to travel is to use the ATM. Upon arrival at Heathrow or Gatwich there are several ATM's. Check to see your bank is not charging you too much for accessing your money at an ATM (to me, any charge is unjustified and I don't think anybody should pay $3 or $5 for a transaction that costs the bank 7 or 8 cents). Use the ATM and get the interbank rate with perhaps a small mark up of 1%.

Do make sure you have some US cash to serve as a back up in case something is wrong with the ATM.

Do remember this is the year 2002 and there are still many people out there (including travel writers who should know better) who are still living in the past.
Old May 9th, 2002, 04:17 AM
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We were just there last week. I got about 100 pounds at my bank before leaving. My friend got hers at the ATM at Heathrow. Our rate was essentially the same. Both were easy. I liked knowing I had some, just in case the ATM was down when I got there. Traverlers checks really aren't used much anymore.
Old May 9th, 2002, 04:21 AM
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I ordered about 100 GBP to take along. I don't know what the exchange rate was and didn't care. It just was one of those "feel better about it" things.
For the duration of the trip, we paid with credit card when possible and used ATM machines for cash. Never had any problems.
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