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Cash and ATMs in UK: Fees, limits, exchange & all you need when visiting UK

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The UK is a land of contrasts; it has a lot of history and custom, but it is also a leader in modern culture and new ideas. The UK has a lot of different things to see and do, from the historic sites and royal history of London to the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands and the academic excellence of Oxford and Cambridge. It’s important to know about money in the UK, like British Pounds, ATMs in the UK, cash exchange, and different ways to pay. This is true whether you’re enjoying a traditional afternoon tea or exploring the wild coastlines of Wales. This guide will help you easily and cheaply get around the UK’s beautiful landscapes and historic towns, making sure you have a trip full of surprises and British charm.

Do I need cash in the UK, or can I just use a card?

Card works everywhere in the UK. 70 to 80% of expenses made by tourists don’t involve cash.

When you’re not in a big city, you will need cash for:
Public buses (outside of big cities)
Tips
Food stands on the street
Markets and bazaars in your area
Buying small things

You can use the card to pay for:
Food at nearby restaurants, even some sit-down ones
You can book hotels, flights, and trips online.
Tuk-tuks and cabs in the area
Renting cars
Nice places to sit down and eat
Nearby trains
Coffee shops that look nice
Shopping on the street
Going to malls and brand-name places to shop
Spas
Services for tailoring
Taxi services that you can book ahead of time, like Uber, Ola, and others
Fees to get into theme parks and other popular tourist spots
A lot of tour companies
High-end hotels
A lot of dorms and cheap hotels

What kinds of money can I use in the UK? Can I use Euros or US Dollars in the UK?

Britain mostly uses its own currency, the British Pound (GBP or £). The most common amounts are £5, £10, £20, and £50. Usually, you can’t pay with other currencies.

How to get money in the UK

In the UK, there are three main ways to get cash. These are:

ATMs
Currency exchange places
Money Transfer places

Where can I find UK ATMs?

The UK has more than 50,000 ATMs. Eight of the biggest banks in the country, along with some foreign banks, run about 80 % of these. There are a lot of them in cities and at least 1 in smaller places where you can get cash in the UK. But going to the country side? You won’t find them.

You can find ATMs at:
A lot of airports
Squares of towns
High streets
Malls for shopping
Lanes for food
Banks
Corporate and business areas and buildings

Don’t rely on finding ATMs at:
In small airports
Islands
Bus stops in the area
Villages and country side
Out of the way resorts and getaways

Are there places in the UK where I can exchange money?

Authorised currency exchange centres: With shop names saying “Currency Exchange” or “Licenced Currency Centre”. A quick check to know if the place is legit, find out the process and see if they ask you for your passport and documents.
Banks: It’s also easy to change money from American dollars, Euros, Japanese yen, Thai Baht, Indian Rupees, and Singapore dollars to British pounds at a bank office.
Airports and big hotels: International airports are a no-brainer; you’ll find them in the arrival area. Typically, hotel front-desks also have currency exchange available. But in either of those places, the rates much lower than what you would find outside. There are some big hotels that may have rates like banks, but smaller hotels in London that are close to Kensington High Street or Hyde Park will have high fees and low rates.

Don’ts
Avoid Airport exchange centres
No to black market trades or expect to be scammed
Notes shouldn’t be dirty or broken

Are UK ATMs open 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

Yes, ATMs are usually open 24 hours all seven days. Those inside bank branches may be accessible only between 9am-4pm.
Exchange offices – typically during working hours of 9 am to 8 pm, some even close early depending on the area. Hotel and airport exchange centres can be available 24 hours.

Do UK ATMs take debit and cards from outside the UK? Also, do currency exchange places?

Yes! UK ATMs are very good at accepting cards from other countries.
Most authorised money changers will also take debit and cards. Though, this costs higher fees. So, it’s better to stay away from it and trade it for cash.

What kinds of cards can I use in the UK?

In the UK, most ATMs will take Cirrus, Plus, Visa, Mastercard, JCB, and UnionPay.
A lot of places accept Visa and Mastercard to swipe. Your American Express may only work in a few places.
Currency exchanges will take Visa or Mastercard usually. Of course, extra fees will apply.
Also read: Why does your card not work at ATMs and what to do?

Does the UK have ATMs like at your home?

Yes. They are typically modern and mirror the look, feel and working on those in other countries like US, India, Australia, Europe. Some may require you to fully insert the card and some only partially (where you can see the card), so don’t forget taking it back.

UK banks with ATMs

The most popular ATMs in UK are:

HSBC
Lloyds Bank
Natwest
Nationwide
TSB Bank
Barclays

In the UK, many ATMs use the word “ATM.”

UK ATMs are known as…

…”ATM” or simply the signage of a bank name.

PIN types at UK ATMs

In the UK, most ATMs only accept 4-digit PINs. Some ATMs may let you use longer PINs, but 4 digits is the norm.

There are different kinds of swipe machines that stores use. Some are big, while others are small, and you must put the card inside them. So have a card ready that allows: Contactless payments, Magnetic stripe, and chip-and-pin.

Languages used at UK ATMs and money transfers

England’s ATMs have English as the preferred language. Some may have other European language options.

If English is not understandable, use something like Google’s Translate’s camera function and translate the ATM screen in real time to carry out the transaction. Don’t rush, take your time while doing so.

Since English is UK’s main language, expect to have to interact with staff at the currency exchange center in English, unless you get lucky with a non-English staff.

Withdrawal limits and ATM fees in UK

Withdrawal limit: At UK ATMs, as a foreign card holder, you can withdraw as much as your bank allows.

ATM fees: In UK, bank-based ATMs do not charge any fees for foreign card holders. Select decline conversion to avoid other currency conversion fees. Independent ATM operators thought, charge high fees.

Read: ATM Fees abroad: All charges detailed

Find free ATMs, currency exchanges and money transfers in UK with ATM Fee Saver

The ATM Fee Saver mobile or web app gives you a list of ATMs, currency exchanges and money transfers in the UK along with their fees and withdrawal limits. Plus, it has a handy calculator that lets you figure out the exact fees for your UK withdrawals. The app also offers directions to your chosen ATM and covers information for 50 countries, UK included.

If you want to stay away from high ATM fees and cash exchanges in UK…

Use ATMs in the country that don’t charge fees – Only the ATMs at banks – find those with the ATM Fee Saver app
Use the ATMs that are not inside of stores like pharmacies and groceries.
Press “Decline Conversion” at the ATM
Get a fee-free card from your home
Avoid exchange centres that market themselves as “no fee” – it’s never really free!
Exchange currency with cash, not with a debit or card
Get pounds when you’re in the UK already, not from home

Check out our in-depth piece: Withdrawing cash abroad? 9 best ways to save foreign ATM fees.

Are UK ATMs and money swaps safe to use?

Most of the time, yes. Skimmers are able to get into some UK ATMs, though. There isn’t much crime around ATMs, though. Touristy places are more likely to have pickpockets.
Follow these steps to be safe
Some ATMs in the UK have cameras near the keypad to record your PIN. So, cover the PIN pad!
You should use ATMs in bank offices instead of machines that are outside of banks. Skimming devices are less likely to be able to get through these.
Keep an eye on your card transactions: Use your bank’s mobile app or internet banking to check your card transactions often. Send in any unauthorised activities right away.
For private transactions, stay away from public Wi-Fi: When you’re in the UK and using a public Wi-Fi network to do online banking or use a card, be careful. For extra safety, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Don’t lose your card: Make sure you can still see your card while you’re making a purchase. Don’t give your card to a store clerk who takes it away.
Carry Two Cards: When you move, it’s a good idea to bring at least two cards with you, in case one doesn’t work.
For currency exchanges, only use authorised and registered swap places to change money.

Also read:
Top 8 things to avoid while travelling abroad.
Top 8 things not to do when travelling abroad.

Is it safe to carry cash while travelling in UK?

When you’re in the UK, it’s fine to carry cash. Don’t do the following, keep your cash safe while travelling in the UK:
All cash in one pocket or purse? No, spread it out.
Use a safety belt or fanny pack
Refrain from showing off your cash or remove it at one go in public
Don’t keep your cash in backpockets
Don’t let your purse lose and away from your body

FAQs

Can I get cash for free in the UK?

Yes! Foreign card holders do not attract any ATM fees from UK bank related ATMs. Independent ATM operators and those inside supermarkets will charge you fees.

Can I use cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other places in the UK?

Yes, very much.

Are there Bitcoin ATMs?

In the UK, there are about 200 Bitcoin ATMs.

Any Bank of America ATMs?

There aren’t any Bank of America ATMs in the UK, no.

Any UK Citibank ATMs?

There are some Citibank ATMs in the UK.

Any Barclays Bank ATM in the UK

There are a lot of Barclays Bank ATMs in the UK.

Any HSBC ATMs in the UK

There are a lot of HSBC ATMs in the UK.

Which Standard Chartered ATMs are in the UK?

There aren’t any Standard Chartered ATMs in the UK, no.

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