The official currency of the United Kingdom is the Pound Sterling. The currency code is GBP and the symbol is £.
1 Pound equals 100 Pence. On all banknotes there is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. If you are in any doubt, let us make it clear that in London the Euro is NOT ACCEPTED.
Where should I change the Euro to Sterling?
Changing money at the airport
Avoid changing your money at airports: commissions are high and exchange rates ALWAYS unfavorable. If you land without even a pound in your wallet, but have a payment card, use the one in one of the ATMs in the airports.
Changing money in the city
Changing money in central London is very different: before you give your money at the first counter with the CHANGE sign, you better understand if you are going to make a good deal or you are about to ruin your holiday. Do you think that all currency exchange agencies offer the same conditions? Wrongly, exchange rates and commissions are very different from office to office.
Let’s see together what are the different options to exchange your money in the city:
- CURRENCY EXCHANGE OFFICES. There are several companies that offer this service, the most important are: Eurochange, TTT Moneycorp, The Change Group, International Currency Exchange, Chequepoint, American Express, Thomas Cook and others. They are mainly present in the most tourist areas of London, for example the West End (Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Soho). Most of these offices charge a percentage commission (up to 15%) and exchange rates are almost never favourable. Once the transaction has been executed it may be very difficult to get it cancelled or to ask for a refund. If you feel lost in front of the exchange rate display board I suggest you ask how much you will receive and avoid such nasty surprises. WARNING: Few people know that the prices displayed are almost always negotiable. If you are not satisfied with what has been offered, do not turn your back on the search for a better exchange, tell the exchange agent what your expectation is and try to bargain as much as possible.
- POST OFFICES. Someone must have put around the rumor that post offices are a good solution. In fact, the rates they offer are slightly better than those offered by bureaux de change, but they still charge a commission on the transaction. Moreover, it is not possible to negotiate and the offices are closed on Sundays and public holidays.
- SOUVENIR SHOPS. Incredible but true, they could be the most convenient solution to change your money in central London. The reason? It’s not their main business, they do it to offer an extra service to customers who can then stay in the shop and buy magnets, t-shirts and postcards. Their profit margin is very small, so you don’t have to pay any commission.
- NEVER CHANGE YOUR MONEY ON THE STREET. There are many cases in which individuals approach tourists by offering them an advantageous exchange rate, and then sell off off-course banknotes or, even, currencies of other countries by passing them off as pounds sterling.
Using the N26 Service: what it is and why it is convenient in London
The Mastercard N26 is a Mastercard debit card that you can use at ATMs and shops around the world and that allows you, therefore, to make purchases and pay in restaurants and shops wherever you are, even abroad. The card can also be used online and is available in three types: N26 Standard, N26 Black and N26 Metal.
A service within reach of smartphones
In practice, by downloading the app (available on IOS), the service allows you to instantly check all the information relating to your card, i.e. the expenses incurred and the balance: for each transaction, you will receive a notification in real time and the amount will always be shown in euros.
What is the convenience for people in London?
For those who are in London or more generally abroad, the convenience of the N26 Service is this:
- Unlike other Italian banks, purchases made in foreign currency (in pounds sterling, in this case), do not involve any commission costs.
- Only for the N26 Standard account there is a commission of 1.7% on withdrawals in foreign currency (in pounds sterling, in this case), but it is still a much more advantageous percentage than that offered by other banks.
To avoid paying the commission, simply do not withdraw foreign cash but pay directly with the Mastercard N26 in shops, restaurants, supermarkets, etc..
N26 Black and N26 Metal: the ideal N26 accounts for travelers
In addition to offering the basic services listed above, these two accounts are designed specifically for travelers because they offer comprehensive travel insurance, namely on: medical expenses, delayed flights, luggage protection and telephone theft.
Please note that unlike the N26 Standard account, the N26 Black and Metal accounts do not provide any commission on withdrawals.
The Metal card also allows you to make contactless payments.