In the UK you need to pay in local currency, the pound (" £"), which is divided into 100 pence (or "p"). The pound is a stable, fully convertible currency with no limits on what you can bring in or out of the country.
On the 25th of November 2013, £1 =
- 1.614 USD
- 1.193 Euro
- 1.701 Canadian Dollars
- 1.471 Swiss Francs
- Click here for current exchange rates
You can buy pounds on arrival at the various airports (some operators offer a "buy-back guarantee" where you change any remaining pounds back into your original currency at the same rate), in banks (who usually offer the best rates, but have limited opening hours) and travel agencies. Shop around to get the best deal, and be careful about the rates of commission and exchange rates charged. Commissions and spreads between the "Buy" and "Sell" rates in the UK are generally high (5 to 10%) meaning that you are often better stocking up on pounds before you go, unless you are coming from the US (where in our experience currency changers are just as greedy). You can also use your credit card to withdraw pounds from the many ATMs but a high charge will often be made for this, and you may find that an unfavourable exchange rate has been used as well.
Once in the UK, use your credit card (Visa and MasterCard are the most popular and are accepted in most places, Diners and American Express are less useful) wherever you can, as the rate of exchange they apply on your transactions will usually be better than that for changing hard cash. Only carry on you the cash that you will need that day, and leave the rest in the hotel safe.