Tourist Information UK

UK Money

The UK currency is pounds sterling (£). There are 100 pence in £1. Pennies (pence) come in 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p pieces. There is also a £1 and £2 coin. All sterling coins feature a portrait of the Queen’s head on one side.

Bank notes come in £5, £10, £20 and £50. They are legal tender in England and Wales but are generally accepted throughout the UK, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Scotland issues its own bank notes in £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100. They look very different to the English notes but are still in sterling. Most people in England will accept Scottish notes although some people may refuse them as they look different.

Cash is accepted everywhere in the UK. Credit and debit cards can be used in nearly all shops but tend not to be accepted by mobile retailers like markets, ice cream vans and roadside vendors. Small businesses like B&Bs, that are not retails shops may also not accept cards.

Entering the country with cash


If you are coming to the UK from a country that is not in the European Union then you are required to declare any cash that amounts to 10,000 Euros worth of currency or more (or the equivalent in another currency).

There are no restrictions within EU countries. For more information on this, go to the UK Customs website

Changing foreign money


Foreign currency can be easily changed into sterling at Banks, Post Offices, Travel agents and Bureau de changes. All towns will have at least one facility where you will be able to exchange your money. It is worth shopping around for exchange rates as they can vary and also ask if they charge commission. A lot of Bureau de Changes now offer 0% commission. Exchange rates for the most popular currencies will be displayed on a board and travel agents tend to have this board on display in their shop window.

To view current exchange rates you may find the following websites useful:


  • Exchangerate.com

  • XE.com Exchange Rates

  • XE.com Universal Currency Converter


  • Banks


    There are several banks on Britain’s high streets which include Barclays, the Co-operative, Natwest, HSBC and Lloyds. Banks are usually open from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday. A lot of banks now open on a Saturday and times vary from branch to branch and from bank to bank. It is quite common for them to be open on a Saturday morning. Banks are not open on bank holidays.

    If you need to exchange money when the banks are closed, you can try a high street travel agent, large hotel or Bureau de change at a large train station or airport.

    Cash Machines/ATMs


    ATMs, known as 'Cash Machines' or 'Cash Points' in Britain, can be found almost everywhere in populated areas of the UK. Typically they are attached to the side of a bank or building society but can now be found in shopping centres, petrol stations and supermarkets.

    International credit or debit cards can be used in an ATM as long as they have a four digit pin encoded. Most ATMs will accept Visa, Mastercard or Cirrus. To see if your card is accepted at an ATM simple look at the logos displayed on the machine and match them to the logo on your card.

    Credit cards


    Visa, Mastercard and American Express are widely accepted in the UK. American Express cardholders should be aware that smaller retailers may not accept this card as the retailer is charged a fee for each transaction.

    The UK now uses a chip and pin system whereby you put your card into a machine at the checkout and enter your 4 digit pin number instead of signing a piece of paper. If your card does not have chip and pin then you will still be asked to sign a piece of paper.

    If you are putting your card into a chip and pin machine make sure that the machine is kept in view. One type of fraud, known as skimming, occurs when your card is swiped into a different machine and your card details are then stolen.