Money Matters, London
The Money exhange shops in london are usually called Bureau De Change and you can find them everywhere in London Area, from Heathrow Airport to many Places around London and the Tube Stations and St. Pancras Station, etc. Big Companies like Travelex, Thomas Exhange, Eurochange, Mark's And Spencers and Even the UK Post Office has them. You can change your Foreign Currencies like US Dollars, Australian Dollars, Japanese Yen, Chinese Yuan, etc into Great Britian Pounds and most are open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm everyday.
BUT a caution as many of the Bureau De Change in London has an additional commision fee as added cost for your Tranbsaction (ranging from 3% to 15% , depending on the amount you will change of which the higher amount means the lower commission fee) like say 100 US Dollars will only Net 64 GBP and then less the 10% commision then you hare left with only 57 or 58 GBP for 100 USD).
Fondest memory: You can exhange money at the Local UK post Office near your area as they don't add a commision fee in the transaction or Just WIthdraw money at the International ATM's as they charge a fix withdrawal fee whatever amount you withdraw and no commision fee unlike in the Bureau De Change Shops
if your are not the type who wants pass on charges on withdrawing money through international Automated Machines and rather use your credit cards to save on withdrawal fees, then just use your credit cards ok. Like in major cities, the ATM's here are mostly affiliated to international consortiums like Plus or Discover or Cirrus. Again a caveat, when you withdraw money via atms, there are 2 pass on charges (the first is by your local bank in your country and the second is the local bank here in London) so I would recommend you withdraw large sums since the charges are the same whether you withdraw a pitiful amount or a large one. (limit is about 500 GBP per transaction).
Still is is better to withdraw money at International ATM Machines here in London than changing money from the money exchange shops as the machines don't charge a commision fee unlike the Money exchange shops.
Fondest memory: Automated Teller Machines are numerous here in London such as HSBC, Standard Chartered, Barclays', Lloyds Banking Group, etc.
The Great Britain Pound (GBP) is the main currency of the United Kingdom which Includes England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and can be used in the British Crown Dependencies such as Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, Gibraltar and Ascension Island. Although Great Britian is part of the European Union, they are not part of the 19 member Eurozone which has the Euro as their Currency. The British Pound is composed of the 1 penny, 2 pence, 5 pence, 10 pence, 20 pence and 50 pence coins and the One Pound and Two Pound Coins. The Pound Sterlin also has 1 Pound, 5 Pound, 10 Pound, 20 Pound and 50 Pound Notes.
Fondest memory: You can change your local currency into GBP at the various Monexy Exchange Shops at London or withdraw via your International Debit Card or ATM which then converts your local currency into GBP.
Favorite thing: There are plenty of ATM's all over London. I learned to avoid those at exchange bureaus at the major stations. Better look for a local bank. The reason for that is either a commission fee or an absurd exchange rate. Be sure you choose the possibility to have that rate handled by your home bank.
Your friends who are saying not to get cash in advance probably because of the falling pound may have good intentions but I don't think they're right.
The rate that your bank will give you from an ATM will not be a great rate plus they probably will have a handling charge.
I'd always recommend buying in advance with one of the online foreign exchange companies. I did a post about this on our blog 3 Guys on a London Bus. Here's a link to the post - http://3guysonalondonbus.com/2010/02/where-to-get-the-best-pound-exchange-rate-when-visiting-london
Hope that helps
Unless I'm changing thousands of pounds or dollars I have given up on the currency exchange booths when i travel, as more often than not I simply get had. In this case I recomend you put your $575 back into your bank account and withdraw it from the ATM in 100 pound increments. I don't like to carry too much cash around and while London is generally a safe place its not wise to carry too much money around. Also if you change all the money you're more likley to spend it very quickly. In the UK its the small things that really eat up your money fast, so the less you carry the fewer impusle buys you're likley to make.
I was back in the UK last week and I forgot how heavy the loose change was! It literally weighs you down! I think you'll finish up with around 350 pound which ever way you do it
The so called "City" is London's financial district.
The City is today a major business and financial centre, ranking on a par with New York City as the leading centre of global finance; in the 19th Century, the City served as the world's primary business centre.
A number of skyscrapers have been built in recent years in the City of London and further skyscrapers are either under construction or planned to be built soon
For money exchanging in London the best rates I have found are offered by a company called Thomas Exchange Global. They seem to have the smallest spread between buying and selling rates and there is zero commission.
They have offices at Victoria, near the coach and rail station, and The Strand, near Trafalgar Square. You can check current rates, locations and contact details via their website.
You wont have a problem finding a Exchange office, it felt like I saw one in every corner as we walked through city of London.
They are open to 9-10pm (I think) it was really long opening hours.
So dont worry.
I think everyone knows that the British Pound Sterling (GBP) is the official currency in London. The pound sterling is divided into 100 pence and the denominations for coins are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p; £1 and £2. The denominations for banknotes are £5, £10, £20 and £50, etc.
For information and conversion check out this website:
In London buy an Oyster card for travel by tube and bus - much cheaper and saves queuing for tickets all the time.
Loads of places to go for free museums; churches etc, check out costs before you go. Costs nothing to have a pic with a policeman, soldier etc.
A place to see real history is to walk round historic areas for free. The walk on this link should not disappoint, it covers a lot of architecture used in historical films. Don't be confused by the name Temple, it is a legal not religious term here! http://www.londontourist.org/walk%20three.html
Loads of places to sit and eat a picnic so buy sandwiches for lunch, Marks and Spencer + Pret a Manger are excellent quality.
Ask for tap water in restaurants and if you are not too hungry just have a starter and dessert for dinner, stand for no nonsense from waiters, you are paying! Won Kei at 41 Wardour Street, London is a MUST, very reasonable as are many of the other Chinatown eateries.
Another place I have eaten superbly well is Bistro 1, 75 Beak Street in Soho. A modest establishment with friendly staff and the very best value, http://www.bistro1.co.uk/
Buy tickets for shows at the official booth in Leicester square for later in the day, huge discounts. Beware of fakes offering so called discounts to the unwary.
Plan to see London area by area, its quite big and time can be wasted if you don't appreciate this. A little planning will save loads of time.
United Kingdom is still one of the few EU countries that has decided not to adopt Euro dollars and cents and stay with her own old currency of pounds and pennies.
So still have to change pounds whenever you go to UK.
1 Pound = 1.48933 Euro
1 Pound = 1.96220 US Dollar
At least UK has turned metric and we no longer have to convert between pennies, shillings, pound sterling. Just to know what is a quid.
The money used is Pounds Sterling, some places will, accept Euros too.
There are ATMS ('a hole in the wall') all over the place, and the majority of them do not charge you to withdraw, which is great! (In South Africa there are hefty ATM withdrawal charges)
Another convenience is being able to ask for Cash Back from the local supermarkets when you pay with your debit card. There is no charge for this.
Saves time, hassle and is safer.
Cheques are accepted in most places but aren't used that much anymore.
Although ATM machines are to be found all over, the transaction is always in local currency. BE PREPARED. For example, do not go up to an ATM and think you'd like to withdraw $500 worth of local currency. You first must know the amount in local currency that $500 will buy. I always carry a currency cheat sheet when travelling. In addition to ATM transactions, it's also easier to bargain and make purchases.
For a cheat sheet go to to http://www.oanda.com/cgi/convert/cheatsheet
I've discovered this place that offers very competitive rates for US dollars and Euros, with no commission charge or service charges. They have 2 branches in London, one in Victoria and one on the Strand.