Whether you’ve come to London as a tourist, or if you’re a Londoner wanting to exchange money for your holiday, you want to make sure that you find the cheapest currency exchange in London. After all, the less you spend on currency exchange, the more you have to spend on your travels!
The best cheapest currency exchanges in London will also come down to your location- is it worth travelling to the other side of London to exchange your money when the saving might only be a few pounds? Consider your location first and work out the cheapest way to exchange your money using the following tips as a guideline.
Before we dive into the contenders for the cheapest currency exchange in London, it’s important to first acknowledge the fact that there are several different providers that you could use to exchange money in London.
The exchange rates and fees that you will pay for buying your currency will vary between different providers.
Where can you exchange money in London?
Bureau de Change
A bureau de change is a business that makes its profit by buying foreign currency and selling the same currency at a higher exchange rate. A bureau de change will be the first port of call for many people looking to exchange money in London.
If you’re a tourist in London who is looking for the cheapest currency exchange in London, beware of the bureau de change kiosks that are in very central London locations, and in airports. Their convenient location makes them tempting when you’re having a weekend in London, but their add on fees are often super high in comparison to other bureau de changes.
ATM Cash Point
If you are going on holiday, you can of course withdraw money from ATMs in the country that you are visiting. The same goes for if you are visiting in London.
However, there is a charge associated with withdrawing cash from ATMs in a foreign currency, with your debit card from home. When you put in your debit card from your home country, into a foreign ATM, you will be charged a fee, and the exchange rate is usually pretty poor.
It’s best not to rely on this method if you don’t have to.
When paying on a card abroad (or withdrawing from an ATM), you might be asked if you would like the transaction to be charged in pounds or the local currency. As a general rule of thumb, never pay in pounds – that means the overseas store or bank is doing the conversion, and rates are usually awful.
However, if you are using a travel card like Monzo, Starling, or Revolut, you can usually withdraw money at a foreign ATM without incurring a currency exchange charge like you would in a standard bureau de change. This makes this an attractive option if you are going to be using your card for most transactions and don’t have a need for much cash. However, do note that sometimes, third party providers may charge a withdrawal fee and weekend fees may apply too, so do your research!
Most banks will exchange money for you if you have a bank account with them. Many banks will also give you the option to order your foreign currency in advance, and you can arrange to have this delivered to your home, or made available to be picked up from your local branch.
Fees and rates can vary, so make sure you do your research before buying foreign currency from your bank.
What method should I use for exchanging foreign currency?
There are also several different methods of turning cash into another currency. If you’re travelling to London, I would recommend exchanging currency onto a travel card to ensure that you still are able to pay for services by card.
For example, when you pay for the tube using a contactless payment card, it’s a much cheaper way to travel than buying a paper ticket. In fact, paper tickets can sometimes be double the price of contactless payments for the tube.
Travel cards are also brilliant option for Londoners who are travelling overseas. You can get non-sterling, transaction fee-free debit cards which are a great way to avoid lots of the add-on fees associated with traditional currency exchanges.
Travel cards are the future of foreign currency exchange- which give you the freedom to withdraw cash in a foreign country, in a foreign currency without transaction fees or commission fees.
Starling is an app-based challenger bank which offers a transaction fee-free debit card to use when you are abroad. It has no non-sterling transaction or cash withdrawal fees worldwide.
It’s the obvious choice for travelling abroad, and has an edge over other travel cards, because it has the highest fee-free foreign ATM withdrawal limit of £300 a day!
That is absolutely incredible when you compare it to other travel cards. Other travel cards will charge you a 2-3% fee after you have withdrawn £200.
Revolut were something of a pioneer when it came to travel cards, and they now have over 4.5 million users worldwide. You can withdraw up to £200 (fee-free) in your destination country with the Revolut card (third party provider withdrawal fees and weekend fees may apply).
If you want to withdraw more cash (up to £5,000), you will pay a charge of 2% at an ATM in your destination country (but again, third party provider withdrawal fees and weekend fees may apply).
You can set up your account with Revolut really quickly- all you have to do is download the app, request a card, and then transfer some money over from an existing bank account. The card then essentially works as a pre-paid Visa card.
When you pay with your Revolut card in another country, you can ‘load’ a certain amount of money onto the card. Your money will be exchanged at the current real exchange rate in that moment. You don’t pay any additional fees like you would at a typical bureau de change.
Revolut estimates that its customers save an average of £46 per trip as they are not having to pay any commission on foreign currency exchange.
Monzo allows you to spend in any currency around the world, with no fees, using the Mastercard exchange rate, which is a better rate than you would get in your usual bureau de change. You can also withdraw up to £200 fee-free from an ATM, but after this there is a 3% charge.
When you land in a new country, the Monzo app will alert you to the current exchange rate in that country, when you land back at home again, Monzo will also let you know how much you spent during your trip.
Now that the days of travels cheques are pretty much behind us, the most obvious way to carry foreign currency is to use cash. But as we move towards more of a cashless society as a whole, you might need to rethink relying solely on cash when you are travelling (depending on your destination, of course).
Carrying cash only can also be a bit of a security risk, and it’s also harder to keep track of your spending. That said, exchanging a little bit of cash before your trip can make you feel more secure once you reach your destination. You’ll want a little spare change for taxis, tipping at restaurants and maybe even paying for food or drink.
Where are the best currency exchanges in London?
A brilliant way to find out the cheapest currency exchange in London near you is to use the handy calculator from Money Saving Expert. All you have to do is enter the amount you would like to exchange, and the calculator will show you the result of the best place to exchange your money that day.
These are some well-known, reputable providers where you could exchange your money. Look out for these names to ensure that you are not ripped off when exchanging money.
|Thomas Exchange Global||Locations throughout Greater London, including Covent Garden and Victoria Palace Shopping Centre (Near Buckingham Palace)||For daily rates, see their website|
|Currency Online Group||Waterloo Station: Suite 1, The Concourse, Waterloo Station, Scott House, London SE1 7LY||For daily rates, see their website|
|Post Office||Available on most London high streets||For daily rates, see their website|
|John Lewis Travel Money||Oxford Street: 300 Oxford St, London W1C 1DX||For daily rates, see their website|
|ACE-FX||Canary Wharf: Unit 8b Canada Pl, London E14 5EQ|
London Bridge: Unit 37, Bridge Station, Lower Concourse, London SE1 9GP
|For daily rates, see their website|
|Covent Garden FX||Covent Garden: 30, Jubilee Market Hall, London WC2E 8BE||For daily rates, see their website|
|Change Group||Locations throughout Greater London including Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road, and Harrods||For daily rates, see their website|
|Eurochange||Locations throughout Greater London including Liverpool Street, Leicester Square, and Queensway||For daily rates, see their website|
1. Thomas Exchange Global
Thomas Exchange Global is known by many for its favourable rates and 0% commission. Thomas Exchange Global offer over 120 currencies which is more than most other providers.
You can pop into a branch to exchange your money, or you can order online and collect from your preferred branch or get it delivered to your home.
If you’re looking for a bureau de change near Leicester Square, you’re in luck because there is a Thomas Exchange Global just a short walk away. This exchange is in Covent Garden, and again has a brilliant reputation in London with 0% commission fees and decent exchange rates.
- Address: 402 Strand, London WC2R 0NE
- Phone: +44 20 7183 4197
- Opening hours: Mon to Fri 08:00 – 18:45; Sat 09:00 – 17:45; Sun 10:00 – 15:45
- Check out their daily rates here.
2. Currency Online Group
As the name suggests, Currency Online Group is primarily an online operation, but does have one singular retail branch in Waterloo train station.
Rated ‘Excellent’ on Trust Pilot, they are a good option if you need to exchange money in the London Waterloo area of the city.
- Address: Suite 1, The Concourse, Waterloo Station, Scott House, London SE1 7LY
- Phone: 020 3718 3143
- Opening hours: 9-5pm Mon – Friday, Closed Sat & Sun
- Check their daily rates here.
3. Post Office
The post office is a popular way to exchange money in London. This is in part due to the fact that they are so accessible and convenient. There is a post office on almost every high street.
You can order foreign currency online with the post office and collect it from your chosen branch, or have it delivered to your home. Delivery to your home is free when you exchange a sum of £500 or more.
The post office will exchange up to 80 foreign currencies, with 0% commission fees.
4. John Lewis Travel Money
There are many bureau de changes on Oxford Street- and you’ll probably want to make sure you get the best deal on currency exchange so that you have more money to spend in the shops!
There are several great options here, one of which is the John Lewis Travel Money bureau de change.
- Address: 300 Oxford St, London W1C 1DX
- Phone number: 020 7629 7711
- Opening hours: 10am-8pm Mon-Sat, 12pm-6pm Sun
- Check their daily rates here
London Bridge is a popular tourist spot, so you have your pick of currency exchanges here. If you go to the south side of London Bridge, you will find an ACE-FX. Operating with 0% commission and favourable exchange rates, this is a good option for you in the London Bridge area.
- Address: London Bridge House, 5 London Bridge Walk, London SE1 2SX
- Phone: +44 20 7357 7373
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday 07:45- 18:30
- Check out the daily rates here.
6. Covent Garden FX
Covent Garden FX is a well known, family run business with a central location. This exchange is based close by to several London landmarks and key areas such as St Paul’s, London Transport Museum, and Royal Opera House.
This exchange is so well renowned, that it’s actually been nominated for a British Travel Award, 2023. They offer the some of the best currency exchange rates, so it feels well deserved. A true contender for one of the best cheapest currency exchanges in London.
- Address: 30, Jubilee Market Hall, London WC2E 8BE
- Phone: 020 7240 9921
- Opening hours: 10am-5:30pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm Sat, Closed Sundays
- Check out the daily rates here.
7. Change Group
With more than 20 years of experience in exchange, Change Group is something of an expert when it comes to currency exchange in London.
Change Group have several locations in London, perhaps the most prominent is Charing Cross Road, next to the entrance to Leicester Square station in the heart of the city.
- Address: 35 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0AT, UK
- Phone: 020 7839 7880
- Opening hours: 11am-7pm daily
- Check out the daily rates here.
Eurochange have racked up over 40 years in the business, making them a currency exchange staple of the highstreet in the UK. Unlike some other exchanges, Eurochange also accept traveller’s cheques.
You’ll find Eurochange branches throughout Greater London, but one prominent branch is at Liverpool Street station, a hub in East London.
- Address: Liverpool Street Station, Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 7PY
- Phone: 020 3915 8548
- Opening hours: 9am-6pm Mon-Sat, 11am-5pm Sun
- Check out the daily rates here.
Should I exchange money before going to London?
If you’re due to visit London, it’s a good idea to exchange a little bit of money before you arrive. Although London is now largely a cash-free city (you can pay for the card, tube, and black cabs with a contactless card), you might find yourself in need of some cash for emergencies.
You could exchange perhaps around £100 before going to London, and then exchange the rest of your money once you arrive. If you run into any card problems, at least you have the security of the backup cash to make sure you’re covered.
If you do decide to go ahead and exchange some money before your trip to London, be sure to research the best, cheapest currency exchanges near you in your home town. This will ensure that you get the best deal possible.
It’s also worth remembering that exchanging currency at an airport is always going to be the most expensive way to exchange money- and is something you want to avoid. By thinking ahead and preparing yourself before you land in London, you’ll save yourself some money.
- Remember to always bring your ID with you when you go to exchange money. If you can bring your passport with you, that’s even better than a driving license.
- Consider a travel card as the cheapest way to exchange money in London. You don’t need the hassle of travelling with cash and you don’t need to go to a bureau de change. It’s commission free, with transaction fee-free ATM withdrawals in foreign countries. Starling is without a doubt the best option to go for.
- If you do opt for a bureau de change, use the handy calculator from Money Saving Expert to find out which provider is offering the best rates that day.