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 place to exchange money in London. After all, the less you spend on currency exchange, the more you have to spend on your travels!
The cheapest place to exchange currency 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.
The Cheapest Place To Exchange Money In London
Before we dive into the contenders for the cheapest place to exchange currency 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 place to exchange money in London, beware of the bureau de change kiosks that are in very central London locations, and in airports. 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.
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.
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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 lot cheaper 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.
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Revolut were something of a pioneer when it came to travel cards, and they now have over 4.5 million users. Revolut allows you to withdraw up to £200 (fee-free) in your destination country.
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.
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 interbank 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 Can I Get The Best Exchange Rate in London?
A brilliant way to find out the cheapest place to exchange money in London 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
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.
Moneycorp is a well-established provider that has been in the market for decades. Moneycorp advertise that they are able to beat bank exchange rates, but are not very transparent about their commission fees.
Beware of these outlets at airports- despite the fact that this provider is well known, you are unlikely to get a good exchange rate.
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.
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Where Can I Exchange Money Near Oxford Street?
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 Debenhams bureau de change- you can get a £5 voucher when you exchange more than £50, and there is a 0% commission rate.
- Address: 334-348 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1C 1JG
- Phone: 0344 800 8877
- Opening hours: Mon to Sun 10:00- 19:00
- Check out their daily rates here.
Where Can I Exchange Money Near Leicester Square?
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.
Where Can I Exchange Money Near London Bridge?
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.
Where Can I Exchange Money Near Buckingham Palace?
To find a good currency exchange near Buckingham Palace, you should head to Buckingham Palace Road, and make the short journey to Victoria.
In the Victoria Place Shopping Centre, there are several bureau de changes. Again, there is a Thomas Exchange Global here which is a favourite amongst locals and tourists.
- Address: Unit 25, Victoria Place Shopping Centre, 115 Buckingham Palace Rd, London SW1W 9SJ
- Phone: +44 20 3725 5735
- Opening hours: Mon to Fri 07:30 – 20:45; Sat 08:30 – 20:00; Sun 09:00 – 18:30
- Check out their daily rates here
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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.
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- 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. I went to exchange money in London once with my driving license and they didn’t believe my home town in the Channel Islands was a real place (eye roll). Now I always bring my passport as a backup.
- 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.