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Euros from Heathrow ATM?

My wife and I will be flying to Brussels via London in May, with a significant layover in Heathrow. Does anyone know if it is possible to get Euros from a Heathrow ATM, even though Britain does not use Euros? Also, in case it is possible, is the exchange rate OK, assuming one uses "legitimate" ATMs (i.e., not Travelex, etc.)?

Thank you.

Posted by
4438 posts

Wait until you get to Brussels. The ATMs at Heathrow are travelex.

Posted by
2081 posts

Joel,

as stated wait.

there are some atms/cash machines that dispense different currency, but i have no personal experience with the. I just thought they were cool.

happy trails.

Posted by
4468 posts

The ATMs at Heathrow that offer currencies other than sterling are effectively automated bureau de change (and are not just operated by Travelex). You would be paying the ATM's operator fee for conversion of pounds into Euro, plus your bank's fees for dollars into pounds (or the ATM's fee for dynamic currency conversion).

Travelex machines at Heathrow are free for sterling withdrawals, but you would pay whatever your bank charges for a foreign transaction. No doubt there is also the DCC 'alternative'.

Posted by
2025 posts

There are no bank owned ATMs in Heathrow 5, this was apparently a deal that was cut with Travelex when T5 opened, Travelex is exclusive there. Although we were in T1/T3 this summer, I did not look for bank ATMs there, from our son's passing through the prior month we already had loaded Oyster Cards and sufficient GBP to get in to town.. According to a Mastercard locator website, there IS a bank operated ATM outside T5, just across the road. That would operate normally for Plus/Cirrus withdrawals, but I doubt that it would give you a Euro option.

Posted by
588 posts

Everyone, thanks a lot; very helpful.

So, here is a follow-up question: If we needed to, could we buy something to eat in Heathrow using US dollars? I could tolerate a terrible exchange rate on a sandwich :-)

Posted by
2025 posts

Logically I would think you could. I know on our first trip I to Europe we connected with a Glasgow layover, and I was able to make a small purchase with dollars, same with a last minute change that put us on an earlier flight to Zurich with several hours top kill rather than the planned 100 minute connection. Perhaps this info is on the LHR web page (if one our Brits does not offer the answer).

Posted by
7585 posts

If you want to buy something to eat, why not just use your credit card? They can charge you in local currency, which will be converted on your bill. That's what I did on a day trip to Switzerland. I didn't have any other need for Swiss francs.

Posted by
2081 posts

If you want to buy something to eat, why not just use your credit card? They can charge you in local currency, which will be converted on your bill. That's what I did on a day trip to Switzerland. I didn't have any other need for Swiss francs."

This is the option.

just make sure you dont do the "dynamic currency conversion"

this is just my opinion, but think about getting you hands on a copy of Rick Steves "Europe thru the back door". it has alot of info for first time travelers. Its not to say you have to follow it verbatim or the travel gods will strike you down, but its has alot answers you may have. I got a copy and will buy one for first time traveler friends.

happy trails.

Posted by
2025 posts

Just make sure your credit card company has been notified that card may be used will be in Great Britain that day. We were unable to do this in advance when we had our long layover in Zurich - we had been put on the earlier flight at our home airport and even had we thought to call the bank we couldn't as their security is that the call has to come from the phone shown on our account, which is our home line.

Posted by
7585 posts

If I have a layover in a country I wouldn't be in otherwise, I still notify my bank that I will be in that country, just in case.

Posted by
2025 posts

Andrea, we learned our lesson on this and will do this in the future as indicated!
The funny thing was, we were booked on a 3 leg flight, PHL->Logan->Zurich-> Budapest. I should have tried to get Philly to Zurich direct since it was US Air and alliances, but didn't know how to work the system at that time. I was planning to ask at the airport anyway as I knew there were still some seats on the direct flight, but the day of the flight there were t-storms all up and down the east coast, and it was fairly easy to figure out how far behind our plane to Boston was from its earlier several trips. At the USAir desk at PHL I presented this and they agreed the delays would mean we would not get to Logan in time to board the Zurich flight, and there was no other Zurich flight that night, and had no problem switching us to the earlier flight direct from Philly to Zurich (with a hearty "I love you guys" from the desk attendant when she asked for our luggage checks and we pointed to our backs!). The plus was this was now one flight instead of two, but the downsides were: long-haul US Air rather than Swiss, and it was a horrible flight on an old and dirty 757 rather than a 330 AIrbus, and over 4 1/2 hours now to kill in Zurich early AM with no way to get usable money, though we did eventually find a counter that would gladly take $20 for two little sandwiches. We had taken a 1 hour walk in the area near the airport and found a grocery store, but it would only take Swiss currency.

Posted by
9110 posts

Resorting for clarity with personal observations added:

Marco clearly stated the double conversion whammy. You only get currency within the country which issues it.

Some airport concessions will accept other currencies, but at an unfavorable rate.

Heathrow machines are TravelEx.

WHSmith will accept a credit card for a magazine as will Nero for a shot of coffee. It would be reasonable to assume that other concession would do the same. Worst case is a two percent FTF.

I can picture bank ATMs at BRU.

Not long ago I entered through Heathrow with, stupidly and unknown, only Scottish notes in my stash. I grabbed fifty pounds from a TE machine and two hundred more from a bank machine a couple of hours later. I paid an extra seven or eight bucks for the first bit of money. TravelEx machines in other nations sometimes have an extra usage fees on top of the sorry exchange fee.

Heathrow isn't my usual departure airport and the last one was a mad dash. However, both Turnhouse and Manchester only have TravelEx/Amex machines and booths on the arrivals level but do have bank machines prior to security on the departure level. This May or may not be the case at Heathrow.

Posted by
588 posts

Thanks everyone! I did not exactly forget that I could use a credit card, but (following Europe Through the Back Door, which I am re-reading), I want to use the CC as little as possible in Europe, and the least possible use of it would be not at all. E.g., we have our places to stay all booked with Airbnb, planes/trains/ferries prepaid, etc.; just a slight obsessive thing I'm afraid (I'm also shooting for a 12-lb. carry-on). But obviously it is silly to balk at using the CC for one meal in an airport, and I expect to come to my senses by the time we land in the UK.

Best to all, Joel

Posted by
9110 posts

For the lurkers:

'use the CC as little as possible'

Using the credit card for a ten-dollar sandwich would add from nothing to twenty cents to the cost.

Using the same math, a ten-grand trip, assuming half of the cost went on a credit card used in a foreign nation (which it probably never will), the cost is nothing to $ 100 - - the latter with a two percent FTF. If you used cash, you would have lost about fifty bucks on the ATM exchange rate. Net cost is fifty bucks at the exorbitant usage. Meanwhile, you money would have been earning some piddly interest until the credit card bill came in.

ETBD does not always have it exactly right.

Posted by
588 posts

Ed, I also want to avoid the admittedly very slight possibility, at least in Heathrow, of having my CC info stolen. In fact this is my primary reason for wanting not to use the CC at all; but I had to place my question in "Money-Saving Strategies" as the best alternative of a bad lot on the reconfigured (compromised?) RS site. At least the category contains the word "money."

Thanks, Joel

Posted by
2025 posts

Actually, my credit card would EARN 2 % -the 1.25% cashback on every purchase and the save me the .8% I lose through the interbank system when taking cash. YMMV. But other than last summer in London, which I equated to the average US big city, the card does not get used abroad.

Posted by
9110 posts

Everybody has to deal with their own worries.

I'll offer that, between us, we make well over a thousand international credit card transactions a year. In the past twenty years we've had the things go screwy three times, twice in the United States. Each one took less than five minutes to fix. The worst hit was from zero to fifty grand in a matter of hours- - this one started while we were in the US and we found out about it the next day when we got to the UK. They would have had a new one to us in three days, but we didn't need it. Total loss for all three times: zilch.

It seldom happens and when it does it's not a major event.

Edit for factual errors:

The big hit was on a solo trip and I noticed it on the second day when I tried to buy gas. I dealt with it sitting on a seawall in Kirkwall in less time tan it took me to drink a beer. The new card was on my desk when I got home along with a form to sign saying that the charges were bogus. I never heard more about it.

Posted by
4073 posts

Joel - You are being paranoid for no reason. Use your credit card in Heathrow. It will be fine.

Posted by
12091 posts

Hi,

From where are you going to LHR? Taking the Heathrow Express at Paddington? The reason for these questions is that if you are going to be at Paddington train station, I know of ATMs that distribute Euro as well as GBP. These ATMs are located by the left luggage. I'm not familiar with any Euro ATM at LHR, only Paddington. If not, as suggested above, I would get the Euro at Brussels airport.

Posted by
588 posts

Fred, I'll be landing at LHR from the US, so Paddington Station is out; I'll just wait until Brussels.

Emily, I have to agree with you and others on this.

best,

Joel