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Possible to get euros in London—or Switzerland?

We need to arrive at our first destination in Italy with 100+ euros to pay the private driver who is meeting us at the train station to take us to our hotel. Before Italy, we will be in London, and then Switzerland. Does anyone know if there are ATM’s at Heathrow or in London that dispense €€€? Or maybe in Switzerland, at Zurich airport, or maybe in Bern?

I am posting this in “money-saving strategies” as I do not want to use a currency exchange booth at Heathrow.

Thanks for your help.

Posted by
32709 posts

there used to be Raphaels Bank multi currency ( £ and € ) cashpoints at St Pancras station near Eurostar at a very good exchange rate. Unfortunately they went bust during the first part of Covid in 2020.

I didn't see any multi currency ones when I was in the station a couple of months ago. Sorry, Lola.

Posted by
2501 posts

There may be- I don't know for sure at LHR but if there are there will be two conversions. Your bank card, presumably in dollars, will first buy pounds, and then the pounds will be used to buy euros. Same in Switzerland - dollars to CHF then euros.

It will be cheaper if you buy euros in the US - only one conversion.

Posted by
312 posts

You probably won’t find an ATM in London that dispenses euros, but if you google “money exchange near me” you can find a bureau de change near to where you’ll be in London. The major international banks like Barclays, HSBC or Santander should also be able to exchange pounds for euros without prior notice, if they have them in stock.

Posted by
4385 posts

We did some currency exchange in a M&S store, the counter was up on the second floor. They had all kinds of funny money and it was quick and convenient.

Posted by
19092 posts

Lola, I would get euro in Seattle before you leave. Don't they have a Wells Fargo in Seattle? Wells sells euro for 5% over the Interbank rate, but you need to be a Wells customer. I think BofA does the same. Check other Seattle banks.

Five percent is better than you will get at a currency exchange at Heathrow.

Too bad you don't have a travel group in Seattle. There would surely be someone there who's brought back some euro from their last trip and would sell (or loan) them to you. If I were in Seattle, I'd loan you 100 euro.

Posted by
16188 posts

Thanks. We may just have to find a currency exchange, then.

We do not have time to buy them in the US as we are leaving today, in a few hours. The transfer company just contacted me this morning to ask they we pay in cash.

Do you suppose the rate at the currency exchange shops in London is lower than at Heathrow? Or is it the same everywhere?

Posted by
6344 posts

ATMs with euros are common in Switzerland to that won't be a problem.

Posted by
19092 posts

ATMs with euros are common in Switzerland to [sic] that won't be a problem.

Really? I used an ATM in Rorschach, Switzerland in 2017, and I didn't notice that euro was an option. I've never seen an ATM that gave currency in other than that of the country in which it was located. In 2012 I was staying in Zwiesel, near the Czech border, and wanted to buy a train ticket to Prague at the border. My host told me before I left that the ATMs in Zwiesel only gave out euro, so I got enough Koruna at home before I left to buy the ticket.

Lola, at one time I read that the currency exchange, and maybe ATMs, at Heathrow were run by Travelex, which is one of the most expensive currency exchanges known.

Have a good trip.

Posted by
5694 posts

Do you suppose the rate at the currency exchange shops in London is lower than at Heathrow? Or is it the same everywhere?

Yes. Airports are notoriously expensive. In my experience some of the most competitive rates, as said up thread, are at the larger Marks and Spencer stores (like Oxford Street, as a for instance). As well as the banks the majority of Post Offices also do currency exchange, even in my little town in Cumbria.

There is a company called Global Exchange with offices at London City airport, KIngs Cross St Pancras and Victoria Station- https://www.global-exchange.co.uk/en/

The Bank Rate £ to Euro tonight is 1.16, they are offering just over 1.12, which is quite reasonable. Pre-order for collection at one of those branches on the web link above.

Posted by
16188 posts

My husband suggests we just go to the currency exchange at the airport here, and buy the €€€ with our $$$. If we wait til London we would have to first get £££ from an ATM, and then exchange those.

Posted by
7253 posts

The currency exchange at the SeaTac airport has awful rates, but it will get the job done, so you don't need to worry about it.

I know the post office at London exchanged our unneeded pounds when we were wrapping up our time there. We had stopped in to exchange old pound notes for usable ones. If you don't obtain them at SeaTac, that's the option I would check if you're near one.

Posted by
5694 posts

That sounds like the best plan. Presumably you get a bad exchange rate at Seatac but that may be the best option. If it had been exactly a weeks time I would have offered to meet you at LHR and do a swap at bank rate, as I always carry a significant stock of both Euros and USD at home, and am running with an option to be in London next Wednesday anyway. But not this week.

Posted by
16188 posts

That would have been nice to meet up—but by next Wednesday we will be enjoying our final day in Mürren before moving on toward Italy.

So we stopped at the currency exchange at SeaTac and got it done. The rate was dreadful, mainly due to the $12.95 fee they take on to whatever exchange rate they use, but I am glad we won’t have to take time to find euros on our one full day in London (already a full day with 2 walking fours planned).

So now we have the €€€ to pay Pier Luigi.

Posted by
6344 posts

Really? I used an ATM in Rorschach, Switzerland in 2017, and I didn't
notice that euro was an option.

Not every one will have other currencies, but many have. Here is a map of all UBS' locations in Switzerland: https://www.ubs.com/locations.html#switzerland/en/ns/all/ If you click on an ATM and scroll down to Available services you will see some that lists Bancomat with Euro. Including their ATM in Rorschach.

I've never seen an ATM that gave currency in other than that of the
country in which it was located.

I've seen several. They are not at all uncommon. I live in Sweden, a non-euro country, and have two ATMs nearby where I can withdraw €.

Posted by
5694 posts

And I think I would be very surprised if there isn't such an ATM at Heathrow. All the internet evidence is that there is one at London City airport and that there is also one at St Pancras station. I can remember seeing one at London Luton airport a few months ago, and Stansted and Southend airports are also reputed to have them, according to the internet (and Southend is a quiet airport with very few flights).

So for the major London airports not to have such ATM's would be a surprise.

The short notice, and that it is not something most people on this forum are used to looking for (because of allegedly living in a cashless society) just came as a surprise.

There are clearly plenty of people, outside this forum, who do still spend cash. People like me.

That $12.95 fee at SeaTac is a stinker, but at least it resolved the issue.

I'm surprised there apparently isn't a Seattle Travel group given the number of forum members who live on the west side of the State.

Posted by
1625 posts

ATMs that deliver Euros are common in Switzerland, however some banks will only offer Euros to their own customers. So it is possible that if you put a foreign debit/credit card in it you will not be offered Euros.

Posted by
16188 posts

Ism31c—-Regarding a Seattle travel group, I have tried in the past (10 years ago or more) to start one. We had several meetings in downtown Seattle and one at the Rick Steves store at Edmonds, but never had more than 3-4 people attend. I had more success recently with one I set up as a “travel book and map exchange”, held at a local park on a nice sunny day last spring. That one attracted about 8 attendees, and we had a great time talking. So I may try another like that, before our weather becomes wet and wintry.

Thank you for mentioning London City Airport as a source for euros—-we will be flying from there to Zurich tomorrow, somI will look for that ATM and confirm, for future reference. We did look around for one at Heathrow when we arrived yesterday, but at least in the arrivals area and baggage claim all we saw were for £££ only.

Posted by
5694 posts

I remember reading about the Spring meeting on Mercer Island, and it's postponement due to forecast adverse weather.

I can also remember you even giving directions by bus, not assuming everyone was driving there.

I think it was originally just after Easter, from memory.

When I write to my friend in Seattle the mail goes to a Post Office box on Mercer, as that was a one time home of hers about 30 years ago. So she nips across to Mercer every week or so. Thus it is very much on my visiting radar. A visit now delayed by 6 years at least.

Posted by
16188 posts

Reporting back: I saw ATM’s offering both ££ and €€ at Heathrow (in the domestic arrivals area) and London City Airport (in the Departures area, on the way to our gate). These were commercial ATM’s, not bank-affiliated. I put my usually reliable debit card in one and selected “euros”, as I anticipated needing more than I bought at the Seattle airport, but the machine would not accept my US card. The message read something to the effect that I “did not have enough funds to withdraw the amount selected”. This was of course wrong, as I had plenty of money in that account, and no trouble using the card in regular (bank-affiliated) cash points.

I also found the one in Grindelwald, on the main route between the train station and the First gondola station. This one was attached to a Swiss bank, and signed that it would dispense either CHF or euro. But when I inserted my card and set my PIN, it only offered CHF as an option, no matter how I tried to work around that.

But I was able to obtain all the euros I needed once we reached Italy.

Posted by
32709 posts

not quite so simple as it appeared. Sorry they both were stumpers. pain.

surely if they advertise it they should deliver. I will grrrr on your behalf, if you don't mind. Grrrr!! Double grrrr!!

Posted by
11155 posts

This one was attached to a Swiss bank, and signed that it would dispense either CHF or euro. But when I inserted my card and set my PIN, it only offered CHF as an option, no matter how I tried to work around that.

Perhaps the supply of euros was exhausted and all the machine had was CHF?

Posted by
7025 posts

Perhaps the supply of euros was exhausted and all the machine had was CHF?

That sounds very likely to me.

Posted by
21 posts

I don't think you will get euros from any ATMs in London but you can find money exchange bureaus at major rail stations, popular tourist areas and at Heathrow as well. They usually give a 5% difference between the purchase and sell rates for common currencies, basing their rates on the daily currency exchange market.