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Expired British Pound Notes

I am planning a trip back to the UK for the first time since 2003 and have a dilemma as I have pound notes that I believe are expired or not accepted as legal tender. Is there a process or way to trade the old pound notes in for current currency or am I out of luck and stuck with useless paper currency?

Also, on my last trip to continental Europe, I had a hard time finding atms in Austria and Italy that were not sponsored by the atm networks who charge outrageous fees for cash withdrawals, even at atms that appeared to be through the wall at bonafide Banks. I had been in continental Europe the previous years and did not have this problem until last year so I was pretty discouraged with being ripped of for excessive fees at these rip-off atms. I guess my question is will the atms at bona fide UK banks subject me to these excessive fees? i plan to look for atms at HSBC or Royal Bank of Scotland atms in branch locations. Thanks for any feedback.

Posted by
10998 posts

Things have changed since 2003

If you are really concerned about fees regarding any atm transaction, why not open a checking account with Schwab. They refund all fees

As for your old notes, as stated, you have to take them to the Bank of England where they will be exchanged for current notes. Very easy to do but it does mean a trip down to the B of E. I've done it--in and out in ten minutes. And I had notes dating back to the early 1990's.

Posted by
3597 posts

If you only have a small amount and a big smile, perhaps a small bank in a small town will do you a favor and swap them for you. Worked for us but might not for you. Worth a try.

Posted by
3898 posts

Old currency never loses its value. Any old paper currency (as old as what you have) can be exchanged ONLY at the Bank of England. It’s right at the Bank tube stop. Take any old currency or currency you think may have switched with you. Walk inside and the guard will ask you the purpose of your visit. He’ll look into any bag/backpack and put it in a machine to check for explosives. You’ll be directed into the bank. Go to the teller and fill in the form she gives you. She’ll take the form and old currency and exchange it for new currency. The whole process takes about 10 minutes. Take your passport although you probably won’t be asked for any ID. You’re allowed to exchange up to £999 without any ID. The new £5 and £10 notes are a polymer. The £20s will change in 2020. If you happen to have any of the old £1 coins, good luck finding a bank to exchange them. The last time to use them was October last year. I got lucky and found a bank to exchange mine in mid November. You can always place them in a donation bank at a museum.

Posted by
3260 posts

How often does the Bank of England replace paper currency? How long typically does each denomination last until it is replaced by a new design?

Posted by
49 posts

I ran into some difficulty in late 2017 when I tried to use the old pound COINS in England. I did try to exchange them at the Bank of England but apparently they only exchange notes. I did not try a High Street bank. I ended up using them as church donations. Thought perhaps if I posted this it might help others know about the new pound coins in circulation as of 2017.

Posted by
2532 posts

there is a on going programme of changing notes to the new "plastic" notes, all £5 notes and the majority of £10 have changed and the old £5 note withdrawn the old £10 note will be withdrawn soon. Also the pound coins changed last year and we now have a 12 sided £1 coin the old round one were withdrawn in October last year.

Posted by
4642 posts

How often does the Bank of England replace paper currency? How long typically does each denomination last until it is replaced by a new design?

Usually 10-20 years. The shortest-lived fairly recent note was the £20 Faraday, withdrawn as it was too easily forged by colour xerography as this became cheaper in the late 1990s.

The next note to be replaced will be the £20, although the previous series £10 note (Darwin) ceases to be legal tender on 1 March 2018. These have more or less disappeared from circulation already.

Posted by
239 posts

Any cash machine that charges a fee for use must have a notice to that effect on or near the machine or on the screen. As someone has already said, most do not. That does not mean that your bank won't charge you for using a machine overseas, I don't know enough about American banks to aswer that.

Posted by
3260 posts

The next note to be replaced will be the £20, although the previous
series £10 note (Darwin) ceases to be legal tender on 1 March 2018.
These have more or less disappeared from circulation already.

Thank you. I just checked my int'l wallet and I have no £10 notes. My next trip to England is in April. I have £140 in £20 notes so I'm fine. Curious, any news about a timeline as to when a new £20 note will be introduced? With the $ as strong as it is currently, I've been going to the cash machine before I leave England for future trips. I didn't do this when the exchange rate was something like $2.15 to £1 back in 2008!

Posted by
3591 posts

Not passing judgement but the US has never had notes or coins expire, they are all honored no matter what age, even over 100 years old.

Posted by
3260 posts

In the US, unlike the UK, when paper money is updated, the former currency is still good until it's not in circulation anymore. So it's easy.

2020 for the next £20.

I like the symmetry. :-)

Posted by
27510 posts

The atms are not charging those fees you hate so much. It is your bank. They are one to hate. And if you hate that, change and get one with no fees.

Posted by
362 posts

I don't meant to sound simple, but I read the rest of this thread and am still slightly confused.

I have old 5 pound and old 10 pound notes. I can exchange them at ANY bank? Or only certain banks?

And what about old coins from trips about 5 years ago???

Posted by
4642 posts

High Street banks generally only allow their own customers to pay superseded notes into their accounts, not anyone to swap them. There can be exceptions just after a note's withdrawal, and Post Offices often do exchanges for a few months afterwards as well. A trip to the Bank of England isn't necessarily a bad thing: go to the museum as well.

Regarding coins, the Royal Mint does not deal with individuals. They do with banks, who again will often accept in demonetised coins as account deposits, although this is not usually advertised.

Most money is retired because it becomes too easy to forge, or too widespread. Allowing it to remain in circulation encourages counterfeiters to continue to fake older designs easily.

Posted by
10998 posts

As stated earlier, the Bank of England isn't a bank as you know it. It is similar in function to the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Posted by
1175 posts

I had british notes since 2005. I brought them with me to England when I went in September 2017. I was in Stow-on-the-Wold and went into Barclays Bank and the teller took them and exchanged them for new notes. No account and no questions asked. I would bring them to Engalnd, walk into a bank and ask if you can exchange them. If they say no, then try other banks.

As for finding ATMs while traveling, ask your bank if they have banks they do business with in the countries you are planning to go to and see if those banks are near where you will be.

As for finding ATMs or banks for HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland, use google maps to search your hotel and if those two banks are near your hotel. I find google maps to be very useful and helpful when searching for banks, metro stations, and other places.

Posted by
4642 posts

Yes you might be lucky. Or you might be like the couple of late teens I witnessed in a bank in May 2017 almost on the point of tears because this was the fourth one they had tried and no one would exchange their wad of 7+ year old £20 notes (not sure where they would have got them from, parents or a crooked/clueless exchange place maybe). They were told to go to the Bank of England, which wasn't that easy since they were in Belfast. They would have OK with old Northern Ireland banks' notes I daresay.

Posted by
3260 posts

I had british notes since 2005. I brought them with me to England when
I went in September 2017. I was in Stow-on-the-Wold and went into
Barclays Bank and the teller took them and exchanged them for new
notes. No account and no questions asked.

While not in the Cotwolds, I had a similar experience in London at Barclays several years ago. I exchanged bills that were expired and was given new notes. I believe I did tell them that my US account is with Bank of America. Perhaps because the banks have a partnership at least regarding cash machines was why they exchanged the notes? Just a guess.