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Spending $ for a week for three people-London

If most of the tours are booked Before we go ( tours, show tickets, attractions) how much should we expect to spend on meals and transportation and extra stuff we decide to do and shopping? :) I want worse case scenario and how much cash should we have on us traveling over there? Do travels Chequers still exists they were so convenient and couldn’t be stolen if you tracked the numbers.

Posted by
1018 posts

Travelers checks are extinct, for all practical purposes. Even if you could buy some, no one takes them.

It is impossible to answer your questions in their current form because every traveler is different. My ex-wife and I traveled to Italy for 2 weeks for less money than a couple of friends spent on souvenirs that they shipped home. What is your budget? What kind of shopping are you considering? Do you eat big meals? Do you snack on the run? Bring enough cash to pay for your first day or so and then hit the ATMs for more money.

Posted by
35 posts

OK you see how long it’s been since I traveled internationally!! I didn’t think they were still a thing but I loved the comfort of them. So that is the important point. We can just use our debit cards? I wondered about exchange rate? Here we never ever have cash on us barely but it seems like maybe people do use it more there or am a I wrong-markets etc is that cash only or no. We don’t shop a lot. Will need to buy some souvenirs but nothing extravagant. We will eat our prob five nights for dinner and lunch mostly grab and go but maybe couple sit down?

Posted by
10060 posts

To add to — and reinforce — webfy1’s good advice:

  • You may want to get £100 before you leave the US just to have some cash on hand, or you can hit a bank ATM on arrival. Do not go to Change Bureaus or use non-bank ATMs as you will pay a higher exchange rate

  • You can use a Credit Card in the UK much as you would in the US, for almost everything

  • Pubs are your affordable friends as are British chains like Wahaca and Costa Coffee and Cafe Nero are our favorite coffee stops

We usually spend about £50/person/day with wine and beer included and assuming a hotel breakfast in London.

Lots of good info from Rick Steves on money here.

Posted by
8889 posts

As the previous poster says, your spending will depend on your lifestyle. Will you be eating at expensive restaurants or street food stalls? Will you be drinking? So it is very difficult to give a figure.
The short answer is similar to any other world city. Not cheap. Since you don't say where you come from I cannot give a comparison.

  • "Spending $" - You will not be spending any $. Not Aussie, Not Canadian nor any other sort of dollars, they are not accepted. The currency is £ (pounds), £1 = 100p (pence).
  • Travellers cheques are extinct, You get your £ from a cash machine (ATM), using the same card as you do at home to get cash.
  • Make sure you tell your bank you will be using your cards in the UK, so they don't block them. Applies to credit cards as well.
  • For transport, buy Oyster cards (one per person, £5 each refundable) and add some credit to each card (£20-£30 to start, add more when that runs out). If you are only travelling around central London, you will be charged a maximum of £7 per day. If you venture further out (Hampton Court, airports) that will cost more. Any trips outside London will require buying tickets.
Posted by
9730 posts

Agree with Traveler's Checks being extinct. The easiest way to get cash is to use your ATM at a terminal in London to get local currency - GBP's. You'll notify your bank of your travel plans. My own credit union for some reason has a fraud alert up for UK travel so they have to do an extra step to open my account to be able to withdraw funds there.

As to travel money - for myself I mentally budget 50 "whatevers" for travel - 50$/50Euro/50 GBP's. I don't eat in fancy places and don't buy much for souvenirs. Some days I spend more than that, some days a lot less.

There are quite a few "big" sights in London that are free - British Museum, National Gallery and V & A Museum so that can save you some money as well.

Posted by
638 posts

My thoughts in no particular order, and I apologize if I've misunderstood anything you wrote:

You can use your ATM card(s) in London to get GBP (£) in cash. You need to check with your bank (or credit union) to see what, if any, foreign transactions fees they will charge you for these ATM transactions.

The big advantage of using ATMs to get cash in a foreign country: you get a favorable exchange rate. Another advantage: you aren't loading up with all the cash you've estimated you'll ned for the whole trip before leaving home, so you have less £££ at risk of loss or theft. If you withdraw £ from ATMs while in the UK, it's more of an as-needed basis, which also reduces the possibility that you will return home with a lot of foreign currency that you have to figure out what to do with (convert to $$, save for the next trip, give away, whatever).

The possible disadvantages of using ATMs to get cash in a foreign country: (1) if it's a VISA branded ATM card, the VISA system charges a one percent "foreign currency conversion fee." Your bank or credit union may choose to absorb this small fee, or pass it along to you. My credit unions pass it along. But even with the 1% fee, getting cash from an ATM in the UK is a better deal than getting cash from a currency exchange counter. (2) Your bank or credit union may charge you a separate foreign transaction fee - this is different from the VISA system fee I mentioned in #1. My credit unions don't charge me any such fees.

ATMs in the UK work like ATMs in the US. Insert your card, use your 4 digit PIN. Just let your bank or credit union know of your travel plans in advance.

If possible, bring a back-up ATM card for a different bank's checking account. I've always done this but never needed it. I almost needed it on one trip. Although I'd done the pre-trip travel notice to my credit union with my "travel" checking account, for some reason my first try to use the ATM card in London failed. If it hadn't succeeded the next day, I would have been okay because I had a second account I could tap.

The last time I brought travelers cheques to the UK, was 1998. I was touring around East Anglia and had a heckuva time getting any of them cashed. That was the first time I used my ATM card in the UK, and I've never looked back, lol.

I like having a bit of ££ in cash for small transactions although each time I come home from the UK I seem to have spent less in cash. I have my main credit card (no foreign fees) linked to my Android Pay and now I tend to just wave my phone at the card readers in the UK and buy everything that way. (Actually pretty secure since they never see your credit card number.)

You may want to have a bit of cash "just in case," and you may need a tiny bit of cash, I think most likely 20 pence (20p) coins, if you encounter pay toilets. Just saying.

You can use debit or credit cards for almost all your dining, sightseeing, transportation, and shopping. Again, check to see what foreign transaction fees the card issuer will charge you, and put in advance notice of your travels. If a merchant says they can charge your card in dollars, refuse and have them run the transaction in GPB (£).

Posted by
35 posts

I am coming from the US-(OP here) sorry didn’t state that before. This is so helpful I could cry :) I’m beyond grateful for finding this forum. I will plan to bring some pounds then maybe 150? And then from
There we can use ATM..

Posted by
1242 posts

London is basically cashless, even more than major cities in the USA, you most likely won’t even need it. I wouldn’t bother getting pounds in advance, most of the notes have changed over the past couple of years so you might end up with the old £5 or £10 notes.

Travellers cheques are indeed extinct, no one under 35 has even seen them.

I’d suggest getting either a contactless credit card from Capital One or else setting up phone pay with Apple Pay or Android Pay. It’s the norm to pay by contactless card in London for small purchases.

Non contactless cards will work in London but they might require you to sign, which isn’t the norm in London.

Posted by
638 posts

Non contactless cards will work in London but they might require you
to sign, which isn’t the norm in London.

Even if it's not the norm, it's worked for me. I had to use my credit card (chipped but not contactless) in London late last year for a purchase that was > £30. [I'd expected to use Android/Google Pay with my phone but they said it was over the limit for that.] The shop processed it and I signed, and it was all good.

At this time, contactless credit cards are not nearly as prevalent here in the US as they seem to be in the UK. I'd be surprised if a London merchant would pass up a sale because they had to process a non-contactless card for it.

BTW, I think the US credit card issuers have by now mostly migrated to issuing chipped credit cards, although they are chip-and-sign vs. chip-and-pin. (OTOH my debit cards are chip-and-PIN.)

Posted by
13 posts

I guess I'm in the minority because I do use cash frequently and always get cash from an ATM once we arrive. Be sure to advise your card issuer in advance that you're travelling so you don't have any issues.

For a midday meal we often pick up a sandwich at Pret a Manger and I think we spend about 10 pounds person. You can also pick up sandwiches or salads at most grocery stores (Sainsbury's, Tesco, M&S). Check menus outside of restaurants to get an idea of pricing for dinner. We've had lots of great fish & chip dinners for about 15/person, but then we've also spent 75/person in nicer restaurants. Things like soft drinks are expensive. If I want pop I'll pick it up at a grocery store and bring it back to the hotel.

Posted by
35 posts

Are you using cash for the dinners too? Thanks this is all helpful info. I’m happy just found out our credit card doesn’t charge international transaction fees! 75 pounds a person for dinner sounds really really high! :) I may skip that kind. Good thinking to check menu price outside.

Posted by
1812 posts

We've been to London twice in as many years (it's nice when your spouse has to travel there for business). Both times I got cash from our bank before I went. I'd say 100 pounds is about right. I got 200 pounds for the last trip, didn't get any cash there and returned with 60 pounds in my pocket. That assures the need to return so I can spend it!

As mentioned, London is pretty much cashless. Do you have a smartphone? I rarely even used a credit card, most of the time I used Apple Pay. It is very convenient and there's an extra layer of security since the vendor never sees your credit card number. We used the Oyster card. I downloaded the app and got notifications when I needed to top up. BTW, don't use the app to do that, just stop at the Oyster machines in any Underground and top up as needed.

There were three of us as well, my wife, grandson and myself. We went to some great ethnic restaurants that were mid priced. Dinner for the three of us, including drinks ran 80-100 pounds. Lunch ran around 8-10 pounds for a hamburger. Pub grub ran 10-14 pounds per person.

Posted by
129 posts

I haven't been to Europe yet--we're going for the first time next spring--but I have found Rick Steves' books extremely useful in my planning so far. Get a copy of his Europe Through The Back Door. It's full of general and invaluable information on transportation, money/credit and debit cards, general culture, dining, lodging, shopping, entertainment--the works. It sounds like you already have the sites you wish to see lined out, but, if'n you want more info on London in particular, his London guidebook is also great.

Posted by
1734 posts

I just returned from the UK. We did get some money ahead of time at our bank. We also used atms and a credit card. Our credit card had a chip in it . I had to sign for everything which is not the case in US. I also was frequently asked for identification which never happens in US.

Posted by
4672 posts

75 pounds a person for dinner sounds really really high! :) I may skip that kind.

That is in the higher bracket. My wife and I would spend about that for a special occasion but it certainly wouldn't be a nightly occurence. In London you will run the gamut of price brackets, from really cheap to obscenely expensive. You can find very good food for reasonably good prices and not all in chains. I would suggest that good dinners can be had for around £40 per person excluding drinks.

Posted by
1242 posts

Another thing I’ll point out is try to not to bring back much cash. The UK changes their currency often.

Posted by
35 posts

THANK YOU! I am so glad I found out my main credit card does not charge fees (costco visa). I know that when I use the ATM yes I will pay fees to my bank, etc but according to all of you I won't need to take out much cash so that's great! All of this advice is so helpful.