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Polymer money only

I read an article this morning that some establishments are no longer accepting the paper 20 and 50 pound bank notes even though they don't go out of circulation until end of September. I've got about 500 pounds worth of them that I had leftover from a trip to England in 2018 that I was going to use for a couple of B and B's that have advised me that they're cash only. I've emailed them to confirm if they'll accept the old cash.

I thought the simple solution would be to head to the Royal Bank of Scotland when I arrive next week and exchange, however the website says they'll exchange for their customers only. I'm curious if anyone has experienced this recently and can advise?

Posted by
34 posts

When I was in Edinburgh in 2019, the banks I visited would not change paper for polymer notes, since I was not a customer. The Post Office would exchange paper notes for dollars or euros, but could not make a straight exchange of paper pound notes for polymer. Since I was going to London anyway before coming home, I went to the Bank of England headquarters and exchanged the notes there. Their website has this information: https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/exchanging-old-banknotes

Posted by
2318 posts

One of the B and B's replied that even though they're cash only, they won't take them. Haven't heard from the other. Plan B is go to my bank this week and see if I can trade. Otherwise I'll turn them in and lose a bit on the exchange.

Posted by
11246 posts

The Royal Bank of Scotland is not a government bank. It's a private bank and you can buy stock in it. It's not a central bank like the Bank of England or the Bank of Canada. Scotland has the Bank of Scotland but they deal with Scottish money.

If you will be there next week, you shouldn't have a problem using them. I'm going to Scotland next week and have four 20 pound notes. I'll either change them here in England at my hotel or at my hotel in Scotland.

Here's info from the Bank of England on how to get new notes:

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/exchanging-old-banknotes

Posted by
5618 posts

In London last month with two old £20’s, and we used them buying food - at a grocery and a deli. Whether Scottish merchants will be less willing than Londoners, I’d hope not.

We tried walking into a bank, and were told, in no uncertain terms, that only account holders’ cash would be exchanged. Will you be in Scotland long enough to have opportunities to spend your non-polymer bills - if the B&B’s refuse? I’d think most B&B’s would be accommodating to customers- unless their banks won’t let them deposit the cash, either.

Hopefully it won’t be too much trouble, or involve a long, arduous time in a bank.

Posted by
2318 posts

We'll be in Scotland for 17 days, but I'm not going to risk the hassle. If my bank at home won't make a straight-up exchange then I'll cash them in and use an ATM in Scotland for cash needs.

Posted by
1345 posts

The RBS, BoS, and Clydesdale Banks are all commercial banks, not a central bank like the Bank of England which sometimes is referred to as the Central Bank of the UK in specialised documents.

The promise on the notes 'to pay the sum of ten pounds' is to pay it at their head office rather than one of the branches.

Posted by
2318 posts

We'll be in Scotland for 17 days, but I'm not going to risk the
hassle. If my bank at home won't make a straight-up exchange then I'll
cash them in and use an ATM in Scotland for cash needs.

Well, that didn't go as planned. My home bank (RBC) wouldn't exchange them or let me cash them in. I tried Calforex next, and they wanted nothing to do with the paper notes either. Looks like I'll be taking them with me and using cash wherever I can on this trip.

Posted by
4002 posts

Use as many as you can. Then, if you know somebody going to London for business or vacation, see if they’ll go the the Bank of England and exchange them for you. Exchanging them only takes a few minutes. Maybe you could entice them by buying them a beer. When the other notes were converting and I had a bunch to exchange, I offered to exchange the old notes for new ones to my coworkers. I’m more afraid of getting stuck with a Bank of Scotland note that may not be as accepted in England.

Posted by
2318 posts

I’m more afraid of getting stuck with a Bank of Scotland note that may
not be as accepted in England.

That's crossed my mind as well. I've never had cash that I couldn't give away before!

Posted by
5618 posts

Looks like I'll be taking them with me and using cash wherever I can on this trip

If you encounter snags, Allan, treat yourself to a nicer restaurant … or two, or three. Tip generously. Consider that anything you can spend is a bonus, almost like receiving a “free” treat. Even put a donation or two into the boxes at any “free” museum you encounter - you’ll be a benefactor, for sure. Heck, buy a round for the house in a pub, and you’ll be The Man for everyone there - pick a pub. though, that isn’t packed shoulder to shoulder.

This could be your big splurge opportunity. I do hope you get a chance to get a 100% fair exchange, though, and get an even shake, without having to be a spendthrift.

Posted by
956 posts

Hi, Allan,

I e-mailed RBS, as I have 240 pounds in paper money left over from a previous trip. I received a very nice e-mail in return, stating that I could exchange the paper money for polymer money at any of their branch banks. I printed out the e-mail as proof, for when I go in to an RBS branch next week.

Obviously, this will only work until the paper notes go out of circulation at the end of September.

The RBS e-mail address which I used is rbs.newnotes@rbs.co.uk

I guess that this is too late to be of assistance to you. I hope that you were able to do the exchange without losing any money.

I hope that this helps anyone who may be in the same situation.

Best wishes,

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
11246 posts

I got rid of my last 20 pound note today at my hotel in London. My only problem is I have two ten pound Scottish notes and people here don't want them. They have never seen them.

Posted by
2318 posts

I guess that this is too late to be of assistance to you. I hope that
you were able to do the exchange without losing any money.

I found a money exchange office in Edinburgh that traded me for Bank of England notes. I took a bit of a hit, but it was worth the cost to be rid of the hassle.