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Scotland Pound Versus British Pound

In 2019 my wife and I had just arrived to Oxford from Scotland. One day we were shopping for wool newsboy hats. I had ample of Scottish pounds left over for the purchase. However, the young lady refused to take my money and simply said they don’t accept Scottish pounds. A bit confused I simply used plastic to make the purchase.
I recently found out the reason being is that Scottish pounds are not legal tender but legal currency because they are issued by retail banks and not government central banks. To that effect why even use Scottish pounds unless you’re in Scotland? Does anyone just use British pounds for their entire visit to Scotland because of said reasons?

Posted by
904 posts

'hat's unfortunate. People aren't obliged to take your money and the attitude to Scottish issued currency in England varies from person to person. I ended up coming back from Scotland with several hundred pounds in Scottish notes a year or so ago and managed to get rid of it in London OK. Mainly just spent locally on groceries mind.

Posted by
904 posts

Just to add, notes issued by Scottish banks still are the currency which is known as Great British Pounds, or Pounds Sterling (I think). The distinction is the issuing bank. Bank of England issues the notes which are most commonly found in circulation in England. Three Scottish banks issue notes which are more common in Scotland. They should work either way. Sometimes they might not in England.

The main reason Scottish notes are refused in England is that people haven't seen them before. There's no Scottish issued notes in England. Folks don't want to end up with a note they're not sure about in their till at the end of their shift, which is fair enough. I think it's only going to get worse as there's less cash in circulation in general, even in areas that might have more traffic from Scottish visitors.

Posted by
28 posts

@GerryM

Do you sense or rather have you observed that Britain is slowly moving towards digital currencies for most transactions? A British CBDC?

Posted by
1180 posts

Scottish notes are perfectly legal everywhere but shops aren’t familiar with them so don’t want to risk being passed a fake note. Large supermarkets will be happier to accept them than small businesses.

In areas nearer to the Scottish border they are seen more often so there is less suspicion about them. But as you say, most transactions are done by card now and cash is used a lot less.

The reason people use Scottish pounds in Scotland is becasue that’s what the cash machine gives you and what you’ll receive in change.

Posted by
904 posts

I don't know if you could call the pound a digital currency just yet, but certainly a lot more people use contactless payment than cash. At my local Tesco Express it's like 80% using self serve contactless. The till with a real person to handle cash isn't even staffed half the time.

I'm definitely not a crypto-bro, but you'd think that more currencies would be starting to move to the blockchain in the next few years.

Posted by
15691 posts

I'm back in Scotland and here's been my experience the last couple of years.....

I only use cash in Scotland for some of the taxi's in my local area and where I get my haircut. Everywhere else it's either contactless or actual credit card (for over 100 pounds.)

If I need cash and only want Bank of England notes, I follow the advice of my Scottish friends......use a cash machine/ATM from an English bank rather than a Scottish bank. It seems to work. It could also just be coincidence.
I haven't seen a Scottish note in my pocket in over two years.

Before I leave Scotland, if I should have Scottish notes, I will exchange them for Bank of England Notes.

As stated, in other parts of the UK, Scottish notes may not be accepted because the person refusing them may have never seen them.

Posted by
228 posts

Scottish notes are perfectly legal everywhere but shops aren’t familiar with them so don’t want to risk

They are not legal tender.

Posted by
1180 posts

Saying they aren’t legal tender is a technicality but that should not confuse people into thinking you can’t spend them in England.

You can spend them but some small shops may refuse them due to unfamiliarity. That’s the key thing visitors need to know.

Posted by
1003 posts

The reality is that they are readily spendable in Northern England but their acceptability gets gradually worse as you move further south. I never have an issue spending any I happen to come across here in Preston and you do occasionally see them in change you get here as well.

Posted by
7013 posts

Do you sense or rather have you observed that Britain is slowly moving towards digital currencies for most transactions?

Not slowly, but quickly. I recently spent 5 1/2 weeks in England, and did not bring or get any cash when I was there, except for one single transaction in Northumberland, as the woman who owned my B&B did not take credit cards. Otherwise, I used Tap and Pay with Apple Wallet for every single transaction.

Britain has definitely moved towards digital currency, and away from cash.

Posted by
1664 posts

'Of course they're genuine, I only printed them this morning!'

It can be a lottery about where they will be accepted and where they will not. Places off the tourist track take them, ones on it won't. I've had them refused in London, and accepted in a small corner shop in mid Wales.

There are also the cases of some shops taking a £20, and then giving change as if you'd paid with a £10 when using Scottish notes south of the border. If you have enough, you might be able to exchange at a bank.

Posted by
637 posts

Just another reason not to fool with cash and instead rely on cards and Google Wallet and Apple Wallet. So I might get 20 GBP for a month in the UK.

Posted by
6812 posts

Like others, I change any Scottish notes for Bank of England notes before leaving Scotland.

Posted by
2063 posts

Businesses where I live have been reluctant to accept Scottish notes for years. I believe it is also the same with Northern Ireland bank notes. Because they are not commonly in circulation round here they are regarded as very dubious and possibly a bit like monopoly money...

Posted by
33329 posts

when I was working I handled cash most days. We accepted Euro (at a awful exchange rate) and US Dollars (at an equally awful rate), only notes and no coins, and we gave no change. Over the years I only had about three transactions in US Dollars and exactly 2 in Euro - I remember them well. We also accepted Scottish notes, but I could count on one hand the number I received. The Scottish money was scary because I never knew if it was real or fake. We took it at face value, and gave change in Scottish first (never had any to give back) and then British. I never had any come back as bad, although I did have two duff British £20 notes over the years. And duff round pounds - great when the shape changed.

Posted by
904 posts

Of course when Nigel says British pounds, he means English notes. At the moment Scottish issued pounds are still British too. I'm not making a nationalist point, pro or against.

I thought that switching to the Euro should have been on the manifesto during the independence referendum campaign in 2017. The wishy-washy, still pegged to the Bank of England's pound sterling, solution proposed seemed a bit rubbish to me. The Euro seems to be better set up to allow multiple countries to share it as a currency.

Posted by
33329 posts

Actually I meant British. Only they are the common currency in the Principality, and they are valid in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

For the moment. Who knows, after the upcoming election, Scotland may decide to go its own way.

Posted by
904 posts

Actually I meant British. Only they are the common currency in the Principality,

Ah fair enough. Not a way I would think to express the difference though. Sounds a bit Big Ben isn't the clock tower to me.

Scottish independence is pretty much dead in the water for the foreseeable in my opinion. I'd expect status quo after the election.

Posted by
33329 posts

actually, GerryM it is because I am an old buffer.

When I grew up I was English. Speaking about the whole lot I was British (shortened from GB&NI). This newly popular UK designation doesn't even sit well, really. I'm still grumpy that I had to remove the GB plate from the back of my car and replace it with a naff UK mini sticker...

Posted by
904 posts

actually, GerryM it is because I am an old buffer

One is only as old as one feels Nigel. I'm sure you're 20-something really.

Remember I'm Scottish too. Bank of England notes have always been "English notes" to me.

Posted by
1664 posts

Glad someone else does not like the UK sticker! Also spoils the system regarding GBA, GBG, GBJ, GBM, and GBZ.

Talking of the notes, the Crown Dependencies, plus the BOTs of St Helena and Falkland Islands issue their own notes and coins. These are technically separate currencies at par, but you might find the coins. If you do, keep them as souvenirs. As for the notes, ditto, but rare.

Jersey's are now trilingual. Two of the languages being French. Well, French and Jersey Norman.

Posted by
6670 posts

Since this thread has taken a turn and attracted some pretty knowledgeable and entertaining people, I'd like to ask what to expect when I arrive in Glasgow this summer with a 20-pound Bank of Ireland note I received in Northern Ireland two years ago. Will Scottish merchants accept it? Will a bank exchange it for me? Assuming that I won't be returning to NI, should I just frame it and hang it on the wall? ;-)

Posted by
11505 posts

Kind of makes one wonder about the term/name "United Kingdom"

Posted by
6710 posts

You just might get away with spending the Irish note in Glasgow, given the Glasgow/Irish traffic but you can't exchange it other than in Northern Ireland.
Otherwise, just frame it or take a day trip to Belfast- easy enough by air.

Posted by
2560 posts

a 20-pound Bank of Ireland note I received in Northern Ireland two years ago. Will Scottish merchants accept it? Will a bank exchange it for me?

They should do. It's a sterling pound note like a Scottish note and a Bank of England note. Spend it at larger retailers who will be more familiar with it. Or try a post office. I've never seen a Northern Irish note as they barely circulate in Great Britain.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/scottish-and-northern-ireland-banknotes

Posted by
1664 posts

Glasgow is probably the best place to spend Northern Irish notes in Great Britain. There is a lot of cross traffic because of 'reasons '.

As for 'United Kingdom ' , the name of the state is Great Britain and Northern Ireland. United Kingdom is just a description of the system of government. It became the short form around the 1950s, IIRC. Because the flags at the United Nations are in alphabetical order in English.

Britain would place the flag around Brazil and Belgium.
Great Britain next to Greece and Guatemala.
United Kingdom placed it between the USSR and USA..