Hello: My husband and I are traveling to England, Scotland and Wales in May. I am thinking about bringing American $'s to exchange into pounds at either banks or post offices. Which provides the best exchange rate? I am bringing cash so that I can avoid the ATM bank/debit card transaction charges and so that I don't use a credit card unless I have to (emergency). The 3% they tack on in other countries is something I'd like to avoid. Any thoughts on this matter will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Velda
Actually you are FAR better using ATMs and your credit card. Banks and exchange places often offer the WORST exchange rates because their fees are high and rates poor. Credit cards and ATMs may charge a fee (Scottish Bank ATMs do not charge you anything for withdrawals, BTW), but it usually works out much better because the rate is much better.
The Scottish post offices offer a decent rate, but you have to work around limited opening hours and they are closing more and more of them, so you can't depend on one being anywhere near where you are located.
I agree with the first poster, Bring your ATM/Debit card and make cash withdrawals. The ATM exchange rate and fees are the smallest (due to the exchange is completed w/o human contact i.e. covering the cost of a salary!). To minimize the fee on each transaction, make a significant cash withdrawal ($500+) and stash the excess funds in your moneybelts. Make sure you inform your Bank and your credit card company when and where you are traveling. If you don't do this, a transaction in Scotland may send up a red flag to your bank/credit card company that your card has been stolen. I have only used my credit and ATM card as a source of cash. Oh by the way.....England, Scotland and Wales are great! Have fun!
Get a CapitalOne credit card so you won't even have to pay the 3%. :)
Like the previous posters, I agree that using ATMs is the best way to exchange money in Europe. And I also am very happy with my Capital One MasterCard. If you need further convincing, read what Rick Steves has to say on the subject: www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/moneytip.htm.