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Watch out for Travelex ATMs at Heathrow

I know that the accepted advice on getting British money is to get it at an ATM at the airport on arrival. Sound advice in general, I agree. But on my last trip to the UK last week, I noticed that Terminal 4's so-called "cash machines" were (all but one) actually Travelex machines with their typically horrible exchange rates, not bank ATMs. There was a single bank ATM in Terminal 4 arrivals--an HSBC ones that was out of order. I know there used to be a Barclays machine there, but it's now gone. I checked Terminals 1 and 3 and it's the same situation there, too. I'm not sure about Terminal 5, but it may be the same there, as well.

So, since you are going to get the ripoff exchange rate at those machines, plus having to pay the cash machine fees from your home bank, I would recommend getting the smallest amount of pounds that will take you to your next destination at the live Travelex windows, then use a real bank-sponsored ATM in town to get your first major stash of cash. That way you minimize the ripoff rate exposure and will avoid the machine ATM fee in addition.

Of course, if you have a bit of sterling from an earlier trip, so much the better.

Posted by
333 posts

My last 3 trips in LHR via Terminal 1 have yielded zero non-Travelex ATMs. LHR is the only airport that I've encountered that doesn't have one.

Posted by
990 posts

Steve, are you sure about that? I was told at the info desk that the bank ATMs had been replaced in Terminal 1 entirely with American Express and Travelex machines, and that Terminal 3 and 4 had only 1 bank machine each, which were often out of money and thus out of service. This was true as of last week, at least.

Posted by
9110 posts

The internet is broken. I hate it when that happens.

Posted by
1386 posts

This is good information to know. Thanks for posting.

One alternative if using public transport is to buy your tickets for the tube/express with a credit card and get cash in town.

Posted by
2788 posts

Another good reason to avoid Heathrow. I fly to Europe every summer and have never purchased euros ahead of time and have always found "non-ripoff" ATMs at whatever airport I land at on the continent. I landed a CDG in May of this year on Air France from Seattle and found numerous ATMs there as we exited the arrival area. I do spend a chunk of change every year on that trip but every dollar I can save is a dollar to spend on something more important.

Posted by
55 posts

what about terminal 5 ? Have always used ATM's on arrival to Heathrow-going again in October-taking tube in so need some pounds till we get into City-does the tube take charge cards ?

Posted by
2876 posts

The Tube definitely accepts Mastercard & Visa, and probably every other card too.