Travel Money Guide: UK

Rates and fees last updated on

If you're travelling to the UK, you'll want to know how to carry and spend your money overseas.

The United Kingdom — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — is one of the most popular destinations in Europe for Australian travellers, and Australians get an automatic visa for six months upon entry. This article will address the ways you can bring money to the UK and spend it without incurring hefty international transaction fees. There are three options: travel cards, credit cards and debit cards.

Which option is right for your next trip?

ANZ Travel Card

ANZ Travel Card

  • Load up to 10 currencies
  • Lock in your exchange rates
  • No overseas transaction fees

ANZ Travel Card

The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 currencies to make purchases overseas at over 38 million merchants and over 2.3 million ATMs worldwide.

  • Lock in your exchange rates and know how much money you have to spend
  • No transaction fees for electronic purchases when using foreign currency
  • Multiple reload options - online, over the phone or in person
  • Manage your money online or over the phone 24/7
  • Spare card if in case one is lost or stolen

Go to site

Compare travel cards for UK

Rates last updated October 21st, 2017
Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
ANZ Travel Card ANZ Travel Card AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260 1.1% $0 Go to site More
Qantas Cash Qantas Cash AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50 $0 $0 Go to site More
NAB Traveller Card NAB Traveller Card AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD

Overseas: $0 per withdrawal via international ATMs

Domestic: $3.75 fee applies

$0 $0 Go to site More
Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport AUD, NZD, USD, EUR, GBP, THB, SGD, CAD, HKD, JPY Overseas: $0

Domestic: 2.95% of the amount withdrawn

$5 $0 Go to site More
Rates last updated October 21st, 2017
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$5
The greater of 2% or $4
$0 p.a.
Receive complimentary international travel insurance, access to a 24/7 concierge service and 0% foreign transaction fees.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$0
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months.
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Designed for travel, benefit from no international transaction fees on purchases and no currency conversion fees.
Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$5
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
Enjoy a high credit limit with complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Westpac Lite Card
0% of transaction value
$0
$108 p.a.
Keep credit card costs low with a maximum credit limit of $4,000 and no foreign transaction fees.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$5
Greater of 2% or $4.00
$99 p.a.
Offers an introductory balance transfer rate of 0% p.a. for 13 months with a 2% BT fee, plus platinum perks.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$5
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
No fees on overseas ATM withdrawal, no foreign transaction fees and earn 75,000 bonus More rewards points.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated October 21st, 2017
$
Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
$0 Overseas ATM withdrawal fees charged by Bankwest. Third party ATM fees and international transaction fees may still apply.
Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Otherwise, a $6 monthly fee applies. Unlimited Free withdrawals at Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. Go to site More
Westpac Choice
$0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 monthly fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More
St.George Complete Freedom Account
$0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
Visa $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More

How much Pound Sterling do I need for a trip to the UK?

LondonBudgetMidrangeExpensive
sleep

Dorm bed

£85 per night

Double room

£90 - £160 per night

Boutique hotel room

£200 per night

foodMarket-stall lunch
£5
Supermarket sandwich
£3.50 - £4.50
Two-course dinner
w/ glass of wine
£35
Three-course dinner
in top restaurant w/ wine
£60-90
theatreMany museums
Free
Theatre ticket
£15 - £60
Top theatre ticket
£65

*Prices are approximate and are subject to change.

Exchange rate history (AUD to GBP)

YearAverage annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Pound Sterling (GBP)
20130.619212
20140.547796
20150.492231
20160.551105
20170.601218

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 4 September 2017

Back to top

What is the best way to take your travel money to the UK?

There are a number of things to keep in mind when you’re selecting the right travel money product or mix of products to take with you to the United Kingdom. Consider the following:

  • Card payments are the norm in the UK.
  • You will need cash.
  • Westpac Group cardholders (Westpac, St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA) can avoid the international ATM fee by using Barclays Bank ATMs.
  • All travel cards let you load and spend Pound Sterling.
  • Citibank offers a debit card that waives the international transaction fee and international ATM fee.
  • Bankwest offers credit cards that waive the international transaction fee.
  • Traveller’s cheques are unnecessary.

Travel money options for UK at a glance

Travel money optionProsConsiderations
Debit cards for travel
  • Less expensive to withdraw cash than a credit card
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Debit cards will not incur an interest rate as it uses your own money from your transaction account
  • International ATM withdrawal fees may apply
  • Most of the debit cards will charge an additional currency conversion fees
  • Also subject to annual fees and other surcharges
Prepaid travel money cards
  • All travel money cards let you load and spend Pound Sterling
  • Ability to hold multiple foreign currencies 3% currency conversion fee can be avoided if you spend on a currency you’ve previously loaded
  • Secured by PIN & chip technology
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
  • Easily reloadable via a secure online platform
  • International ATM withdrawal fees, card issue fees, initial load fees, reload fees may apply
  • These cards do not have your name printed on the front
  • Some travel cards charge for inactivity fee
Credit cards for travel
  • Major credit card brands are readily accepted in the region
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Accepted worldwide
  • Credit card features include interest-free days on purchases, complimentary travel insurance and airport lounge access
  • Emergency card replacement
  • Withdrawing cash can be considered a "cash advance" and can charge you fees and high interests
  • Most credit cards charge a conversion fee of 3%
  • Card scheme anti-fraud guarantees don’t apply in a credit card with a positive balance
  • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
  • Attracts an annual fee
Traveller's cheques
  • Have the added security of needing ID to be cashed
  • Availability to cash at banks
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
  • Card schemes such as Mastercard give you a money back guarantee if you’re a victim of card fraud
  • Expect to be charged a commission when cashing your cheques
  • Fees for purchasing and cashing traveller's cheques may apply
  • Currency exchange rate varies over time
Cash
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

Travel money cards to take to the UK and travel money cards that should be avoided

All travel money card providers allow their customers to load and spend in Pound Sterling. The ability to hold multiple foreign currencies on a travel card is the main advantage of this product over a credit or debit card. When you spend on a currency you’ve previously loaded onto the card, you avoid the 3% fee for currency conversion, which is charged by most debit and credit card providers. Travel cards are also dual card accounts. This means you get a backup to use in case something happens to the main card. Although these cards do not have your name printed on the front, you shouldn’t have any troubles using your card for point of sale payments and to withdraw from an ATM, especially if your travel card is a Visa or Mastercard.

Using prepaid travel cards

  • What to take on your next trip to the UK?
    Think about how you're going to use your card. If you'll be making a large number of cash withdrawals, you may want to go for a card such as the NAB Traveller Card, which doesn't charge international ATM fees when withdrawing a supported currency.
    If you plan to reload your card often, think about a card with a low reload fee such as the Qantas Cash Card, which also has one of the lowest ATM withdrawal fees at £1.25 GBP compared to the £2 charged on most other cards. This card also has a low fee for withdrawing euros, which Ireland uses – €1.50 per withdrawal. If you're planning on stopping at any other destinations on your way, try to find a travel money card that supports those currencies too, as this will ultimately make it more useful. Also bear in mind that the Velocity Global Wallet and Qantas Cash Card allow you to earn Velocity Points and Qantas Points respectively, so this may factor into your comparison.
  • What not to take?
    Most of the cards above have similar withdrawal fees when withdrawing Pound Sterling, but if you plan to travel to Ireland, you may wish to stay away from the ANZ Travel Card and Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card, as these have higher fees of €2.20 per withdrawal compared to the average of €1.50-€2 per withdrawal. Also, if you plan on reloading your card often and in smaller amounts, you may wish to stay away from the Cash Passport Mastercard and Suncorp Cash Passport. These come with a hefty reload fee of 1.1% or $15, whichever is greater. This isn't a high fee if you load more than $1500 onto your card, but if you load amounts of say $500 onto your card each time, you'll effectively be paying a reload fee of 3%.

Using debit cards

Unlike a credit card, which is basically a loan, a debit card is attached to your bank account. Most debit cards have a similar fee structure to credit cards for international purchases, but it’s more expensive to withdraw cash on credit.

Like credit cards, debit cards are also subject to annual fees and other surcharges added by shops. Even though most businesses in the UK will readily accept any Visa or Mastercard debit card, using a travel-friendly debit account will go a long way towards saving on fees. The only travel-friendly debit account in the market is the Citibank Plus Transaction Account. With this account, you won't pay foreign transaction fees, currency conversion fees, ATM withdrawal fees or transfer fees when moving money to any overseas account. However, you may have to pay ATM owner fees depending on which ATM you use.

If you're a Westpac Group cardholder and you use your card at a Barclays Bank ATM, you won't have to pay the $5 withdrawal fee, but you'll still have to pay the currency conversion fee. You can read more about the Westpac International ATM Alliance here.

Using credit cards

A credit card allows you to purchase goods and services on credit in basically any currency without having to preload funds onto your card. Most credit cards charge a conversion fee of 3% when you transact in a foreign currency. Features of credit cards include interest-free days on purchases and expensive charges for withdrawing cash, and some credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance and airport lounge access. Read on to find out which Australian credit card will serve you best when travelling to the UK.

Credit card acceptance in the UK

The UK does not have credit card acceptance issues. Major credit card brands like Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Diners Club are readily accepted in the region. If you have an American Express and Diners Club credit card, you may have issues using your cards at small businesses — just like in Australia. Take a backup Visa or Mastercard if you’re using AMEX or Diners as your main card.

Below are some of the credit cards fees to take into consideration:

  • ATM withdrawal fees. The 28 Degrees Mastercard does not charge for international ATM withdrawals. Note that all credit cards may be subject to local ATM fees charged by the ATM operators.
  • Cash advance fees. In addition to ATM withdrawal fees, you may also be charged a cash advance fee.

In some cases, you can avoid cash advance fees by having your card preloaded with your own funds. By preloading the card with your own money, know that you aren't generally covered by the fraud protection standard with Australian credit cards. You can find a list of the providers that will and won’t waive fees when you preload your own money onto your card in the FAQ section of this page.

Back to top

Interview with William Eve about UK travel money options

William Eve

Travelling to the UK: During his latest trip to Europe, Will visited the UK. He took a combination of travel money cards and debit cards.

What credit cards, debit cards or travel money cards did you take with you?

Why did you take these cards?

Cash Passport Mastercard

        • Comes with a backup card
        • PIN protected
        • Accepted in most machines and for most currencies
        • Very easy to upload card with a user-friendly portal

ANZ Access Advantage Account

        • This was Will’s everyday bank card and he took it across as a backup card
        • Accepted in most locations but there is a pretty solid fee

Were there any places where your cards weren’t accepted?

Will found that there were a few places where the Cash Passport travel card was not accepted. Will said that in this instance he would use his backup ANZ card or he would go for a short walk to the next ATM or merchant. He didn’t have to look far to find a place where his Cash Passport would work.

How much cash would you take on a three-week holiday?

Will says he was a little shocked at how expensive things were in the UK, which he puts down to the exchange rate between the Australian dollar and the Pound Sterling. Will budgeted for AUD$150 per day for a total of AUD$3,000 over three weeks in the UK (including accommodation). Will says that he could have spent double this amount very easily.

What money tips do you have to anyone travelling to this country?

          • Pay attention to how much you are paying for food and alcohol. Will says eating out and drinking in London and other parts of the UK is extremely expensive. He gives this advice for keeping costs low: “Hunt out good pub meal bargains and shop at Tesco and Sainsbury's for your other meals. Try to avoid drinking coffee out.”
          • Will also recommends AirBnB, especially if you’re travelling as a group. Hostel dorm beds were upward of £35 a night.
Back to top

A guide to deciphering Pound Sterling banknotes

The Pound Sterling is the United Kingdom's official currency. A pound is subdivided into 100 pence. The pound is the fourth most traded currency in the foreign exchange market and the third most held reserve currency in global reserves. The Pound Sterling comes in denominations of £5, £10, £20 and £50 banknotes. The banknotes are issued by the Bank of England, which has been doing this for over 300 years.

BanknoteFeatures

£5

£5-note

The current £5 banknote features Elizabeth Fry, who made her name fighting for improved living conditions for women in European jails.
Issued on 21 May 2002.

£10

10-pound-note

The £10 banknote features Charles Darwin, the Victorian naturalist who developed the theory of evolution, on the back.
Also pictured in the second lowest denomination are an illustration of Darwin’s own magnifying lens, and the flora and fauna that he may have encountered on his travels.
Issued on 7 November 2000.

£20

20-pound-note

The current £20 banknote drew some commentary since it features the Scottish economist, Adam Smith. The note has an illustration of ‘The division of labour in pin manufacturing’.
Previous issues of Bank of England £20 notes were known to have suffered from a higher incidence of counterfeiting than any other denominations.
Issued on 13 March 2007.

£50

50-pound-note

The new-style £50 banknote entered circulation on 2 November 2011.
The note features two Britons on the back – Matthew Boulton and James Watt with steam engine and Boulton’s Soho factory.

Find cash and ATMs in the UK

List of Citibank ATM locations worldwide

Back to top

Make sure you’re covered by insurance on your trip to the UK

Luckily for Australians, the UK has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia, which means that you can get health care through its public system. However, travel insurance protects travellers against more than just health-related issues. Travel insurance provides cover for:

          • Lost luggage
          • Travel resumption
          • Lost or stolen travel documents
          • Cancellation
          • Personal liability
          • Repatriation

Made a search before? Retrieve your search results

At least one destination is required
Both dates are required
Add more travellers
Enter the age of each traveller between 0 and 99

Enter a valid email address

At least one destination is required
Starting date is required
Add more travellers
Enter the age of each traveller between 0 and 99

Enter a valid email address

Type or select your destination

Popular Destinations

Americas
Asia
Europe
Pacific
Africa
Can't find your destination? Just type it in the box above.

We compare products from

By submitting this form, you agree to finder.com.au privacy policy
Back to top
You might also be interested in:

Many Australians make the pilgrimage each year back to the motherland. Apart from being the parent of our Commonwealth nation, the UK is a perfect hub for Australians planning a European holiday.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

This page was last modified on 18 October 2017 at 2:21pm.

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, read the PDS or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    skyeMay 22, 2016

    I am going to London in June, I live in the U.S. If I purchase a prepaid travel card for example with 1000 pounds on it, would I also have to pay conversion fees or other fees or will the amount I have on the card be what I have and that’s it?

    • Staff
      SallyMay 23, 2016Staff

      Hi Skye,

      Thanks for your question.

      As an Australian financial comparison service, we usually only provide information regarding Australian travel products.

      Usually with a prepaid card, you need to load the card with your local currency and then transfer it to the supported currency that you need to use on your holiday. Once the funds are converted to the local currency, e.g. GBP, then you shouldn’t be charged currency conversion fees when spending. Prepaid cards can usually be topped up as you need to, though you may be charged a fee when you reload the card with funds depending on the card you have.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  2. Default Gravatar
    PeterFebruary 21, 2015

    will I experience any problems with a visa debit and credit card held with peoples choice credit union

    • Staff
      ShirleyFebruary 23, 2015Staff

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your question.

      You shouldn’t have any issues with your Visa debit card and credit card. It would be good to notify People’s Choice Credit Union before you leave.

      Be mindful that a number of fees could apply to your transactions.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

Ask a question