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Travel Money Guide: UK

Compare travel money options for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales before you go to save on fees.

Heading to The United Kingdom (the UK)? You can compare travel money cards for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in this guide to find the right option before you leave Australia.

You can choose between a dedicated travel money card, a debit or credit card with overseas perks or opt to buy foreign cash for the UK before you leave. This guide outlines the pros and cons of each option for you.

Compare travel money options for the UK

Name Product Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Initial Load Fee Reload fee
Wise Travel Money Card

2 free ATM withdrawals per month up to AUD$350, then AUD$1.50 and 1.75% per withdrawal

Hold and spend funds in more than 40 currencies, with competitive exchange rates and $0 fees for the first 2 ATM withdrawals (up to AUD$350) per month.
Cash Passport Platinum Mastercard
USD $2.50, EUR €2.50, GBP £2.00, NZD $3.50, THB ฿80.00, CAD $3.50, HKD $18.00, JPY ¥260.00, SGD $3.50, AUD $3.50, AED 10.00
$0 (via online) or $0 (via branch)
Name Product Interest-free period Purchase rate p.a. Annual fee
Westpac Lite Card
Up to 45 days on purchases
Save with 0% foreign transaction fees, a low interest rate for purchases and cashback offers through Westpac Extras.
Name Product Card access Own network ATM fee Monthly Account Fee Internatonal ATM Fee Foreign transaction fee
Westpac Choice
Take advantage of Westpac's Global Alliance and save on overseas ATM fees at over 50,000 locations worldwide with fee-free cash withdrawals.
HSBC Everyday Global Account
Earn 2% cashback on tap and pay purchases.

ING Orange Everyday Account
Receive a rebate on any international transaction fees and international ATM fees when you deposit at least $1,000 a month and make at least 5 card purchases.

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


Dorm bed

£85 per night

Double room

£90 - £160 per night

Boutique hotel room

£200 per night

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

*Prices are approximate and are subject to change.

Exchange rate history (AUD to GBP)

YearAverage annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Pound Sterling (GBP)

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 4 September 2017

Today's exchange rate AUD to GBP

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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
  • 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?
    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.
  • 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 CommBank Travel Money Card, as it has 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 Latitude 28° Global Platinum 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.

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Interview with William Eve about UK travel money options

William EveTravelling 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?

    • 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.
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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.




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.



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.



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.



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.

Send money from Australia to the UK

Find cash and ATMs in the UK

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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
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    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.

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    4 Responses

      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?

        SallyMay 23, 2016Finder

        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.



      Default Gravatar
      PeterFebruary 21, 2015

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

        ShirleyFebruary 23, 2015Finder

        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.


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