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Paper or Plastic? (Currency question)

Paper or Plastic? (Currency question)

Old Nov 27, 10, 1:26 pm
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Paper or Plastic? (Currency question)

Planning my trip for this coming week to London. I haven't travelled to the UK in over 3 years and this will be my first non-business trip. (When on business trips, we had petty cash in local currency so I generally didn't need to make exchange in advance or pay fees.)

While I expect to use my credit cards (Citi Aadvantage Visa or Citi Mastercard) for much of my shopping and dining, I know I'll need some cash for taxis, etc. I have about 5 in coins I will be bringing with me.

1) should I just use an ATM to withdraw cash? Or preorder cash to pick up at Heathrow Travelex site? (no fee for over 100 ordered and rates seem good)

2) How much cash? Can I presume most transactions can be completed via credit card? Specifically where might I need hard currency?

Much obliged for information.
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Old Nov 27, 10, 2:21 pm
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Originally Posted by kbins View Post
Planning my trip for this coming week to London. I haven't travelled to the UK in over 3 years and this will be my first non-business trip. (When on business trips, we had petty cash in local currency so I generally didn't need to make exchange in advance or pay fees.)

While I expect to use my credit cards (Citi Aadvantage Visa or Citi Mastercard) for much of my shopping and dining, I know I'll need some cash for taxis, etc. I have about 5 in coins I will be bringing with me.

1) should I just use an ATM to withdraw cash? Or preorder cash to pick up at Heathrow Travelex site? (no fee for over 100 ordered and rates seem good)

2) How much cash? Can I presume most transactions can be completed via credit card? Specifically where might I need hard currency?

Much obliged for information.
Visa and MC accepted everywhere! Taxis take plastic too. I don't know what your spending habits are. But money flows easily out of your pockets in London!!! lol If there for a week, I'd have 200-300 quid ...
I always use ATMs. Bank doesn't charge me fee on top of the exchange rate. Many ATMs now offer you a rate at time of withdrawal. I usually find the rate is completely crap.
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Old Nov 27, 10, 3:04 pm
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chip and pin?

will it be a problem that my US-based cards don't have a chip and PIN?
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Old Nov 27, 10, 3:09 pm
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Originally Posted by kbins View Post
will it be a problem that my US-based cards don't have a chip and PIN?
Not at ATMs, stores, or restaurants, I very rarely have problems and none of my cards have a chip either. Some train station ticketing machines won't work (e.g., at King's Cross), you'll have to go to the ticketing queue instead.
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Old Nov 27, 10, 3:53 pm
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UK always seem to accept nonchip cards. Plastic rules in the UK and there are lots of US and Russian tourists who don't have EMV so they're good about accepting them. I almost never use cash in the UK
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Old Nov 27, 10, 4:16 pm
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Whatever you do don't change money at the airport.
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Old Nov 27, 10, 4:27 pm
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I use the ATM at LHR that is right before the escalators when I exit the plane. I get enough cash for cabs and quick meals. I use my CC everywhere else. Never had an issue with no chip (although the cashier at Tesco has to run the card for me). ATM's are the cheapest and easiest way to get cash. I would not count on the taxi's taking credit cards, only a few do and they are few and far between (and never where you need them). Enjoy your lesiure time.
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Old Nov 27, 10, 5:54 pm
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Do not use plastic in cabs. The commission charged is a rip off - somewhere around 10% - with a fat minimum fee. Cash is preferred in convenience stores, pubs etc too, if only to avoid annoying the locals.
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Old Nov 27, 10, 6:54 pm
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[QUOTE=Swanhunter;15309658]Do not use plastic in cabs. The commission charged is a rip off - somewhere around 10% - with a fat minimum fee. QUOTE]

Agreed. That's why I don't use cc's in London cabs. Other countries I've been to not an issue. Plus not all cabs take cc.

I usually do pull GBP from the ATM when I land at LHR to handle cash stuff during my trip. I think the exchange rate pretty much matches xe.com. I don't do the exchange counter though, as they are basically a rip-off.

Cheers.
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Old Nov 28, 10, 7:19 am
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Originally Posted by Silver Fox View Post
Whatever you do don't change money at the airport.
I noticed last week that the Travelex booth directly outside baggage reclaim in T5 had a 20% spread on US$
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Old Nov 28, 10, 11:28 am
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Originally Posted by Raffles View Post
I noticed last week that the Travelex booth directly outside baggage reclaim in T5 had a 20% spread on US$
And they probably charge a fee in addition! Remember the days when LHR used to require them to give the bank rate? Long gone.
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Old Nov 28, 10, 11:32 am
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[QUOTE=SkiAdcock;15310228]
Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
Do not use plastic in cabs. The commission charged is a rip off - somewhere around 10% - with a fat minimum fee. QUOTE]

Agreed. That's why I don't use cc's in London cabs. Other countries I've been to not an issue. Plus not all cabs take cc.

>>>
I've found the cc charge in Australia too. To the extent that expenses are not reimbursed if a cc was used to pay for them
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Old Nov 28, 10, 11:37 am
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I avoid booths of any kind and use ATM's whenever possible. I have heard that airport ATM's do not give good rates but have never checked to see if this is true.

BEWARE of ATM/Bank Card charges. Many banks impose charges for foreign ATMs. Mine charges a 3% foreign transaction charge, Also foreign ATMs often charge a fee of $1.00 to $3.00.

I got s Schwab debit card. It imposes no charges (no 3% or other fees) and reimburses you for any foreign or domestic ATM charge.
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Old Nov 28, 10, 1:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Raffles View Post
I noticed last week that the Travelex booth directly outside baggage reclaim in T5 had a 20% spread on US$
I noticed the same at LGW last week.
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Old Nov 28, 10, 4:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Raffles View Post
I noticed last week that the Travelex booth directly outside baggage reclaim in T5 had a 20% spread on US$
For GBP to other currencies the rates tend to be good IF BOOKED IN ADVANCE
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