what currency does london use?

Navigating London Using the British Pound Sterling

What currency does London use? The marvellous capital city of the United Kingdom operates on the British Pound Sterling (GBP), one of the oldest currencies still in use today and a fundamental pillar of the global financial system.

The city offers an extensive blend of historical landmarks, cutting-edge fashion, and bustling financial districts. It is a holiday destination that captivates the imagination of travellers and business professionals alike.

As you plan your travels to London, it is important to know about what currency is used and how to obtain it. In this comprehensive guide, we will go through what you need to know about the currency. This includes exchange rates, mobile exchange rates apps, how and where to exchange money, specific things to know about the currency and frequently asked questions. This guide has you completely covered.

Knowing a little bit about how the currency works, will benefit you in saving money at the end of the day and making your visit to London as smooth as it is memorable.

Hotels in London England UK.

A guide to what currency does london use

Currency in London infographic.What Currency Does London Use Infographic

what currency does london use?

London uses the same official currency as the entire United Kingdom.

The official currency for the entire United Kingdom is the British Pound Sterling, symbolised as £ and coded as GBP. Obtaining the Sterling can be done either before travelling to the UK or from the UK itself.

The following are the official banknotes and coins used in the United Kingdom.

  • All four UK banknotes: £5, £10, £20 and £50
  • All eight UK coins: 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2.

How to exchange money + london currency converter

There are around 180 currencies worldwide, each having a conversion rate to the pound sterling and vice versa. It is impossible to mention these exchange rates one by one here, as they change very frequently. However, we have provided a widget below that has all the latest exchange rates for the majority of currencies. All you have to do is simply enter the amount you would like to convert and choose the currencies.

Below are a few common exchanges. It is important to note that the exchange amount can be different, so the following is an approximate.

  • 1 Sterling Pound to American Dollars comes to $1.25
  • 1 American Dollar is equal to £0.80
  • British Pound to American Dollars: £20 = $25.04
  • Euro to British pound: €50 = £42.75
  • 100 pounds to dollars is equal to $124.57
  • 500 Sterling pounds to Dollars comes to $622.85

To get the latest exchange rate use the widget below by entering the amount in the currencies you desire, and it will give you the result.

our Smart Spending: Navigating London with Cash, Cards, and Contactless Apps

Every time we go on a trip to London, we always take cash and bank cards. We typically use cash to purchase small and cheap items and when we use taxis. The rest of our purchases are done by card or contactless mobile payments. We usually take around a couple of hundred pounds for each person. We get our sterling from our local bank, which is pre-booked in advance.

Also, as contactless payments are on the rise, we have started using Revolut. This is an amazing app that saves us from paying many fees and at the same time tracking our transactions and setting budget goals promptly. Using Revolut has also allowed us not to carry many bank cards, especially when visiting crowded places. Also with Revolut, if you lose your card, or it gets stolen, you can immediately freeze your card.

history of the currency in london

  • The Sterling has a history that dates back more than 1200 years. The currency is one of the oldest currencies in existence. 
  • In its original title, the British pound sterling is called 'libra', which refers to balance and weight in Latin.
  • Since the Bank of England issued its first-pound banknote more than 300 years ago, the banknotes have undergone several changes.
  • Following the Bank of England's establishment in 1694, pound notes began circulating in England, originally in handwritten form.
  • A pound coin was first introduced during Henry VII's reign in 1489.
  • Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022, the Bank of England issued a new design with Charles III featured on the money. These will start to circulate in 2024.
Clients at a commercial store paying with contactless payments.Contactless Payment at a Commercial Establishment

Where to exchange money - currency exchange places

When getting a hold of British pounds in cash for the first time, we recommend visiting your bank, as most likely they will offer the best exchange rates and lower fees. Certain banks will also allow you to order your foreign currency beforehand and have it delivered or picked up from your local branch.

Make it a point to avoid exchanging money at airports, as they offer poor exchange rates and higher fees, so basically you will get less currency for your money. This option should be your last resort if you have no other choice.

If you make it to London and still have no Sterling, what shall you do?

  • Visit an ATM cash point: ATM cash points can be found here, or you can visit a bank with a cash point. Keep in mind that fees still apply at these ATMs as you are using your home credit card, and you are withdrawing a foreign currency.
  • Bureau de Change: Several places exchange money for you. EuroChange has numerous establishments around London. Other companies provide this service.
  • Post Offices Branches: These branches can help you with your exchanges. The major ones are located in Baker Street, Trafalgar Square, Camden, London Bridge, and Oxford Street. Use this map to help you find the exact location of the post office branch. Just enter 'London' in the search box.

Currency Converter mobile apps

We have provided a couple of apps that could be very helpful for off-the-hand currency exchanges. Use the links provided to download the app on your mobile phone. The links will open directly to either the Play Store (Android Devices) or the App Store (Apple Devices).

Essential Tips for Navigating London with the British Pound

  • Shall I use Cash or Card?: The best method of payment is the card as you do not have to carry lots of cash with you, however, if you prefer paying with cash, you are more than free to do so. Both are accepted methods of payment in London.
  • Bank Fees: When withdrawing cash or using your card when performing a transaction, you are bound to pay fees one way or another; either transactional or conversion fees.
  • Contactless Payments: This method of payment is highly usable across London, including on buses, tubes and also while shopping. It is a method where you only need to tap your card or mobile phone on the card machine. However, your PIN will need to be used to verify the transaction.
  • Banknotes: As mentioned above, the British Pound banknotes range from £5 to £50 and coins from 1p to £2. This currency can be used in London and the rest of the United Kingdom (Including Whales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland).
  • Scotland and Northern Ireland Banknotes: If you are travelling from Scotland or Northern Ireland, the banknotes used over there are issued slightly differently compared to England and Wales. Although they are still Sterling, there are a few differences. It is highly recommended that you exchange them for the legally used banknotes used in England and Wales. By law, commercial premises can refuse to accept your cash if you pay in Scottish or Northern Ireland banknotes. [1]
  • ATM Withdrawals: Withdrawing money is possible from any ATM with your bank card. Try to use an ATM that is connected to a bank to avoid certain fees, however, if you are withdrawing from a currency that is not Sterling, you will have certain conversion fees.
  • Shopping: All shops list their prices in British Pound Sterling. Although there are, certain stores that will have prices listed under multiple currencies to help foreigners out with conversions.
  • Foreign Currency: The use of your home currency cash is not allowed to be used for purchases in the United Kingdom. Your cash has to be exchanged to the UK currency which is Sterling.
London UK Currency Banknotes.British Pound Sterling Banknotes

Planning your trip to London

Getting to London

Getting to and travelling around London shouldn't be complicated, as the city boasts exceptional global transport connections. Several airports around the city include London City, Heathrow, and Gatwick airports, while the Eurostar Railway provides a direct link from continental Europe. When exploring the city, you can use a network of trains, buses, and the London Underground, also known as the Tube.

Where to stay in london

Finding accommodation can sometimes be daunting, as there is so much to choose from. Picking the perfect place to stay starts with your budget and your top needs in the hotel. Hotels in London range from the majestic, opulent hotels in Mayfair to the more budget-friendly ones in Paddington. The main requirement you should concentrate on is that you feel comfortable and that you get what you are paying for. Do your research properly, and we are here to start helping you out. Below are articles on several recommended hotels based on their location.

What to do in London

The city is filled with a plethora of activities and attractions. Explore the city's famous sites such as Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace. Immerse yourself in culture at top-tier museums like the British Museum and the National History Museum. Enjoy the bustling atmosphere of markets like Borough, Covent Garden and Camden, and take leisurely walks in Hyde Park or other scenic parks across London.

See our guide to the best things to do in London.

A ticket machine at an underground station.Underground Tube Ticket Machine

Throughout this article, we have touched on different entities of the currency to give you a picture of what currency London uses. The topics explored were mainly on the use of the currency and how to obtain it for your travels to London. We hope these tips have helped you understand better how the currency works in London.

how many days in london?

There is so much to discover in London and its endless wonders can make getting to know it a challenge! Are you unsure how many days you will need? To ensure you make the most of your time exploring this dynamic city, we've developed multiple itineraries for your planning.

1 Day | 2 Days | 3 Days | 4 Days | 5 Days | 6 Days | 7 Days | 10 Days | 4 Day Christmas Itinerary | Trip To London in December

FAQs about currency used in london uK

What currency does London use?

The currency used in London is the British Pound Sterling. The symbol is £ and its currency code is GBP.

Can I use Euros or any other currency in London?

No, foreign currency cannot be used in London or anywhere else within the United Kingdom. Only British Pounds can be used.

Should I carry cash before travelling to London?

The recommended approach is to always be prepared with some cash in Sterling before flying to London in the United Kingdom.

How much is a pound equivalent to in pence?

One (1) Pound is equivalent to a hundred (100) pence.

Do ATMs in London take charges when withdrawing money from a different currency?

Yes, if you are withdrawing from an ATM which provides foreign currency, charges will apply.

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Currency in London UK.

article sources - What currency does london use

  • British Pounds Banknotes - Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay
  • Metro Ticket Machine - Photo by Liliana Drew
  • Commercial Contact Less Payment - Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

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