British Currency: 10 London Tips to Know Before You Go

October 31, 2018

While you are in London, you want to fit in with the locals and not stand out as a tourist. It will help if you understand the culture and the currency in advance so you can be confident during transactions. The London Connection team members have traveled around the world, and have picked up some ideas of how to make purchases and stay as safe as if you were at home.

1. England uses the British Pound as currency. You can stay informed daily about the GBP exchange rate here: British Currency

2. There are 100 pence (p) to a pound (£). The available coins are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, £1 and £2. There are no One Pound bills, and you will get used to 1 and 2 Pound coins.

3. Bank of England notes come £5, £10, £20, and £50. You will enjoy all the faces of royalty, dignitaries, and other “note-ables.” £100 notes ARE NOT currently produced.

4. Get cash ONLY in hotel or bank lobbies or their fixed ATM/Cash Point. DO NOT USE currency exchange at the airport (it costs more) or portable ATMs you see in the grocery store or in the neighborhoods. Portable ATMs have a higher risk of identity theft.

5. Don’t take lots of cash back home expecting to use it next year. The bank notes are updated and the old ones are obsolete. All current notes have a shiny section made of mylar seals. Bring your outdated notes into a bank while you are there. They should be able to trade you.

This is an outdated 10 Pound note with Charles Darwin. Notice, there is no shiny mylar section with the round seals you see on the other notes. 

6. Many travelers are using their cards for purchases as they travel, and that is certainly a good idea in many ways. Flashing a wad of cash each time you eat at a restaurant or buy a souvenir can turn you into a target in a jiffy. This is good advice for wherever you are in the world. Be wise and aware of your surroundings. Be sure to cover your hand as you enter your pin Number, and then quickly step out of public view to put your money away.

7. Make sure you have a CHIP credit card, and that the machine you use reads the CHIP. That is most secure. 

8. Never let anyone take your card. Groceries, restaurants, shops should all have the CHIP reader that comes to you. If the card leaves your hand, the other person can use a device that quickly scans all your information and they can use your card for their own purchases.

9. Contact your bank and credit card company to let them know when and where you will be traveling. This week, we found that AMEX and Capital One don’t need your plans in advance. If you have their APP on your phone, they can verify your travels through that. Be sure to verify what the foreign transaction fees will be. You don’t want any surprises.

10. Keep your cash and cards in a secure place close to your body. We suggest RFID wallets or purses — they have a protective material to shield your information. Money belts are also an option.

Now you are a British currency expert! If you would like to find other information about traveling in London, visit our Anglophile blog. A specific article that many of our vacation apartments guests have enjoyed reviewing is: 13 FAQs about London.

Thanks to Marilyn Collis for her expertise of all things London in compiling this list. Any further questions, feel free to contact

We believe that London is very safe so long as bags are zipped up and people are sensible. Enjoy your time in this beautiful and royal city. You will be amazed at the architecture, the many free museums, the varied cuisine, the amazing theater productions, and the charm that is London. STAY SAFE AND HAVE FUN!