Travel Tips

The Best Places to Exchange Currency in London: A Handy Guide

We all know what makes the world go round – figuratively speaking, that is. Money is an important part of travel, and in the U.K. (and thus London), that money is pounds – Great British Pounds (GBP). If you’re planning your first trip to London, you might wonder: Do I need pounds? How do I exchange my home currency to get pounds?

On our recent trip (September 2022), I never got – or even touched – any pound notes or coins; that’s how ubiquitous contactless payments are now! So while you don’t actually need pounds to visit London anymore (almost everywhere accepts contactless payment), you can still exchange and use them should you need or want to.

Exchange Currency in London Hero

(If you’re unfamiliar with contactless payments, it’s the ability to pay using your bank or credit card directly on a card reader without swiping or inserting the chip portion. Many aspects of life in London use contactless payment, including the London Underground and buses.)

Here’s a quick guide, including specific places to exchange currency in London near some of the most popular areas of the city like Buckingham Palace, Oxford Street, Leicester Square and London Bridge.

Where to Exchange Currency in London

Before jumping into the specific places in London where you can exchange currency, I thought it might help to cover the general types of places that do currency exchange. Below are the three main categories of currency exchange institutions available.

Bureau de Change 

As soon as they arrive in London, many travelers turn to a bureau de change to exchange money. A bureau de change is a business that makes its profit by buying foreign currency and then selling the same currency at a higher rate; I’ve included a few options for these in the next section.

Compared to the following two options, a bureau de change is the best place to exchange money in London. As heads up, you want to be careful with bureau de change offices that are located in London’s most central areas and airports. They tend to add on higher fees than the kiosks in other places.

ATM Cashpoint 

You can also withdraw pounds from ATMs using your credit card. ATMs are called cash points in the UK, and while they are an alternative, they are far from convenient. 

Like most travelers, your goal is to get the best exchange rate in London and make the most of the money you’ve brought on this trip. In this sense, cashpoints are not the way to go for three reasons: 

  1. They impose bank fees.
  2. They apply foreign transaction charges.
  3. They offer poorer exchange rates.

As you can see, you’ll be losing a lot of money when withdrawing pounds. If you have an emergency and need to use a cashpoint, try to use a debit card as opposed to a credit card in a foreign ATM as fees tend to be lower. Also, be sure to check with your bank on the specific coverage areas and international transaction or foreign currency fees they apply. 

Your Bank (at Home)

You can exchange money in a bank in London as long as you hold an account with that bank. Many banks have the option to order your foreign currency in advance and arrange to have it delivered to your home or made available to be picked up at a financial center. What’s nice about this option is that – while it isn’t in London –, using your home bank typically means you get a very fair exchange rate and low or no commissions and fees for exchanging your currency to pounds.

If you want to exchange money at your bank before departing to London, you should reach out to them a few weeks in advance to arrange the exchange.

Where to Get the Best Exchange Rates in London

Exchange Currency in London

While it’s good to know the general places that can exchange currency for you in London, it’s more helpful to know which ones are actually going to give you a fair exchange rate on your currency. Here are three companies known for their fair or favorable exchange rates in London.

Thomas Exchange Global

Thomas Exchange Global is considered by many the best place to exchange money in London. Its exchange rates are hard to beat and charge a 0% commission. Moreover, Thomas Exchange Global offers over 120 currencies which is more than most other providers.

You can order online and agree to collect your currency at your nearest bureau de change in London or get it delivered to your home.

Moneycorp 

Moneycorp is one of the largest and most experienced foreign exchange businesses. It is the second-largest foreign exchange broker in the United Kingdom and claims to beat bank exchange rates. Moneycorp isn’t very clear on its commission fees, though. 

Post Office 

The post office is used by many travelers and British people to exchange money in London. Their omnipresence in practically every high street has made post offices very popular places for money exchange in London. They exchange up to 80 foreign currencies without any commission charge.

Where to Exchange Money Near Oxford Street

Oxford Street arguably is the best place to exchange currency in London. As one of the most popular streets in the city, you’ll find plenty of bureau de change offices on Oxford Street. You can also find numerous offices in the streets close to Hanover Square. 

If you need to exchange money so you can spend money on Oxford Street, here are the top three spots I recommend for that transaction:

1. Moneycorp – House of Fraser branch

2. Thomas Exchange Global 

3. Best Exchange (operated by Currency Exchange Corporation)

Where to Exchange Money Near Leicester Square

The beating heart of London’s West End, some of the best bureau de changes are located near Leicester Square. If you need to exchange more dollars for pounds in this tourist hotspot, here’s what I recommend.

1. Thomas Exchange Global 

2. Change Group  

  • Address: 35 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0AT,

3. Eurochange 

Where to Exchange Money Near London Bridge

London Bridge is a consolidated tourist spot in London, so you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to currency exchange kiosks in this area. If you’re in London Bridge enjoying a bite at Borough Market or about to ascend the Shard, here are a few places I recommend for currency exchange.

1. ACE-FX

2. Thomas Exchange Global – Cannon Street Branch

3. BFC Exchange

Where to Exchange Money Near Buckingham Palace

If you need to exchange money and happen to be near Buckingham Palace, your best bet is heading to Victoria. The Victoria Place Shopping Centre houses numerous bureau de changes. 

Here are the money changers I recommend if you need to exchange your home currency for pounds in the area around Buckingham Palace.

1. Thomas Exchange Global

2. International Currency Exchange (ICE)

  • Located adjacent to Platform 7, Victoria Station, SW1W 1JT,

3. Access Bureau 

Have any other questions about where to exchange currency in London? Let me know in the comments below!

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    Valerie fell in love with London on her first trip to the city way back in 2011. Since then, she spent a year living in London and visits as often as she can. Join her to explore my favorite city on earth and learn everything you need to discover the best London has to offer!

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