Best places to exchange currency in London

Gert Svaiko

Visiting London? There’s so much to see and do in the UK capital, so you’ll have plenty of brilliant experiences to spend your money on.

Before you do, you’ll need to get your money sorted. For visitors from other countries, this means finding the best places to exchange currency in London.

Unfortunately, foreign exchange is a big business. While lots of companies claim to offer the ‘best’ and ‘most competitive’ rates around, this isn’t always the case, and many exchanges and providers add a mark-up to the mid-market exchange rate – the one you see on Google – that results in less money in your hand.

The money services provider Wise doesn’t do that and gets you the mid-market rate every time you need to exchange currency. Check out the Wise account and order a Wise card that automatically converts your money to the local currency in over 150 countries. There’s only a tiny, transparent conversion fee – no foreign transaction fees, sneaky mark-ups, or hidden fees.*

Learn more about the Wise account 💱

Best places to exchange currency when you’re in London

London is a major city, so there are numerous places where you can exchange money.

Three popular foreign exchange companies in London are Travelex, eurochange and Currency Online Group. The details for these services are listed in the table below, along with a couple of other options.

Beware though, that fee-free and commission-free foreign exchange transactions don't exist; and foreign exchange bureaus that make these claims are misleading. While they may not be charging you an outright fee, they build a profit into their exchange rate.

A quick tip here is to always check a reputable currency converter before exchanging your money, so you’ll know what the mid-market rate is – and how much is the mark-up added by the exchange.

Currency BureauLocationsContact information
TravelexTravelex has a branch at Selfridges on Oxford Street, as well as at all Heathrow Terminals¹0345 872 7627¹
Eurochange/NM MoneyBranches across London, including Paddington Tube Station²Contact numbers for each branch
Currency Online GroupBranch at Waterloo, Central London³0208 050 2073³

Tips for exchanging your money in London, UK

Before you part with your hard-earned cash, it’s useful to learn a little more about the process of exchanging money in different currencies.

Here are a few tips to consider when exchanging currency in London.

The pound’s value changes over time

The Great Britain Pound (GBP, also known as pound sterling) has a floating exchange rate, just like many major and widely traded currencies.⁴ This means that its value is determined by current supply and demand and will fluctuate over time. Factors affecting the rate include economic, political and other changes.

This is why timing is everything when exchanging currency. Try timing your exchange for when your home currency is stronger compared to the pound.

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Always check the mid-market exchange rate

The pound is freely traded on the open market, and the exchange rate is the value at which traders are prepared to buy or sell at a given point in time.

The mid-market exchange rate, also known as the interbank rate or spot rate, is the midpoint between the buy and sell rates from global markets.

If the exchange rate you’re offered differs from the mid-market rate, there’s a good chance there’s a mark-up added on top. This means that the provider is making commission from the exchange, while you get a poorer rate. So, it’s always worth checking whether this kind of extra fee is hidden within the exchange rate.

You can monitor the live mid-market exchange rate at any time by checking our online currency converter.


Avoid airport and hotel currency exchanges

It’s never advisable to exchange your money at airports or hotels, but if it’s an absolute necessity there are places in London where you can do this.

There are foreign exchange bureaus, run by Travelex, in all Heathrow's terminals.⁵ These offer ATM cash withdrawal, as well as currency to order online and collect for no commission fees.

Gatwick Airport similarly has various foreign exchange bureaus, run by ChangeGroup. These offer collection on key currencies during working hours 05:00 - 22:00 and 0% commission for reserve and collect travel money.⁶

You may also be able to exchange currency at your hotel. However, you’ll rarely get a good deal at the airport or at a hotel. Because they’re often a last resort, airport and hotel kiosks tend to set unfavourable exchange rates and higher commission. It’s the price you pay for convenience.

ATM withdrawals

Some international banks may offer free withdrawals from their ATMs worldwide. For example, premier customers at Citibank can access the Citigold lounge at Canary Wharf to withdraw EUR and USD from its Travel Money ATM.⁷

You could also ask your home bank if they have arrangements with banks in London, or if they’re part of the Global ATM Alliance. This is a network of banks that allow customers to use foreign ATMs free or at reduced cost, Barclays is a member, and has 3,488 ATMs UK-wide.⁸

Some ATMs will offer to perform the transaction in your home currency. While it sounds convenient on the surface, it's a trap. These ATMs use their own exchange rate, and it’ll likely be weaker than what you’d receive if you proceed without conversion. Always choose to be charged in the local currency. So, GBP in this case.

Spend your money before leaving

To avoid doubling up on exchange fees, try to spend all of your foreign currency before leaving the UK. This is because you’re likely to lose money when exchanging the currency back.

Alternatively, just keep your GBP for your next trip. After all, it’s another good excuse to head back to London.

Wise – Get more out of currency conversions when travelling abroad

Unless you know what to look out for, you could be paying a lot more than you should on your foreign exchange. Always check how far the rate you’re receiving deviates from the mid-market rate, and shop around for the best deal possible.

Even better, consider getting a Wise account from the money services provider Wise. It’s not a bank account but offers many similar features. As well as being able to send and receive money internationally for less, you can also get an international Wise card for low-cost spending abroad.*

This contactless card automatically converts currency at the mid-market exchange rate at the moment you spend. You won’t pay any foreign transaction charges, only a small fee to convert the currency. Or if you have the currency in your account already, it’s free.

Sign up with Wise today 💰

*Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.

Sources used for this article:

  1. Travelex - stores
  2. Eurochange - London branches
  3. Currency Online Group - contact
  4. Investopedia - GBP definition
  5. Heathrow - currency exchange
  6. Gatwick Airport - currency cash
  7. Citibank - travel money
  8. No Fee Overseas - global ATM alliance

Sources checked on 21-Dec-2023.

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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