Edinburgh Airport Currency Exchange: Should you exchange money at the airport?


If you’re off on holiday, or on an overseas business trip, you might need to exchange some cash into the local currency to spend while you’re abroad. It’s possible to get your travel money as you pass through Edinburgh airport - but it’s worth knowing that the fees and exchange rates used at airport currency exchange desks are typically not the best out there. You might get a better deal if you order online and collect it at the airport, instead. That means that you can still save, even if you’ve booked an impulsive last minute getaway.

To cut your costs even more, you could choose to use a currency specialist like Wise, instead. Consider getting a multi-currency account, to access cheap currency exchange, and convenient overseas spending with a travel money card. More on that, and all you need to know about currency exchange at Edinburgh Airport, in this handy guide.

How to convert currency at Edinburgh airport? Can you order currency online?

Currency services at Edinburgh Airport are operated by ICE - International Currency Exchange. You’ll find ICE outlets at 6 locations within the airport, including landside and airside, so you can get your travel money before or after security, or while you’re waiting for your baggage to arrive.¹ Desks are open according to the flight schedule so you should always find one to serve you, no matter when you arrive at the airport.

You’ll be able to exchange your currency on the spot at an ICE desk, or you can use their click and collect service to order online and pick up your travel money as you pass through the airport. Ordering online will get you a preferential exchange rate, and you could even select the currency you need, and collect on the same day as you order for major currencies. Simply order online, print your voucher, and take it along with your payment, to the collection point of your choice.²

ICE also offer a pre-paid travel money card called the Mastercard Clear+ card. This allows you to top up your card in advance with the currency you need, and then spend wherever you see the Mastercard symbol, or withdraw local cash from ATMs when you get to your destination.¹

Need holiday money, or looking to exchange currency for your next trip? Wise may be able to save you money

Planning your next trip, and wondering how you are going to be able to spend in the local currency of the place that you are visiting - but also get the most value for your money? Wise might be able to help with this.

Rather than getting your travel money when you’re in the airport, why not check out Wise’s borderless multi-currency account that comes with a debit MasterCard. Compare the best travel money exchange rates and give it a try.

You can open a borderless account online, and get a linked debit card to make spending overseas easy. You can then spend in the local currency almost anywhere in the world.

Banks and currency conversion providers often give you a bad exchange rate to make extra profits. Wise is different. Its smart new technology skips hefty international transfer fees by connecting local bank accounts all around the world. Oh, and Wise gives you the most fair exchange rate out there, the mid-market exchange rate.

It couldn’t be simpler - and because you’ll avoid many of the costs of regular airport currency exchange services, you may find that you have more to spend on yourself while you’re travelling.

Now, back to what you came here to read.

Exchanging your money at the airport may sound convenient - but are you really getting the best exchange rate?

If you choose to exchange your currency at the airport, you’ll need to check both the upfront fees and the exchange rate used for your transaction. That’s because it’s common practise for exchange services to wrap their profit up in the exchange rate they use. This means they can advertise zero commission currency exchange, while still making money by adding a markup to their exchange rate. Unfortunately for customers, this makes it tricky to see what your currency exchange is really costing you, and can mean you pay more than you need to overall.

To check if there’s a markup on the exchange rate for your currency pairing, you’ll need to compare it to the mid-market rate. The mid-market rate is the one used by banks selling currency to other financial institutions, which makes it a fair benchmark to use. Get the mid-market rate for your currency, using an online currency converter, or a simple Google search. You’ll then be able to compare this to the exchange rates you find at Edinburgh airport, to see any markup applied.

Not all currency exchange services add a markup to the exchange rate they use. Wise prefer to use the mid-market exchange rate, and charge a simple, transparent fee for currency exchange. This makes it easy to see what you’re paying, and can often work out cheaper compared to airport currency exchange services.

What are the fees to exchange currency at the airport?

ICE don’t charge an upfront fee for their currency exchange. However, there may well be a markup added to the exchange rate used - especially if you choose an on the spot currency conversion.

The exchange rates used by ICE vary depending on the branch you use, with advance orders through Click and Collect given a preferential rate. It’s worth knowing that rates are set according to a number of factors including local competition. As there are no direct competitors to ICE at Edinburgh airport, this may mean that the rates available there aren’t the best you’ll find.²

For a full breakdown of exchange rates and fees, you should check directly with ICE, but we have included a list of some of the fees that you will need to consider.

Description Fee
Orders equal to or above £700 Free
Orders between £300 and £699 £4.75 handling fee
Orders between £100 and £299 £7.45 handling fee
Orders equal to or below £99 £9.45 handling fee
Paying for transfer - bank transfer or debit card Free⁴ You may incur charges from your card issuer for using a debit card - this can be on average £4.50.⁵ If you are unsure, check with your card issuer.

For larger orders over £2,000 you’re likely to get a better rate - although you’ll need to visit your local branch, or call the customer service team to confirm the rates available in advance.³

Getting your travel money at the airport may seem like a convenient option, but you’ll often pay more, as the exchange rates applied may not be as good as market rates available elsewhere. A captive audience and lack of local competition in airports typically means that currency exchange costs are on the high side - although you’ll usually find a slightly better deal if you order currency online in advance. To save even more money, consider using a specialist service like Wise, to convert, hold and spend your foreign currency cheaply and conveniently, no matter where you’re headed.

Sources used:


All sources checked on 22-April 2019.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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