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I have GBPs left with me from my last travel to UK. Can I use it directly in Austria or is it advisable to convert all these GBPs to Euro before I travel to Austria? Or can GBPs be easily converted to Euros in Austria itself?

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    Just curious, why do you think a foreign currency would work "directly" in Austria?
    – BruceWayne
    May 7, 2018 at 19:30
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    @BruceWayne David's answer describes reasons why certain foreign currencies are commonly accepted in some areas. Granted, as David also noted, none of those apply to Austria with the GBP.
    – reirab
    May 7, 2018 at 21:54
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    @Fattie/BruceWayne The OP prefers to keep an air of mystery about him, however, taking a wild guess based on his username, I'd say he/she's not from Europe (India, perhaps?). From that range, Britain and Austria are next-door neighbours with practically identical cultures. It might well be that their currencies are interchangeable... Of course, from our zoomed-in perspective, they're not. May 8, 2018 at 6:22
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    @user29850 Yes, at touristy shops (especially in London) and some large department stores and similar where tourists might want to shop (ditto London), though you'll get a lousy exchange rate. Probably many shops close to the border with Ireland will take them. But there's a big difference here: the Eurozone is 340 million Euro-using people, some of whom are right on Britain's doorstep; all of the 65 million users of the British pound are some distance from Austria. May 8, 2018 at 10:09
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    @OscarBravo This argument doesn't hold water. It would not have crossed my mind for even one second that I could use Indian currency in Pakistan, for example – and, rather obviously, I can't.
    – N.I.
    May 8, 2018 at 10:41

4 Answers 4

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No, GBP can not be used directly in Austria. No store will accept them.

You won't have any serious trouble finding a currency exchange store to convert them to Euros though.

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    No store except some of the most touristy souvenir shops in the tourist hotspots. May 7, 2018 at 8:09
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    @RobertRiedl Offering zero commission and making up for it with insane bid-ask spreads is standard for currency exchanges these days... I would expect the exchange at the airport to offer a similar option. (The spread will be even worse at the airport, but as you pointed out, for small amounts it's more about convenience than price.)
    – Sneftel
    May 7, 2018 at 9:48
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    @Sneftel, compared to other banks I think it is the cheapest option, and you will not have a surcharge for only changing 5 GBP to EUR. Other banks will levy a minimum fee/commission. Unfortunately the exchanges places at the airport don't have only exchanges rates, but I doubt they are cheaper. That said, it is always good to compare and you might get a better deal at a bureau de change around the corner. However, this bank is actually somewhat of an insider tip for Vienna tourists, since it is centrally located and offers good rates and no extra fees. May 7, 2018 at 10:02
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    @RobertRiedl: Getting only 0.90405 euro for a pound is an extremely horrible deal. Even with Brexit looming, the pound is still worth more than one euro; one should be getting between 1.10 and 1.15 currently. May 7, 2018 at 14:35
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    for cash, get say 200 euros (or whatever you will need) from any cash machine (in Austria) just using your debit card. it's ridiculously cheaper than changing paper money.
    – Fattie
    May 7, 2018 at 19:43
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There are a number of reasons that a shop might choose to accept some currency.

  • Obviously, they'll accept the local currency.
  • If they're in an area where a relatively large fraction of shoppers are tourists from some particular place, they might accept that currency, too. Likewise, if they're very close to an international border, doubly so if, for example, tax regulations make it profitable for people to cross the border to buy alcohol, cigarettes or some other highly taxed product.
  • If they're in an area where the local currency and economy are unstable, they might accept some major world currency (typically the US dollar or maybe the Euro) because it's more reliable than their local currency.

None of these situations seem to apply to Austrian shops and British pounds. Obviously, it's not the local currency, there will be many more more visitors from neighbouring countries (which was kind of the point of the Euro in the first place!) than the UK, and the Euro is a perfectly stable currency to do business in.

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An enterprising individual will accept them, but I will rip you off on the exchange rate. Better off converting it elsewhere for cheap. I worked at a souvenir shop around Praterstern during my younger years and I did this numerous times.

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    Do it a couple of times in a week and I almost always doubled my wages.
    – user77481
    May 8, 2018 at 10:07
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    If you get enough (with a lousy for the pound user exchange rate) you can take them to a proper exchange office or a bank, or safe them up to use them in the UK at a later date.
    – Willeke
    May 8, 2018 at 15:20
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    @DavidRicherby - If the item costs €10 but, as the enterprising individual I accept £100 instead, I can then change that £100 into €, pay the €10 into the till and keep the remaining money myself. I think most tourists would be unlikely to do this, and you'd be seen as a bit of a scammer for doing so, but it works as an example for how it could have an impact (and maybe with a massaging of the figures it could actually be acceptable and profitable). May 8, 2018 at 15:35
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    @David Richerby I manipulated exchange rates in my favour. I sized up the customer according to his dress, hair, companion, tattoos/piercings, smartphone and his children. I then gave him a fair exchange rate. He was happy for the convenience of paying with dollars or pounds. Do this repeatedly and this microtransactions add up over a month. I might sound like a run of the mill scumbag but teenage me had to get that Golf MK4.
    – user77481
    May 8, 2018 at 15:45
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    @DavidRicherby - Neither of your points matter w.r.t my comment. I was offering it as an example because you said, and I quote "How would it have any impact?" This is an example of how it could have an impact. Don't get hung up on the numbers (although I thought you might get hung up on the numbers, which I didn't calculate to be plausible because it is an example not a business plan, hence I offered a little extra comment on needing to massage them to maybe make it work). May 8, 2018 at 16:51
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In Vienna you might find places to get your money exchanged (some places might try to rip you off, so better be a little bit careful)

Although if you only go to more rural areas in Austria, it could be quite difficult to get your money exchanged. As I grew up in a very rural Area in Austria, I can't recall ever seeing a place that would exchange money outside of the big cities (Vienna, Graz, Salzburg...).

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