I'm planning a trip to Japan and will need a fairly large amount of Yen banknotes to pay things like hotel bills, since Japan is a cash-heavy economy.

I have some US dollars sitting in an American bank account and I'd like to use these to buy the Yen I need. However I'm in the UK, and (as far as I know) all currency exchanges here only exchange to/from GBP.

The only options I can think of are:

  • Move the money to my UK account (in GBP) and buy the Yen cash in the UK. Doing two currency conversions is likely to be expensive though.

  • Use my US debit card to withdraw Yen from an ATM on arrival in Japan. My US bank charges 3% for foreign ATM withdrawals so this might be expensive too.

Is there a cheaper option?

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    To save others ones researching, I have looked up multi-currency account products from three challenger banks (which has a reasonable-sized presence in London), and they all charge at least 2% for ATM withdrawal of 200 pounds+. – B.Liu Jan 27 at 16:32
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    How comfortable are you to bring the equivalent amount of USD cash across Eurasia and exchange them in Japan for yen? – B.Liu Jan 27 at 16:32
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    There are some ATM which allow withdrawal in USD in London (for instance there is one in departures at the Eurostar terminal) so that might eliminate one of the two conversions. Of course that machine might charge a commission too, I have never used it. – mdewey Jan 27 at 16:58
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    Another option is using a multi-currency prepaid card that allows you to load in USD, convert to JPY, and withdraw from ATMs in Japan (slightly different from the accounts mentioned in the previous comment). Some charge ATM fee, some charge conversion fee, and so it require a bit of research - it might yield quite a bit of savings though. Will expand as answer if I got time later today. – B.Liu Jan 27 at 17:07
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    Most hotels in Japan accept credit cards. Unless you're far off the beaten path, you should not need to pay for your hotel with cash. If you really need cash just use an ATM at 7-11. That's surely going to be cheaper than two currency conversions in the UK. – Michael Hampton Jan 28 at 5:12

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