6

I know this question said about London which where I live right now, but I think it's applied everywhere.

I have almost 900 Euros left which I want to change back to pound sterling. So, I googled a little bit and I found this website http://travelmoney.moneysavingexpert.com/buy-back/

which will tell me where can I get the most out of my money. But is the top one legit? The difference I found is almost 50 pounds compared to local bank (Natwest). But the top one I have to order online which I haven't used it before. So I would like to learn from other people. How do you guys exchange money in London to get most out of it?

  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about Monry and it belongs to Money.SE – Nean Der Thal Jan 5 '14 at 16:21
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    What if he were from the European mainland and travelled to the UK? – Bernhard Jan 5 '14 at 20:04
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    We already have a tonne of questions around exchanging money when travelling, some of which seem at least close, can you clarify why none of the existing ones covers your case? – Gagravarr Jan 5 '14 at 22:09
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    There is always a queue outside the Liverpool Street offices of these guys bestforeignexchange.com which is a good sign. – TheMathemagician Jan 7 '14 at 14:57
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    Looking at your linked website, Covent Garden FX appears in the top four with a very competitive rate and no need to order online. If you have concerns over ordering online, you could just show up at that one as per a normal currency exchange. – dlanod Jan 8 '14 at 3:38
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The best strategy is to go as far away as possible from tourist areas to exchange money. Currency Exchange at the airport is generally the worst, followed money changers in tourist areas. Then start to look at money changers in London's financial district, ie the City. Generally, they will be competing with other money changers and making their money on volume.

Also, people in the City will know what the rate should be. You are also very unlikely to be ripped off. The City is also safer if you are carrying large amounts of cash. (Not applicable to you, but in general it's good to know).

The really good deals are via Corporate money changing but you are unlikely to be able to setup an account unless you have a business.

Look around at lunch time and see which money changers have a queue. These are the ones to go to. I tend to use www.cityforex.co.uk for this reason.

In general, this guide can be used for other countries / cities.

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Unless you're changing a huge amount and/or your time is worthless, just pop to the nearest non-touristy high street and compare the rates at the banks, the Post Office, travel agents, and maybe Sainsburys or Marks and Spencers (or a selection thereof). If its a very small amount just find the nearest reputable branch of one of these and be done with it.

If you want to find the absolute best rate then by all means use MoneySavingExpert which is a well known and well regarded site in the UK, but bear in mind that some of the offers listed will have to be done by post or are companies without many branches. The site's general advice is good, however - specifically, avoid changing money at airports whenever possible!

Another option is to hold on to your spare currency and change it at home where you know the system better or change it at your next destination.

Finally, try not to accumulate too much cash in the first place. I travel with foreign currency cards and do as much of my spending on the cards as possible. In the UK its possible to do the vast majority of spending on a card.

IMPORTANT NOTE: MoneySavingExpert do not offer the services listed, they merely provide you with market information. Note their disclaimers: "If these companies go bust and have your money, there's no protection. Don't let it have your cash any longer than needed. Inclusion here does not imply solvency."

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    As @stephenkenedy said. It is worth mentioning that the MSE website is well respected in UK and try very hard only to recommend reliable and good deals. They research well, and remove links and companies if they are not in the customers best interest – Martin Jevon Jun 7 '15 at 1:57
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I have found that the airport exchanges are the WORST to go to, so avoid those.

Local banks are hit or miss. Some have good exchange rates, others not so much. I guess just do your research on what a "good" rate is and then see how the bank(s) compare.

London has many "money exchanges" set up in touristy areas. Like banks, these are also hit or miss. Some have good deals, others do not. Again, just knew beforehand what the rate SHOULD be and you can identify whether it's worth exchanging or not.

Some hotels will also exchange currency.

In my travels to Africa (specifically Mali and Gabon), I found that the best exchange rates I got were at local restaurants. Not all of them exchanged money, obviously, but I found a few who did and they gave me much better rates than the banks did. For example, the "official" exchange rate was around $1 USD = 480 CFA but I was able to get $1 USD = 500 CFA at some places since it was just easier for them to give me 10,000 CFA, rather than 9,600 CFA, in exchange for $20. This may or may not be possible to do somewhere like London, and these kind of places likely will not exchange large amounts of money either. (In my case, the most I ever exchanged at one time at a restaurant was $60).

However, if dealing with a non-official exchange (official being a bank, at the airport, etc.) then be careful and make sure you are actually getting "real" money instead of counterfeit.

Alternatively, if you think you might go back to a Euro country within a year or so, you might just want to save it. You generally lose a little during each transaction, so it might be better to just set it aside for your next trip instead of exchange it to Pounds and then exchange it back to Euros again.

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    Your Gabon trick won't get you very far in London. – Stephen Kennedy Oct 21 '14 at 14:34
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Here in Switzerland a lot of banks accept EUR as deposit as well. If that is the case in the UK, you can go to any bank office with a deposit machine, and then deposit your euros back to your account, probably at the exchange rate your bank offers, showing up as GBP on your balance sheet.

This will not only convert your money back to your usual currency, but also puts it in your bank directly, thus preventing you from having a large amount of cash for prolonged periods of time.

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    Welcome to the site! Since the question is explicitly about the UK, I'm not sure this answer is very helpful, since you're just guessing that British banks might accept Euros for deposit. Having lived in the UK for most of my life, I've never actually tried to deposit Euros, but my feeling is that you generally can't: you'd have to exchange the Euros for Sterling and the bank teller would give you the option of either receiving the cash or having the money deposited directly. – David Richerby Jan 28 at 13:29
  • @DavidRicherby so going to the teller would be about what my answer says, besides using a person instead of a machine? You'd need to go to the bank office anyway; deposit machines are usually only there. – Adriaan Jan 28 at 13:30
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    So all you're saying is "Change your money at a bank." The asker already knows they can change money at banks. – David Richerby Jan 28 at 13:33

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