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I will be travelling around Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, UK and Ireland) in July. Of all the countries that we are visiting, the UK is the only one not to use the euro currency. I will be changing USD to EUR and would like to avoid changing too much money into GBP that I won't use afterwards. So basically my question is if I can use Euros in shops, hotels, taxis, restaurants etc. and leave the rest of the sterling cash for small payments.

thanks!

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  • The standard advice, particularly when you are visiting a country that is home to one of the major international currencies (CHF, EUR, GBP, JPY, USD, etc.), is not to change your money, but to use ATM/debit cards tied to a fee-free bank account. That makes it much easier to avoid ending your trip with too much local currency, besides being safer in terms of cash being lost or stolen. See e.g. When traveling to a country with a different currency, how should you take your money?
    – choster
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 20:33
  • @choster there is no such thing as a fee-free account; if you don't pay a flat fee you will still pay the spread and sometimes a flat fee is better than the spread offered. The advice should be to compare costs.
    – MD-Tech
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 16:56

2 Answers 2

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No. Euros are not commonly accepted in the UK, especially for large payments. Some tourist oriented places might accept Euros - those that do are just as likely to accept US dollars. Hotels are likely to have a change facility, but a busy tourist attraction is not going to want to take the time to convert your foreign currency to pounds.

Credit cards are widely accepted, provided you have a chip and PIN card (which you are probably going to need in Europe anyway). A credit card will be much more useful than Euros.

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    It doesn't have to be a chip&PIN credit card. The merchant's card terminal will determine whether the transaction gets authorized by chip&PIN, chip&signature, or magstripe&signature. The older technologies are still supported if your credit provider has not implemented newer tech yet.
    – CactusCake
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 19:23
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Update as of 2024:

The UK is becoming more and more cashless. Travelling without a contactless payment option (card or mobile phone) is extremely inconvenient. Many things can only be paid for using contactless payments (train tickets, parking fees, etc.) and not in cash.

Apart from banks and exchange offices, USD and EUR are possibly accepted at some tourist traps in London (like taking a picture with a royal family lookalike). Additionally, euros (but not dollars) are accepted in shops and restaurants on ferries to and from Ireland and mainland Europe.

To be on the safe side, withdraw a small amount of GBP from an ATM when you arrive and then pay for everything using your card or phone.

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    +1. As a UK resident, I think the only times I've used cash in the last year are the £1 deposit to get a trolley at the supermarket, and the local Indian takeaway which is still cash-only.
    – avid
    Commented Mar 18 at 10:06

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