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Scotland currency travel guide

Use a card without foreign transaction fees and carry cash for incidentals.

As a part of the modernized United Kingdom, the Scottish take plastic for hotel stays, dining, supermarkets and gas. Still, some smaller establishments, like a family-owned B&B or restaurant, may take only cash. Since you might be wandering across the country to sight the monster in Loch Ness or tour the castles of Edinburgh and Glasgow, consider carrying a combination of pound sterling and plastic. A credit credit card makes a travel-friendly carry-along since most don’t charge foreign transaction fees when you swipe.

Our picks for traveling to Scotland

40+ currencies supported

Wise Multi-currency

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  • 4.85% APY on USD balances
  • $0 monthly fees
  • Up to $100 free ATMs withdrawals worldwide
  • Hold and convert 40+ currencies

Up to $300 cash bonus

SoFi Checking and Savings

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on SoFi's secure site
  • 0.50% APY on checking balance
  • Up to 4.60% APY on savings
  • $0 account or overdraft fees
  • Get a $300 bonus with direct deposits of $5,000 or more

Free ATM transactions

HSBC Premier Checking

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  • $50 waivable monthly fee
  • 0% foreign transaction fee
  • Securely move money domestically and globally
  • 5 monthly out-of-network ATM reimbursements
  • Free international HSBC ATM transactions

Travel card, debit card or credit card?

All major card networks are widely accepted in Scotland. Just make sure your card has no foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you could pay a fee of up to 3% of every purchase made abroad. Another way to save money is to avoid conversion fees by paying in local currency.

If you’re looking to make cash withdrawals, consider using a debit card to avoid cash advance APRs and fees. You could also try withdrawing money with a prepaid travel card, but only if it’s loaded with British pounds. Otherwise, you’ll pay a foreign transaction fee, which is higher than what debit cards incur.

Credit cards from such major networks as Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover are widely accepted in Scotland. They are best used for purchases where it’s possible to earn rewards, while debit cards are best used for ATM cash withdrawals. Prepaid travel cards can also work if you load them with British pounds.

But whichever card you choose, make sure it comes without foreign transaction fees.

If you’re still not certain which payment method will work best while traveling to Scotland, check out our travel money guide page.

These are your options for spending money in Scotland

Using a credit card

Using a credit card without foreign transaction fees in Scotland gives you the best exchange rates on all of your purchases, such as the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card (Terms apply, see rates & fees).

If you frequently travel to Scotland, consider an airline cobranded card. You can save money on flights, checked bags, lounge access and more. Alternatively, consider a travel credit card to get rewards on your travel purchases, travel insurance, luggage insurance, car rental insurance and more.

  • Tip: Avoid using a credit card for ATM cash withdrawals, as they come with cash advance fees and a cash advance APR.
  • Tip: Notify your bank you will be traveling to Scotland.
Pros
  • Credit line access
  • Rewards
  • May come with travel insurance and coverage
  • May come with concierge service
Cons
  • Cash advance fees on ATMs
  • Cash advance APR on ATMs

Compare travel credit cards

Explore top debit cards with no foreign transaction fees and travel credit cards by using the tabs to narrow down your options. Select Compare for up to four products to see their benefits side by side.

1 - 5 of 9
Name Product Fee Minimum deposit to open Annual Percentage Yield (APY) Offer
SoFi Checking and Savings
Finder Score: 4.5 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
SoFi Checking and Savings
$0 per month
$0
4.60% on balances of $0+
0.50% on balances of $0+
1.20% on balances of $0+
Get up to $300 cash bonus with qualifying direct deposit. Terms apply. This offer is available until December 31, 2024.
Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus
Finder Score: 4.3 / 5: ★★★★★
Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus
$0 per month
$0
N/A
Chime® Checking Account
Finder Score: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
Chime® Checking Account
$0 per month
$0
N/A
Refer a friend to Chime using your referral link, and if they complete a $200 direct deposit within 45 days of opening their new account, you both get $100.
HSBC Premier Checking
Finder Score: 3.5 / 5: ★★★★★
HSBC Premier Checking
$50 per month
(can be waived)
$0
0.01% on balances of $5+
Acorns Checking
Finder Score: 3.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Acorns Checking
From $3 per month
$0
N/A
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1 - 5 of 21
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
Up to 5x miles
$0
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. See rates & fees
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
Up to 5x miles
$95
Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months ​from account opening. See rates & fees
Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
Bilt does not have a welcome offer. However, they have a unique bonus offer of double points on the first of each month – that’s 6x points on dining, 4x points on travel, and 2x points on other purchases (except rent). Use the card 5 times each statement period to earn points.
Up to 3x points
$0
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
$200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Up to 1.5% cash back
$0
More than an unlimited 1.5% cash back card: you'll also earn 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply). See rates & fees
Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit
Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit
N/A
Up to 5x miles
$0
The same rewards and $0 annual fee as the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, but for those with good credit. See rates & fees
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Using a debit card

Debit cards can be a great option for cash withdrawals in Scotland. Some debit cards have no foreign transaction fees and no ATM withdrawal fees, such as the Betterment Checking, which reimburses you for these international fees.

  • Tip: Use a debit card for ATM withdrawals.
  • Tip: Notify your bank you will be traveling to Scotland.
Pros
  • No cash advance fee
  • No cash advance APR
  • No overdraft
Cons
  • Weak or no rewards
  • No access to a credit line
  • Potential foreign transaction fees up to 3%.
  • Potential ATM withdrawal fees

Using a prepaid travel card

Using a prepaid travel card is a particularly safe option as they are not linked to your bank account. However, travel cards come with many fees that make them an expensive alternative to credit and debit cards.

  • Tip: Use your travel card without incurring foreign transaction fees by loading it with British pounds.
Pros
  • Can load multiple currencies
  • No cash advance APR
  • No links to your bank account
Cons
  • Many fees
  • May take time to load
  • No rewards

Paying with cash in Scotland

Having cash in your wallet is always useful wherever you are. In Scotland, you’ll need cash to pay for taxis, incidentals, small purchases and tips. You can take US dollars with you and exchange them at the airport or make an ATM withdrawal.

Pros
  • Payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • No need for ATMs
Cons
  • High risk of theft

Using traveler’s checks

Traveler’s checks can be an expensive, inconvenient option. They incur a number of fees, including a foreign exchange fee, and many shops and hotels do not accept them. You’ll have to cash your checks in at exchange bureaus or banks, which will cost you time and more fees.

  • Tip: You may want to consider other money options in China.
Pros
  • Security
Cons
  • Not accepted everywhere
  • Fees for purchasing and cashing checks

What’s the Scottish currency and where can I get the best exchange rate?

Scotland uses the British pound with the symbol £ and the currency code GBP.

Banks typically have the best exchange rate for cash. You can also make an ATM cash withdrawal, which also comes with an excellent exchange rate. But make sure you use a debit card without foreign transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees.

Using money transfers to safely travel with cash

WorldRemit lets you send money to Scotland before you depart. Once you’re in Scotland, you can pick up your cash from a local WorldRemit agent.

But before you make the transfer, you’ll need to provide a Scottish address and a phone number. If you’re without one, WorldRemit recommends using the address of the place you’ll be staying at in case the local agent needs to contact someone.

5 pounds banknote10 pounds banknote20 pounds banknote50 pounds banknote

The main banks in Scotland are:

  • Bank of Scotland
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Clydesdale Bank
  • TSB Bank
  • Sainsbury’s Bank

Live Rate

= £ 0.7903

Refreshing in: 60s | Sun, Jun 23, 06:05PM GMT

ATMs in Scotland

You can readily find ATMs in Scotland, such as in banks like the Bank of Scotland and even in small convenience stores. You may be charged a small fee if the ATM is independently owned, a scenario that happens more often if located in small towns or small stores. If you go with a Betterment Checking account, using the debit card means that you can get reimbursed for these foreign ATM fees within 24 hours of submitting for reimbursement.

Case study: Roslyn’s experience

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Roslyn McKenna
Publisher

I visited Scotland with friends in October 2018. I used my Quicksilver card just about everywhere because it offers no foreign transaction fees and a flat cashback rate on everything. Credit cards are even accepted in rural areas like Inverness and Aberfeldy. I also brought some cash for small transactions and exchanged it at London Heathrow at a fair rate.

The only issue I encountered was the new scanning credit card machines. I’d researched to make sure I had the newer chip-and-PIN card when going to Japan, but I didn’t know Europe and the UK had already switched over to new scanning styles. There were several places my card wasn’t accepted, like at Tesco supermarkets, because it could only be inserted or swiped.

If you’re going abroad, I recommend bringing a solid cashback card that doesn’t charge for foreign transactions and uses the most up-to-date payment style.

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Written by

Kliment Dukovski

Kliment Dukovski was a personal finance writer at Finder, specializing in investments and cryptocurrency. He's written more than 700 articles to help readers compare the best trading platforms, understand complex investment terms and find the best credit cards for their needs. His expert commentary has been featured in such digital publications as Fox Business, MSN Money and MediaFeed. He’s also well-versed in money transfers, home loans and more — breaking down these topics into simple concepts anyone can understand. In another life, Kliment ghostwrote guides and articles on foreign exchange, stock market trading and cryptocurrencies. See full profile

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