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Travel money guide: Scotland

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

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As a part of the United Kingdom, Scotland is a safe place for all kinds of payment methods. You can use plastic for hotel stays, dining, supermarkets, gas and even for smaller establishments like local bars. Still, some places, like a family-owned B&B, may take only cash. To make sure you’re always covered, consider carrying a combination of cash and plastic.

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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 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.

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

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.

  • 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

Compare travel credit cards

1 - 3 of 22
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
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

2x miles on every purchase, every day, 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5x miles when you book on Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
$95
Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months ​from account opening.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
Earn unlimited 1.25x miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
$0
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months of account opening
2x miles on every purchase, every day, 10x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 10x miles when you book on Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023, 5x miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
$395
Capital One's premium luxury travel card, featuring airport lounge access at Capital One Lounge and 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges.
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What’s the Scottish currency and where can I get the best exchange rate?

Scotland uses the British pound with a symbol £ and a 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

= £ 0.8252

Refreshing in: 60s | Wed, Jun 29, 01:46PM GMT

ATMS in Scotland

Cash pickup services in Scotland

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 0.821 GBP 818 WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups. Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 8.00 0.807 GBP 800 MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Go to site Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 0.805 GBP 789 Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

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 have 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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