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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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