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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.

Our picks for traveling to Scotland

American Express® Gold Card logo

Our pick for travel credit card

American Express® Gold Card

Finder rating: 4.6/5
Wise Multi-currency logo

Our pick for multi-currency debit card

Wise Multi-currency

Finder rating: 4.5/5
SoFi Money logo

Our pick for 0% transaction fee debit card

SoFi Money

Finder rating: 4.6/5

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.
  • Credit line access
  • Rewards
  • May come with travel insurance and coverage
  • May come with concierge service
  • 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.
  • No cash advance fee
  • No cash advance APR
  • No overdraft
  • 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.
  • Can load multiple currencies
  • No cash advance APR
  • No links to your bank account
  • 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.

  • Payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • No need for ATMs
  • 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.
  • Security
  • Not accepted everywhere
  • Fees for purchasing and cashing checks

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
The Platinum Card® from American Express
100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 in combined eligible purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 combined in the first 6 months, 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 5x points on directly-booked flights on up to $500,000 annually, then 1x points after that and on other eligible purchases

New Platinum Exclusive Offer

One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $7,000 based on Finder's valuation, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Terms apply, see rates & fees
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months
4x at restaurants including delivery and Uber Eats; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points), 3x points on directly-booked flights and 1x points on other eligible purchases

Rose Gold is Back

Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 based on our valuation with this upper-mid tier travel card. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months
2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, at gas stations and restaurants and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in the first 3 months.

Compare up to 4 providers

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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

= £ 0.7242

Refreshing in: 60s | Thu, Oct 21, 11:40AM 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 0.721 GBP 718 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 0.708 GBP 702 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 0.706 GBP 692 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

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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