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Britain’s currency is the pound (£) sterling. There are 100 pennies, or pence (p), to a pound.
Coins are issued in bronze denominations of 1p and 2p, and silver denominations of 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p. There is also a gold-coloured £1 coin, and a silver and gold £2 coin.
Paper notes come in denominations of £5, £10, £20 and £50.
Even though Britain has yet to join the single currency, it is still possible to spend euros in London.
Only the really big businesses will accept them, though – so don’t try them in a corner shop. The major chain stores – Body Shop, Debenhams, HMV, Marks & Spencers, Selfridges, Topshop, Virgin, WH Smith’s and Waterstones – should all be able to help.
Cash machines are available throughout London, but may charge a small amount for withdrawals (typically £1.50–£2.00) – look out for the notices on the facade or front screen.
The following credit cards are all widely accepted in London: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club.
If you have lost your credit card then try phoning one of the following numbers:
American Express: call 0127 369 6933
Diners Club: call 0125 251 3500
JCB: call 0207 499 3000
Mastercard / Eurocard: call 0800 964 767
Visa / Connect: call 0800 895 082
Here are London’s four major banks, with their head office address and telephone number.
Barclays: 54 Lombard Street. Tel: 0207 699 5000
Lloyds: 25 Gresham Street. Tel: 0207 626 1500
Natwest: 133 Bishopsgate. Tel: 0870 240 1155
HSBC: 8 Canada Square. Tel: 0207 991 8888
Foreign currency can be exchanged and transferred at banks, post offices and the numerous money-changing outlets in tourist areas and train stations.
Most post offices offer a commission-free money exchange service, and banks tend not to charge commission on sterling traveller’s checks associated with the business.
The following hours are a rough guide, and vary from business to business.
Banks: 9 AM–5 PM (Mon–Fri); 10 AM–1 PM (Sat)
Post Offices: 9 AM–5.30 PM (Mon–Fri), and 9 AM–noon (Sat)
Money-changing outlets: 8 AM–10 PM (Mon–Sun)
The following chart shows the approximate exchange rate between the major foreign currencies and sterling. If you need an exact figure, try visiting xe.com.
|Currency||Approximate exchange rate|
|Australia - Dollar||$1 = £0.42||£1 = $2.40|
|Canada - Dollar||$1 = £0.46||£1 = $2.17|
|China - Yuan||¥1 = £0.07||£1 = ¥14.4|
|Europe - Euro||€1 = £0.68||£1 = €1.46|
|India - Rupee||1Rp > £0.01||£1 = 81Rp|
|Japan - Yen||¥1 > £0.01||£1 = ¥207|
|New Zealand - Dollar||$1 = £0.39||£1 = $2.56|
|Switzerland - Franc||1Fr = £0.44||£1 = 2.27Fr|
|USA - Dollar||$1 = £0.56||£1 = $1.60|
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