England is a popular tourist destination for many. However, before you plan for your trip, it’s important to take a step back and think of how you’ll into and around England. Afford yourself enough time to consider security, value, and convenience of the various options available. To give you a clear picture of the situation, here are some of your options along with their pros and cons.
Debit and Credit Cards
These are by far the cheapest and easiest option. They are also convenient. However, need to make sure you use them in the right way.
Most credit companies if not all, apply a wholesale exchange rate when processing payments. The rate fluctuates, but it’s always the commercial rate that banks and other large organisations enjoy. The rate offered is way better than the normal retail exchange rates consumers are offered of the counter.
The best thing about using credit and debit card companies is that they do not include additional fees on goods you buy. However, when you buy cash, you will be charged.
You’ll never incur additional charges when you always have sufficient spending money on your debit card or pay your credit card bills on time.
These cards are accepted almost everywhere. You can pay for just about anything with your debit card in England. Heck, people living in England have the option of paying their electricity bills and taxed with debit cards.
ATM machines are almost everywhere. They are found in bars, cinemas, gas stations and shops.
Some cards aren’t recognised in England. You might experience some problems using Discover, American Express, and Diners Club cards. You are better off sticking with the giants in the industry – MasterCharge and VISA.
Some sellers need you to meet a minimum purchase to use a credit card. This is especially true in small outlets.
If you are an iPhone enthusiast, you have the option of carrying cash in your phone and making payments in outlets that accept contactless payments. But unfortunately, not all businesses in England support this payment option. Luckily, there’s a site that lists the major businesses that accept it.
Believe it or not, a few decades ago travellers’ checks were the standards for tourists in England. And though they are still a viable and safe option, today, they are the most expensive and inconvenient option in England.
Secure – provided you have a record of all your check numbers and keep track of an emergency number to dial in England, you can replace stolen or lost checks fast without incurring extra costs.
These checks are available in several currencies, including Euros, pounds, and dollars.
These checks are super expensive in comparison to other options. For starters, you incur the cost of a cent of your check’s value every time you buy one. And if you make the purchase in a foreign currency, the retail exchange rate will apply to you.
The checks are inconvenient – in England, with the exception of some high end and expensive hotels, almost no restaurant, hotel or shop accepts them. And actually, very few, if any store in England still accepts checks.
Prepaid Currency Cards
These are cards that you load cash in your own currency or in England’s currency. Some of these cards can be loaded with several different currencies simultaneously. Often they are associated with large card companies including MasterCharge and VISA. They use chip and pin tech and can be used anywhere the VISA and MasterCharge cards are accepted
They help to control expenditure. You can only spend what you load it up with.
Security is guaranteed, provided your PIN number is safe.
The initial buying price is higher and the above average ATM fees can quickly add up to insane costs
Some can only be loaded in person at the offices of the business that sold it to you. And at times this is in your country and not England
Hidden charges will nibble away at the balance you leave for another trip. Before getting one of these, always read the fine print
Warning: you shouldn’t use these cards to guarantee rental car or hotel bills or even purchase petrol from the automated pumps. In these cases, anything between £200 and £300 is withheld as a guarantee that you’ll pay the bill. It can be frustrating since even if you don’t spend a lot of money, the funds may take about 30 days to be released. And in the meantime, you are left cashless for the remainder of the trip. Always use the credit cards for guarantees and clear your bills using prepaid cards.
The last best option is going with cash. You can use cash in your local currency to tip service providers and make some small purchases. The amount of money you’ll carry around will depend on your cash confidence and how much you spend.
A simple rule to follow is always carrying as much cash in sterling pounds as you might in your local currency.
But here’s the caveat with using cash. More and more businesses in England don’t accept cash payments and only allow cards. Though this is rare, you’d better be safe than sorry.
Take your time to weigh the options. Note that no option is absolutely foolproof or perfect. As such, you can consider having a combination of the above options.