A practical foreign exchange and currency guide to the United Kingdom
What's in this United Kingdom currency guide:
The official currency of the United Kingdom is the Pound Sterling, with symbol £ and currency code GBP.
The British pound (ISO: GBP) is one base unit of sterling – that being the name of Britain's currency – and is subdivided into 100 pence.
Contributing to around 13% of all foreign exchange deals, the pound, or sterling, is the world’s fourth most traded currency.
Reputedly, sterling is 1200 years old. It is said that Anglo-Saxon traders used silver pennies in the eighth century called ‘sterlings’, 240 of which would equal one pound in weight.
Due to its membership of the European Union, Britain could have adopted the euro as its currency upon its introduction in 1999, however the British government opted against this because it wanted to retain monetary policy independence and because it perceived euro adoption as offering only small economic benefits.
In recent years, the most significant event to affect sterling’s valuation was the UK’s vote to leave the European Union on June 24th 2016 – a day on which the exchange rate for GBP/USD fell by as much as 11%.
In the past two decades, the pound’s highest valuation against the dollar occurred in November 2007 when GBP/USD reached 2.1161. Its lowest value came in October 2016, three-and-a-half months after the historic ‘Brexit’ vote, when GBP/USD reached 1.1905.
The British are more focussed on their currency exchange rate than are the citizens of most other countries, along with perhaps the Australians and Canadians. This is may be due to the open and trading nature of the UK economy and also due to their love of travel to the nearby 'continent' and further afield.
In mid May the GBP/USD exchange rate dropped below 1.22 after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates combined with the continuing impact of the Ukraine war on commodity prices.
The UK central bank raised rates by 25bps contrasting with the rate hike of 50bps by the US Federal Reserve. In conclusion, the BoE’s (UK bank) gloomy economic forecasts increased pressure on Sterling.
The pound hit a 3-Year LOW in mid May near 1.22 against the greenback (1 USD = 0.81 GBP) — on the bleak outlook for the UK economy and after the Federal Reserve started its long anticipated increase of interest rates.
Also hanging over the head of the pound is the thread of a EU-UK trade war over Brexit.
05 May 2022
18 Feb 2022
19 May 2021
20 May 2017
21 May 2012
24 May 2002
The below comparison table makes it easy to find the best exchange rates and lowest fees when you want to make a Transfer or Spend Pound Sterling.
England is still one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Be sure to get out of London as England’s smaller cities and beautiful country villages are fascinating and boast a robust culture. England is not known as a budget location and if you don’t keep an eye on your budget it can be expensive.
ATMs are everywhere and all major credit cards are accepted though you could purchase a Prepaid Travel Card if you prefer not to carry your credit card with you all the time while travelling.
In the United Kingdom, the National Rail service is known to always expensive, no matter how long your trip is. Depending how worried you are about your budget, by booking your ticket with the National Rail over a week in advance and during off peak hours, you can secure you tickets for for up to 50% less.
There are plenty of spots to visit in the UK. For major cities you have Manchester, Liverpool, Bath, Oxford and more. In Scotland you have the gorgeous Edinburgh and the more modern Glasgow, plus plenty of stunning countryside. In Northern Ireland there is Belfast plus the beautiful countryside and towns.
These days there are plenty of cheaps flights to get around in the United Kingdom with little effort and these are well worth taking advantage of, though you may like to take a ferry to get around between the islands. The ferries are usually pretty industrial and not overly romantic, but some might like to take a trip via water.
The United Kingdom does not use the euro as an official currency however you may find some shops in the cities and larger towns or airports that will accept the Euro but watch out for the EUR/GBP exchange rates they offer.