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Pre-ordering cash - Heathrow

"Roger"

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I realize that using the cash exchange booths at most international airports is a very bad deal (terrible exchange rate), but I noticed that on the Heathrow Airport page, they cite (link provided) a number of booths where, if you pre-order cash, you are charged no commission and rates competitive with the major banks. Is this a good deal or not? (Perhaps, I should ask is this at all competitive with other ways of getting cash in England. I am just looking for a good way to get some cash before I leave the airport.)
 

x3 skier

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I am just looking for a good way to get some cash before I leave the airport.)
The best I found is using an ATM with a Capital One Card or if your Credit Union is like mine, their card. If it is an account linked to your bank account (NOT a cash advance), they charge no fees and convert the currency at wholesale rates. I am not familiar with the Heathrow cash advance process but it sounds like a cash advance on your credit card which can get expensive.

Cheers
 

falmouth3

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I agree. Use your ATM card. Check with your bank or credit union to see what fees they may charge. When we were in Scotland last year, we used only banks that didn't charge a fee for ATM usage.

One thing you may also want to check is whether your access code will work on the other side of the pond. I understand that only a 4 digit code will work at my banks. And one other thing - if you have your code memorized by letters, you will need to remember the numbers because you won't find letters on the keypads there.

Sue
 
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Carolinian

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Also, be aware that at some airports, you may be hit with a significant fee from the owner of the ATM. This is also true at railway stations and highway rest stops. I don't know if this is the case at Heathrow, as it is my least favorite London airport, and if possible I fly into Gatwick, Luton, or Stansted instead.

Fortunately, the UK is one of the best countries in Europe as far as the ATM telling you if it has a fee or not. Many of them in the UK, especially those directly attached to banks, do not.

And when they say ''competitve with major banks'' that does not tell you a lot. ATM's give the interbank rate, which is the best, but many rates that the banks themselves charge are not so good. In eastern Europe, the rates of independent exchange houses almost always beat those charged by banks at their own exchange counters, and often by quite a bit.

Also, you can avoid the ''commissions'' - a ripoff extra charge in the exchange industry - by using an indepenent exchange counter outside London train stations (but avoid those inside the stations - bad rates plus commissions) or elsewhere in the city.
 
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IreneLF

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I obtained a debit card from Fidelity and used that to hit ATMS in UK and Paris. The rate given was better than the official rates posted by the banks, there was no charge for the withdrawals (Fidelity picks it up if there is one) - and the little account I set up to withdraw funds from earned interest -- a great deal all around.
 

Carolinian

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I obtained a debit card from Fidelity and used that to hit ATMS in UK and Paris. The rate given was better than the official rates posted by the banks, there was no charge for the withdrawals (Fidelity picks it up if there is one) - and the little account I set up to withdraw funds from earned interest -- a great deal all around.
The rates posted by the banks for their own exchange transactions are not ''official'' but merely the rates that banks chooses to offer. They charge more to sell and less to buy currency, making a profit. How much profit depends on competition and other factors. Some slam you with a second fee called a commission on top of the buy/sell differential. The best rate is the interbank mid-market rate, which is the rate generally charged by ATM's, but that may be compromised by fees charged by the owner of the ATM, which are never itemized on your statement but absorbed into the exchange rate, a non-transparent charge that ought to be prohibited. If an ATM owner is going to charge, the ATM should clearly tell you that and how much and it should be itemized on your statement. Sneaking it into the exchange rate is just dishonest. At least your own bank is now required to itemize its charges.
 
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