The unit of currency in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland is the British Pound Sterling. In Ireland and most of Continental Europe it is the Euro.
Rates of exchange can be found at: http://www.xe.com/
The rate that is published in the newspaper and on many internet sites (like the one above) is a wholesale “million dollar” rate unavailable to most consumers. It is more likely that your rate of exchange will be 3% to 8% poorer than these rates, in part depending on where you purchase your currency.
Although most credit cards can be used throughout Europe, Visa and MasterCard are more frequently accepted than American Express.
Important: Always call your credit card companies before departure and notify them of your destination(s) and dates of travel, so that your international charges are not rejected due to speculated fraud!
Upon arrival, we recommend that you use your ATM card to withdraw local currency; doing so will ensure that you will receive the best exchange rate possible. We recommend that you use one of the airport ATMs to withdraw cash upon arriving, although ATM machines are widely available throughout the UK and Ireland. In our experience, 90% of U.S. or Canadian ATM cards will work in Europe.
Credit cards can also be used to withdraw cash provided that you know your PIN. Withdrawing cash with a credit card is more expensive than using an ATM card since you will be charged interest on your withdrawal beginning on the day of withdrawal.
Should you intend to use an ATM or credit card to withdraw cash while abroad, notify your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling so that using the card does not prompt blockage due to suspicious activity. Be mindful of daily or weekly withdrawal limits as well as separate fees for withdrawals.
Avoid exchanging U.S. currency or travelers’ checks at manned airport kiosks which charge very high fees. It is best to exchange these at the post office or local bank. However, we discourage clients from taking travelers’ checks since many places no longer accept them.