Credit cards, debit cards, and contactless payment types are widely used throughout Britain and are the easiest way to pay for things. Visa and Mastercard are the most common type of cards, while American Express and Diners Club cards are less commonly accepted. Another option is using a pre-paid travel money card such as a Cash Passport or TransferWise.
Some small shops, guesthouses, markets, cafés, and takeaways (to go) may not accept cards or may have a minimum spend (usually around £5), so always check in advance of your purchase. Cards that are accepted are often displayed in the windows so you can check before you enter.
You will probably also incur a currency exchange fee if you use an ATM to draw money out - just check with your bank for details.
Request chip credit and debit cards from your bank before arrival for easier transactions on the economy. Currently, there are 2 types of chip cards:
NOTE: The Chip and Signature card may not work in some places off base. One way around this could be to load your card on to your phone pay app and use that instead if you wish. Depending on your phone, this could work for Google Pay, Android Pay, or Apple Pay.
When deployed or on PCS Orders, Active Duty members may be eligible for reduced interest rates on credit cards. Contact your bank to ask about reduced rates.
When deployed or with a copy of OCONUS PCS Orders, some banks will eliminate the foreign currency transaction fee on credit and/or debit cards (usually 1-2% of purchase price). Contact your bank to learn more.
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