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Best Card for Buying Euros in UK

Best Place to Buy Euros in the UK: Insider Tips for Exchange, Fees & Ordering Euros Online in 2023

Jarrod Suda

Guide

Byron Mühlberg

Reviewer

Jun 20, 2023
Advertiser disclosure

Like the United Kingdom, the EU has transitioned to cashless payment systems. While you may need cash for small-town bus systems, corner stores, or tipping, most vendors of all kinds across all sectors in the Eurozone accept digital payment.

This is why our reviewers here at Monito will explain why going digital is the best way to buy euros in the UK before your holiday. You can say goodbye to traditional euro cash changers like the post office euro exchange, Tesco, M&S, and Sainsbury's, who advertise zero commissions but charge high hidden exchange rate margins.

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We think Starling Bank is the best way to buy Euros in the UK. As one of the best-known, licensed digital banks in the UK, Starling Bank offers multi-currency accounts in GBP and EUR, which are perfect for currency exchange, travel, or making international transfers. You can digitally access your euros and Pounds on your desktop or smartphone or with a physical debit card (with no foreign transaction fees when you're spending abroad)!

We will find that Starling Bank is not only one of the cheapest option to buy foreign currency, but also one of the most convenient ones. And if you still want to buy euros in cash before your flight, then we offer other euro exchange alternatives with euro rates that are superior to the high street.

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Heading to Europe soon? Don't forget to check the following list before you travel:

  • 💳 Eager to dodge high FX fees? See our picks for the best travel cards in 2023.
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  • Looking for flights? Compare on Skyscanner!
  • 💬 Want to learn the local language? Babbel and italki are two excellent apps to think about.
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How Do I Get the Best Euro Exchange Rate While On My Trip?

Jarrod Suda Eiffel Tower Paris France

Many British travellers enjoy holding cash euros in hand while in the United Kingdom prior to their flight to Europe. Whether you exchange your pounds for euros at a high-street bank, online money changer, or bureaux de change, these methods are actually neither the most cost-effective or most convenient ways to get euros.

Spend With Cards, Not Cash

Credit and debit cards that charge no foreign transaction fees are by far the cheapest ways to spend while you travel. This is because the exchange rate that MasterCard or Visa applies to your card purchases is negligibly small — about 0.2% weaker than the real mid-market exchange rate.

In contrast, if you had spent cash euros that were exchanged with the post office euro exchange rate or the euro exchange rate at Tesco, M&S, Travelex, or Sainsbury's, then you may have suffered from an exchange rate around 5% weaker than the real exchange rate.

Get Cash Euros From ATMs in Europe

By the same token, take out cash euros at ATMs with a card that waives foreign transaction fees if you need cash. The minor inconvenience of paying €2 to €5 in ATM withdrawal fees is better than getting hit with hidden fees from UK money changers.

Here are a few UK debit cards that will lower the costs when you need to take out cash with ATMs in Europe:

Starling Bank

Starling Bank's debit card is an excellent choice for a travel card, not only because card payments are widely accepted across the Eurozone. Starling Bank also waives all foreign ATM fees. You may still be charged by the local ATM provider, but at least Starling Bank will never hit you with its own fees for using ATMs abroad.

Moreover, you can open a Euro currency account for free and access your Euro balances from the debit card. Starling Bank never charges monthly fees or fixed fees for currency exchange. You will always get the real mid-market exchange rate applied to your transfers and will pay an excellent 0.4% markup (as of May 2023). Even better, you can receive Euros for free with this account too.

Monzo

Monzo's coral debit card charges zero foreign transaction fees. For international ATM withdrawals, Monzo gives you a free limit of £200 every 30 days but charges you 3.00% of the amount withdrawn afterwards.

What's the Best Card For Getting Euros in the UK?

Compare UK debit cards Starling Bank and Monzo, which have no foreign transaction fees, with multi-currency cards Wise and Revolut, which allow you to hold multiple foreign currencies on one debit card.

Starling Bank

Monzo

Wise

Revolut

Top-Up Fee

0

0

0.61

0

Exchange Rate Margin

0.004

0.0021

0

0.0006

Foreign Transaction Fee

0

0

0

0

Generic ATM Machine Fee

0

3

3

3

Card Provider ATM Fee

0

0

0

0

Total Euro Cash

€118.30

€115.30

€114.80

€115.45

Go to Starling BankGo to MonzoGo to WiseGo to Revolut

Starling Bank has no international transaction fees and no ATM fees
Monzo has no international transaction fees and charges 3% per ATM withdrawal after its €200 free allowance
Wise has no exchange rate margin but charges a 0.6% fixed fee per to-up. A 1.75% fee is applied outside of its €200 ATM limit.
Revolut has a 0.06% exchange rate margin but charges no fixed fee. A 2% fee is applied outside of its €200 ATM limit.
Rates recorded on 25 August 2022, CEST 13:30

Best Way to Get Euros in the UK Before Your Trip

Jarrod Suda View from the Sky Garden of London Bridge over Thames River in City of London, London, United Kingdom, UK

While travel debit cards that offer no foreign transaction fees are the most cost-effective way to spend abroad, Monito has found multi-currency cards to be far and away the best way actually to hold euros. Keep euros in your online multi-currency account and spend them in the Eurozone like any other local.

This can be done in the comfort of your home. Wise and Revolut are among the best in their industry and are both available to customers in the United Kingdom.

How the Revolut Multi-Currency Card Works

The Revolut Multi-Currency Card offers multi-currency debit cards to customers when they sign up. Your card should be shipped to you within 7 business days, so plan this ahead of your trip if possible:

  1. Link your UK bank account details to the multi-currency account;
  2. Top up Pound sterling into the account online or by mobile app;
  3. Convert your pounds into euros for an industry-low exchange rate margin;
  4. Pay zero fees per conversion (under the fair use limits);
  5. Use your card in the Eurozone with no foreign fees.

Avoiding Fees When Buying Euros in the UK

When you convert your pounds into a foreign currency, such as the euro, foreign exchange service providers will charge you two kinds of fees:

  1. Exchange Rate Margin: Providers apply an exchange rate that is poorer than the true "mid-market" exchange rate. They keep the difference, called an exchange rate margin.
  2. Commission Fee: This fee is usually a percentage of the amount converted, which is charged for the service provided.

Even if you have a travel credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees, Visa and Mastercard's exchange rate does not perfectly match the mid-market rate. Each time you spend money abroad, you will not be spending as efficiently as if you were holding actual euros.

We recommend using these cards at point of sale at restaurants and other purchases. If you really need cash, try to stay under their monthly free ATM withdrawal allowance.

Revolut

Revolut is an excellent choice for a multi-currency card because it also applies an industry-low euro exchange rate. However, it adds a markup on weekends. Commission-free conversions are limited to £1,000 for Standard and Plus plan customers. A 0.5% fee will be applied for the amount exceeding the limit. That allowance increases if you upgrade memberships.

Revolut allows you to withdraw up to €200 per month from ATMs without imposing their fees. After that, there will be a 2% fee per withdrawal.

Wise

Unlike banks, credit unions, airport kiosks, and foreign ATMs, Wise is transparent about never charging a hidden exchange rate margin when you convert your pounds into euros (and 51 other currencies). The live rate you see on Google or XE.com is the one you get with Wise. An industry-low commission fee will range from 0.35% to 2.85%. GBP to EUR transfers generally incur a 0.6% fee.

Wise allows you to withdraw €200 per month from ATMs. After that, they will charge 1.75% per cash withdrawal.

Best Euro Rate on the High Street?

As you might have guessed, there really is no "best" Euro rate on the high street once you've seen the world of better options. While getting euros in cash is cheapest if you use your debit card at an ATM in Europe or open a multi-currency account with Revolut, you have several options to get euros in the UK before your trip.

Jarrod Suda Positano, Italy at dusk

1. Money Transfer Services

If you prefer cash pickup and cash delivery, then have a look at Transfergo and Paysend. They both ranked as the top two cheapest options for GBP to EUR exchanges from August 2021 to August 2022, according to Monito's comparison engine.

Money transfer services often offer cash pick-up and cash delivery so that you can hold physical euros before your trip. They may charge commission fees and exchange rate margins when converting pounds to euros. However, these specialists will almost always be cheaper than converting currency at a high-street bank or an airport bureaux de change:

TransferGo

Small World

2. GBP-EUR Exchange Rate at the Post Office or a High-Street Bank

Despite commonly heard advice, the post office and the high street have become outdated money transfer providers. New companies are offering innovative ways to obtain foreign money cheaply and digitally.

We found that UK Post Office was converting £1 GBP into €1.139 EUR even though the mid-market exchange rate was at £1 GBP = €1.184 EUR*. That's 3.8% weaker than the mid-market.

*Exchange rates recorded on 25 August 2022 11:15 CEST.

3. Airport Bureaux de Change

Bureaux de change at airports in the United Kingdom is convenient for last-second exchanges before you head off on your travels. They charge huge exchange rate margins and hefty commission fees. We've seen margins exceeding 10%. Airport kiosks should be avoided at all costs.

If you need euros in cash for your travels, Monito recommends that you withdraw cash from an ATM in Europe with a card that charges zero foreign transaction fees. The exchange rate margins will almost certainly be smaller, and the cash withdrawal fee charged by the ATM should amount to a minor inconvenience of €2 to €5.

How To Order Euros Online for Delivery in the UK

The multi-currency account offered by Starling Bank remains the best way to convert your Pound sterling into euros and hold euros digitally for your travels.

However, foreign exchange services do run online platforms, which you may use to purchase Euros. Some offer travel cards while others offer cash pickup or delivery.

Jarrod Suda Platinum Jubilee at Buckingham Palace, London, England, UK in 2022

Money Changers: Tesco, M&S, Travelex, Sainsbury's, etc.

UK money changers often advertise their zero commission fees, which is a real plus. However, the exchange rate they use to buy your pounds and sell you euros will be weaker than the mid-market exchange rate.

While the Post Office's 3.8% margin is average, these companies may take more. Their rate schedules will fluctuate day by day.

You can usually order euros with money changers in one of three ways:

  1. Order euros in-store;
  2. Buy euros online and collect them the next day;
  3. Same-day collection.

One such brick-and-mortar provider is Travelex, a worldwide bureaux de change found in airports worldwide, which we have reviewed on Monito. The pound-to-euro exchange rate is usually better online, giving you more euros for your pound sterling. They have a travel card, which you can use to hold several currencies simultaneously.

Change Group

With Change Group, you can order euros online and pick them up at the airport, train station, or a Change Group branch just before you leave for Europe. A few pick-up locations include:

  • London centre (multiple locations),
  • Glasgow centre,
  • Oxford centre,
  • Luton Airport,
  • Gatwick Airport,
  • St. Pancras Station.

Although its exchange rates aren't quite as good as using a low-fee debit card like Starling Bank or Revolut, Change Group's GBP-EUR rate of around 2% to 3% is still a lot better than you'll get if you exchange your sterling for euros at the bank or at a touristy bureau de change in the middle or Paris or Prague. In short, if you're looking to buy a wad of physical euro banknotes, then there are few better options than Change Group!

How to Sell Your Leftover Euros

If you have leftover physical euros, you can always store them up for your next trip to Europe or you can sell them back to banks and money changers in the UK. However, the rate that these money changers will use to buy back your euros will be much weaker than the real mid-market exchange rate. And they don't always buy back loose change, such as if the amount is under €100.

Holding too many euros at the end of your trip often happens because you overestimate how much you need when you order cash online. If you use a foreign transaction fee-free card or a multi-currency card to make purchases instead, then you'll never have to worry about carrying idle change.

That's why in the few cases that you need cash for tipping or for bus rides, we recommend using travel debit cards that offer fee-free monthly allowances for ATM withdrawals. Take out €100 or €200 in cash at a time, but rely on digital card payments for the rest of your holiday.

If you do come home with leftover euros, Change Group, which we looked at above, also offers a buy-back guarantee, letting you sell your euros to them at decent (although not great) exchange rates.

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A great feature with multi-currency accounts like Starling Bank, Wise, and Revolut is that any leftover euros you have at the end of your trip can be converted online to any other currency you want at the real mid-market exchange rate, minus an industry-low fixed fee. That money will still be accessible from the very same card.

FAQ About Where to Buy Euros in the UK Online

References Used In This Guide

1. Cash Withdrawals. Starling Bank. Accessed 25 August 2022.
2. Wise Calculator. Wise. Accessed 22 June 2022.
3. Revolut Calculator. Revolut. Accessed 22 June 2022.
4. Visa Exchange Rate Calculator. Visa. Accessed 22 June 2022.
5. MasterCard Exchange Rate Calculator. MasterCard. Accessed 22 June 2022.

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