Money Matters


The British Pound Sterling (£) is divided into 100 pence (p). Pounds and pence are written in decimal form i.e. £5.25. When the pound symbol is used the penny sign is not used.


Notes are available in £5, £10, £20, £50, plus £1 and £100 in Scotland only.

Coins are available in 1p, 2p (bronze colour), 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p (silver colour) £1 (brass colour) and £2 (brass/silver colour).

The British will sometimes use the term 'quid' when referring to a pound. When counting small change the 'pence' part is sometimes shortened to 'p'.

Changing Foreign Currency

You will have no problems when changing major travellers cheques, but the charges can vary and it is worth shopping around.

Major British, European or US Banks and the Post Office offer the best foreign exchange rates. Money can also be changed at hotels and large stores, but the rate is not usually as good and care should be taken.

Credit Cards

The major international credit and charge cards are widely accepted for goods and services. Debit or Switch cards are also popular as an alternative to paying by cheque.

Many expatriates have experienced difficulties in obtaining a credit card in the UK. Almost all providers have a credit scoring system and newly arrived foreign nationals may find they do not score enough points.

Check with your employers or Interdean to see if they have special arrangements with any financial institutions.


The major high street banks are Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays and NatWest, all of which have branches throughout the country.

All the worlds major banks have branches or offices in the City of London, and some are represented in the major provincial cities such as Birmingham and Manchester. However, most expatriates find it easier to open an account with a British bank since many foreign banks provide only corporate services.

Banks require proof of identity and references before you can open an account, they are then able to establish a credit rating. You should ask your home country bank for a letter of reference before departure. Alternatively, your employers may help with an introduction. You should bring copies of your home country bank statements as this may also make things easier.

The bank will want to see a lease or proof of your address (for example, a council tax bill) in order to open a bank account.

Bank Accounts, ATMs and Chip and Pin

To open a bank account, you will need your passport, an employee reference from your company, and proof of your overseas address. Many of the banks now offer internet and telephone banking for convenience, and in recent years they have adjusted their opening hours to stay open later during the week, and some open Saturday mornings.

When you open a bank account you will be issued with a chip and pin debit card. This will normally be sent through the post and will be followed a couple of days later by a 4 digit PIN number to enable you to use the card. This card and PIN number will enable you to pay for goods in the vast majority of UK retail outlets, when paying for your goods you will be asked to insert your card into a chip reader and then enter your card PIN number.

This card doubles as an ATM (automated cash machine) card and you will be able to find many ATMs located at branches of banks, shopping centres, train and bus stations. Many machines will take a number of different bank cards, and the details of which, are normally shown on the machine. To use this service you will require your card PIN number.