Which credit card for London trip?
Paying by credit card is a safe and flexible way to pay all kinds of bills in London. Most retailers and restaurants in the English capital accept credit card payments even for minimal amounts of money.
Before choosing a credit card for your trip to London, make sure you understand the additional services and hidden fees.
Pay by credit card in London
Although London is part of the EU as the capital of Great Britain, sterling is used to pay for it in foreign currency. Exchanging large amounts of money in advance at the bank is associated with expensive fees, exchange offices on site sometimes demand outrageous commissions. In the UK, cashless payment is the most popular way to pay bills anyway. In the English metropolis, payments by credit card, especially Mastercard and Visa, are accepted almost everywhere. American Express is also welcome in many places.
The credit card is not only used most often in large shops, museums and sights, as well as restaurants and hotels, you can also use it to easily pay for small amounts in London. In the UK it is even commonplace to buy a packet of chewing gum in the supermarket, a ticket directly from the driver on the bus or a pint of beer by credit card in the quaint pub. Only in some independent shops, such as small cafes and sandwich shops or the typical British ” Cornershop ” in the outskirts, can it happen that amounts under five pounds can only be paid with an EC card or in cash.
Large clothing and catering chains as well as many renowned London department stores such as Harrods offer tourists to debit the amount due in USD when paying by credit card. Reject such offers politely from sellers or waiters and always ask that you be able to settle the bill in sterling. This way you can avoid an unpleasant surprise when you debit when a significantly higher amount is due. Although such companies state that they calculate the daily exchange rate for USD payments, this is set individually and is usually much higher. In the duty-free shops and restaurants at London’s airports, you should always insist on credit card payment in the local currency upon request.
The best credit card for the London trip
In the UK, paying by credit card often incurs additional costs due to the daily exchange rate as well as foreign currency charges. With your credit card, you can also easily withdraw cash from ATMs in London, but this is usually associated with expensive expenses that make up between one and three percent of the amount. It therefore pays to order a second card before you travel to London, which offers you favorable conditions for a stay abroad outside the dollarzone. Offers related to free account management and cash withdrawals abroad include:
If you are a customer of the Cream bank, you can also use your credit card to make free cash withdrawals at the ATMs of the London Citibank branches. Otherwise, you should only use your credit card in absolute emergencies to save yourself unnecessary costs. Instead, use your EC card, which is accepted at all ATM machines across London.
Attractive additional services
Before you order a second card for your vacation in London, you should compare the offers of the individual financial institutions, because these are often associated with interesting insurance options. For the Germanwings Goldcard, an annual fee of 49.99 USD will be charged from the second year, but you will receive a free foreign health, travel cancellation and rental car insurance. Free foreign health insurance is also included in the service package of the Barclaycard Gold Visa.
For Mastercard offers with travel cancellation insurance, it is advisable to find out exactly what the conditions are, because cancellation protection is often only given if the entire cost has been paid for with the credit card before the start of the trip. It is best to study the assessments made by Stiftung Warentest so that you do not experience a nasty surprise in the event of cancellation or have to pay a high deductible in the event of illness.
Using a credit card is by far the cheapest and most flexible way of payment in London. Nevertheless, it makes sense to carry a small amount of cash with you, in order to occasionally escape the hustle and bustle of the big city in a small cafe and to actually be able to pay for the drink consumed afterwards.