Before You Travel | Money | Getting to Scotland | Arriving in Scotland | Where To Stay | Getting Around | Keeping in Touch | Food & Drink in Scotland | Shopping in Scotland | Entertainment & Nightlife in Scotland | Holidays & Events | Special Interest Travel | Tours | Munros Climbing Guide
The British currency is the pound sterling (£), divided into 100 pence (p). Coins come in denominations of 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. Although not legal tender in Scotland, Bank of England banknotes are accepted as legal currency, in addition to those issued by the Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank. These Scottish banknotes (bills) come in denominations of £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100 and are legal currency in the rest of Britain, although some shopkeepers south of the border may be reluctant to accept them.
Euros: Some retail outlets and visitor attractions will accept euros; check with the Scottish Tourist Board for latest news.
Most towns and villages in Scotland have a branch of at least one of the big four High Street banks - Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and TSB Scotland. In small and remote places, and on some islands, there may only be a mobile bank which runs to a set timetable. This timetable will be available from the local post office. Bank opening hours are Monday-Friday from 0930 to between 1600 and 1700. Some larger branches may also be open later on Thursdays and on Saturday mornings. Banks are usually the best places to change money and cheques. Outside banking hours you'll have to use bureau de change, which can be found in most city centres and also at the main airports and train stations. Note that some bureaux charge high commissions for changing cheques. Those at international airports, however, often charge less than banks and will change pound sterling cheques for free. Avoid changing money or cheques in hotels, as the rates are usually very poor.
Credit cards and ATMs
Most hotels, shops and restaurants in Scotland accept the major credit cards (Access/MasterCard,Visa and Amex, though some places may charge for using them. They may be less useful in more remote rural areas and smaller establishments such as B&Bs which will often only accept cash. You can withdraw cash from selected banks and ATMs (or cashpoints as they are called in Britain) with your cash card. Your bank or credit card company will give you a list of locations where you can use your card.
Visa card holders can use the Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and TSB ATMs; Access/MasterCard holders can use the Royal Bank and Clydesdale; Amex card holders can use the Bank of Scotland.
If you have an account with a High Street bank in England or Wales, you can use your cashpoint card in Scotland. Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank take Lloyds and Barclays cash cards; Clydesdale takes HSBC/Midland and National Westminster cards. Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and most building society cashpoints are part of the Link network and accept all affiliated cards.
The safest way to carry money is in travellers' cheques. These are available for a small commission from all major banks. American Express (Amex), Visa and Thomas Cook cheques are widely accepted and are the most commonly issued by banks. You'll normally have to pay commission again when you cash each cheque. This will usually be one percent, or a flat rate. No commission is payable on Amex cheques cashed at Amex offices. Make sure to keep a record of the cheque numbers and the cheques you've cashed separate from the cheques themselves, so that you can get a full refund of all uncashed cheques should you lose them. It's best to bring sterling cheques to avoid changing currencies twice. Also note that in Britain travellers' cheques are rarely accepted outside banks, so you'll need to cash them in advance and keep a good supply of ready cash.
If you need money urgently, the quickest way to have it sent to you is to have it wired to the nearest bank via Western Union (Tel 0800-833833) or Moneygram (Tel 0800-894887). Charges are on a sliding scale; ie it will cost proportionately less to wire out more money. Money can also be wired by Thomas Cook or American Express, though this may take a day or two, or transferred via a bank draft, but this can take up to a week.
Cost of living/travelling
Scotland can be an expensive place to visit, though there is plenty of budget accommodation available and backpackers will be able to keep their costs down. Edinburgh is the most expensive city, and prices are also higher in more remote parts of the Highlands and Islands. Petrol in particular is very expensive in the Highlands and Islands, where it can cost up to 10p per litre more than in the central Lowlands. Accommodation and restaurant prices also tend to be higher in more popular destinations and during the busy summer months. The minimum daily budget required, if you're staying in hostels or cheap B&Bs, cycling or hitching, and cooking your own meals, will be around £25 per person per day. If you start using public transport and eating out occasionally that will rise to around £30-40. Those staying in slightly more upmarket B&Bs or guesthouses, eating out every evening at pubs or modest restaurants and visiting tourist attractions, such as castles or museums, can expect to pay around £40-50 per day. If you also want to hire a car and use ferries to visit the islands, and eat well, then costs will rise considerably and you'll be looking at at least £75 per person per day. Single travellers will have to pay more than half the cost of a double room in most places, and should budget on spending around 60% of what a couple would spend.