ATMs widely available; credit cards widely accepted, though not in all restaurants or B&Bs.
ATMs (called cashpoints in Scotland) are widespread and you'll usually find at least one in small towns and villages. You can use Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Cirrus, Plus and Maestro to withdraw cash from ATMs belonging to most banks and building societies in Scotland.
Cash withdrawals from some ATMs may be subject to a small charge, but most are free. If you're not from the UK, your home bank will likely charge you for withdrawing money overseas; it pays to be aware of how much, as it may be much better to withdraw larger amounts less often.
If there's no ATM, it's often possible to get 'cash back' at a hotel or shop in remote areas – ie make a payment by debit card and get some cash back (the cash amount is added to the transaction).
Credit and debit cards can be used almost everywhere except for some B&Bs that only accept cash. Make sure bars or restaurants will accept cards before you order, as some don’t. The most popular cards are Visa and MasterCard; American Express is only accepted by the major chains, and virtually no one will accept Diners or JCB. Chip-and-PIN is the norm for card transactions; only a few places will accept a signature. Contactless card payments (up to £30) are increasingly accepted.
- The British currency is the pound sterling (£), with 100 pence (p) to a pound. 'Quid' is the slang term for pound.
- Three Scottish banks issue their own banknotes, meaning there's quite a variety of different notes in circulation. They are legal currency in England, too, but you'll sometimes run into problems changing them. They are also harder to exchange once you get outside the UK.
- Euros are accepted in Scotland only at some major tourist attractions and a few upmarket hotels – it's always better to use sterling.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Be careful using bureaux de change; they may offer good exchange rates but frequently levy outrageous commissions and fees. The best-value places to change money in the UK tend to be travel agents. A handy tool for finding the best rates is the website http://travelmoney.moneysavingexpert.com/buy-back.
You'll normally find better rates in London than in Scotland, so do your changing there if you're visiting that city first.
Banks, post offices and some of the larger hotels will change cash and travellers cheques.
- Hotels One pound per bag is standard; gratuities for cleaning staff are completely at your discretion.
- Pubs Not expected unless table service is provided, then £1 for a round of drinks.
- Restaurants For decent service 10%; up to 15% at more expensive places. Check to see if service has been added to the bill already (most likely for large groups).
- Taxis Fares are generally rounded up to the nearest pound.