Practical Life in Edinburgh

Bank services in Edinburgh

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Scottish currency is the Pound Sterling, commonly called the pound or the GBP. There are a 100 pence (p) to a pound. "Quid" is the slang term for pound.

Scotland's three national clearing banks, The Bank of Scotland, The Royal Bank of Scotland and The Clydesdale Bank, also issue their own sterling banknotes. These notes are very common in Scotland, but are occasionally not accepted in shops in England (although it is a statutory obligation and by law must be accepted everywhere in Great Britain!).

ATM and Credit Cards

ATMs are plentiful and can be found in the cities and the country. Sometimes called "cash points", you should be able to use Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Cirrus, Plus and Maestro cards. Cash withdrawals from some ATMs may be subject to a charge (about 1.50 GBP), depending on the vendor and your bank. However, cash is still king at small shops, pubs, and restaurants.

ATMs in Scotland usually dispense Scottish notes, but tellers will usually be able to procure Bank of England notes. You can also get Bank of England notes by withdrawing from a ATM run by an English bank.


Euros may be accepted at some High Street stores and tourist shops. The exchange offered is usually unfavorable. Note that the best rates are by taking money from an ATM. This depends on your home bank, but this continues to be the safest and cheapest way to exchange.

Moneychangers are frequently advertised at entrance points and in the downtown area. Sometimes called "bureaus de change", make sure you understand the rates before committing. Changers at international airports are usually the best deal.

Open an Account

Banking in the UK is usually easy to set-up. Most banks offer similar quality services and online banking is standard. However, do shop around to find the best fit for you with agreeable fees.

It can take time to establish yourself as a foreigner and receive a debit or credit card. Proof of employment offers greatest credibility, especially if you have a letter of recommendation from your employer. You will need to demonstrate proof you are a resident with an address. Proof includes: utility bills (gas, telephone, electricity) or a rental contract. A letter of recommendation from your current bank (in English) may also speed the process.

One of the easiest options is to open an account with a partner bank in your country.

    Most banks offer:
  • cheque book
  • debit card
  • cheque guarantee card

Banking in UK is usually fee-free. The above services should be offered without incurring any charges or fees. Credit cards may incur a monthly fee.

Cheques are still widely used. Some shops have a minimum purchase amount before they will accept cheques (usually around 5 GBP). Often used for payments by mail. Cheque usage is decreasing as direct debit or bank transfer are used.


Standard banking hours are Monday to Friday from 9:00 or 9:30 until 15:30 or 16:00 (some remain open until 17:30). Many bank offer one day a week that they stay open late. They may also be open on Saturdays (9:00-9:30 until 12:30 or 15:30). Some Banks may close for a one hour lunch break.

Update 8/04/2011


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