Best places to buy US Dollars in the UK in 2024

If you have an overseas trip or vacation coming up, planning your travel money in advance can save you time and money. This guide walks through the best available options to buy US Dollars in the United Kingdom, whether you want cash in your wallet before you leave, or prefer to spend with a card.

We’ll look at how to pick the right method for you, what it might cost, and how to get the best available US Dollar exchange rate.

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Find the cheapest ways to get US Dollar

Amount:
£
Wise Travel Card
Wise Travel Card
Exchange rate1.2904
£1,000 GBP gets you$1,285.85 USD

Order your Wise card for 7 GBP*, have it delivered to your door in just 2 - 6 business days. Enjoy mid-market rates and low transparent fees for spending in 150+ countries worldwide.

Travelex Travel Money
Travelex Travel Money
Exchange rate1.2617
£1,000 GBP gets you$1,261.70 USD

Buy a broad range of currencies online, which could arrive as soon as the day after order.

Barclays Travel Money
Barclays Travel Money
Exchange rate1.2300
£1,000 GBP gets you$1,230.00 USD

Order currencies online or by phone, for collection in the branch in a day or two.

Banks & Currency Exchanges
Banks & Currency Exchanges
Exchange rate5.6% margin*
£1,000 GBP gets youask in store

Some highstreet banks can provide travel money services to customers who have a current account or credit card with them. You'll usually find you need to order your foreign currency in advance to collect later at a branch.

We do not compare all available providers in the market. Our results are sorted by default from the lowest GBP cost to you to the highest GBP cost to you and you may choose to sort results according to other criteria. We may receive a referral fee if you choose one of these providers, but that won’t affect the ranking of the provider, the exchange rates or any fees you are charged.

*Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for most up to date information.

**Average margin versus the mid-market exchange rate of 129 individual quotes from 9 travel money providers, collected on 30/05/2024.

Best ways to buy US Dollars

  • WiseWiseSpend and withdraw cash in 150+ countries with the mid-market exchange rate and low fees
  • Travelex GBTravelex GBOrder your travel money online for home delivery - next day delivery available for orders placed online by 3pm
  • BarclaysBarclaysBarclays debit or credit card holders can buy a selection of currencies for collection at a branch in a day or two
  • Banks & Currency ExchangesBanks & Currency ExchangesSome major UK banks offer currency exchange for their customers in a broad range of currencies, but might need to order in advance

Where to exchange GBP to USD

You’ve got a few different options if you need to buy USD in the United Kingdom. Depending on what’s most convenient for you, you may choose to order online for delivery, or to pick-up in person at a branch. You may be able to buy your travel money from a bank, or from a currency exchange office or at the airport. For convenient travel without needing to carry a lot of cash with you, you could also get your USD travel card before you leave, to spend and withdraw when you’re away.

Get a US Dollar travel money card

Buy a travel money card from a provider like Wise, top up in Pound Sterlings, spend and make withdrawals conveniently on your trip. Your Wise card has a one time 7 GBP fee, and can be used with mid-market rates and low, transparent fees, in 150+ countries.

  • Secure way to manage your money abroad
  • Use ATMs to get cash little and often
  • Top up and manage your account and card with just your phone

Order US Dollars online for delivery

Order your travel money online with a service like Travelex and get it delivered to your home conveniently as soon as the next day. 45+ currencies are available from Travelex, covering common destinations. Currency conversion and delivery fees apply.

  • Get your foreign cash without leaving home
  • Online orders have preferential rates
  • Have US Dollars in your pocket before your trip

Buy US Dollars to collect in person

Get your travel money by ordering in advance for collection in person at a bank like Barclays. Your money may be ready the next day or within 2 days depending on when you order. You must also hold a Barclays credit or debit card, to access this service.

  • Some banks allow account holders to buy foreign currency
  • Major banks can order most currencies for their customers
  • Avoid delivery fees

How to get US Dollars in the UK

You’ve got lots of choices if you need to buy US Dollars before leaving the United Kingdom. Shopping around can mean you get the very best available deal for your specific needs and preferences - this guide is here to help.

Use our comparison table to find the best solution to get USD in the UK:

  1. Enter the amount you need into the comparison tool
  2. Review the available rates and fees
  3. Decide between getting a travel card, ordering online, or buying in person
  4. Choose a provider based on the available options and deals
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Safe and convenient way to spend and withdraw money abroad

Get a US Dollar travel money card

You can order a travel money card like Wise or Revolut in the UK, add money in GBP and use your balance to purchase US Dollars within your multi-currency account.

You’ll then be free to spend your US Dollars when you have enough balance with no extra fees once you arrive at your destination - you can also make ATM withdrawals whenever you need some cash. If you have travel money left after your vacation you can convert back to GBP instantly for use at home - or just leave your balance ready for your next trip.

  • Secure, cheap, and easy to use
  • Exchange instantly or let your card do it when you pay
  • Use a digital card even before your physical card arrives

Travel money cards like the Wise card and Revolut card offer great rates, cheap fees, and flexibility to manage your money with your phone.

ProviderFees for spendingATM cash withdrawalsExchange ratesDeliveryLearn more
Wise card

No fee to spend a currency you hold enough balance

2 withdrawals to 200 GBP/month free, then 0.5 GBP + 1.75%

Mid-market rate


Currency conversion from 0.35%

2 - 6 days 


Virtual card available instantly 

Go to site
Revolut cardNo fee to spend a currency you hold enough balance inSome no fee withdrawals to plan limits

Some no fee weekday conversion to plan limits


Fair usage fees apply after that

Delivery date specified when you order your card


Virtual card available instantly 

Go to site

How to buy US Dollars with a travel money card

  1. Register an account with a provider like Wise
  2. Get verified and order your card
  3. Your physical card will be delivered by mail in 2-6 business days
  4. Top up your card online, for free
  5. Buy USD in your account or let your card auto-convert with the mid-market rate
Go to Wise

Order foreign currency cash and have it delivered to your door

Order US Dollars online for delivery

Some providers allow you to order US Dollars online and have your cash delivered to your door. This can be a convenient service as long as someone will be available to sign for your delivery. It also removes the risk that you show up at an exchange office only to discover that the currency you need isn’t available. Providers offer a broad range of currencies for delivery, with varying fees and exchange rates.

  • No need to visit a physical store to get your travel money
  • Providers stock a broad range of currencies
  • Some services can get your money to you in just a day or two
ProviderFeesExchange ratesDeliveryLearn more
TravelexVaried fees - costs may be better online compared to on the spotExchange rates may include a markup0 GBP - 7.49 GBP delivery depending on order value
Go to site

How to order US Dollars online for delivery

1. Open the website and select the option to buy for delivery

2. Enter the amount or value of US Dollars you want to buy

3. Pay using a card or select and alternative like bank transfer

4. Enter your shipping address to get a delivery quote

5. Someone must be present to sign for the delivery when it arrives

Order US Dollars ahead and collect in branch

Buy US Dollars at the bank

Some banks allow you to exchange money in a branch location. The processes and eligibility rules here do vary quite a lot. In some cases you’ll need to already hold an account or credit card with the bank you pick, for example. Plus you’ll usually need to order your travel money in advance as banks don’t tend to hold a high level of stock of foreign currencies. Some banks support buy back services so you can sell your unused travel money back - but you might get a different exchange rate for this, which means you could get back less than you spent in the first place.

  • Where banks offer travel money services they cover most global currencies
  • You’ll often be able to order online for branch collection
  • Buy back services may be available for leftover travel money
ProviderFeesExchange ratesLocationsLearn more
BarclaysVarying fees depending on the service requiredExchange rates may include a markupMajor branches of Barclays - call ahead to check availability
Go to site

How to buy US Dollars in bank

  1. Call your bank, order online, or pop into a branch in person
  2. Tell them the amount of foreign currency you need to buy
  3. Pay using a credit or debit card issued by your bank
  4. You’ll be told when your money can be collected
  5. Go to your preferred branch to collect your US Dollars in person

Pay in cash and collect your US Dollars instantly

Foreign currency exchange offices

Another option is to buy your US Dollars in person at an exchange office. To do this all you’ll need to do is pick the exchange office that’s most convenient to you, and head in with some cash in Pound Sterlings. Some exchange offices also accept card payments. Currency exchange offices set their own exchange rates and fees, so shopping around is essential - but this method does have the advantage that it’s usually instant to get the travel money you need.

  • Exchange rates are likely to include a markup - a fee
  • Not all currencies are stocked by all exchange services
  • You may lose out when you sell back unused travel money

Purchase US Dollars on arrival, higher fees might apply

Buy US Dollars at the airport

If you’ve left your planning a little late you still have the option to buy US Dollars at the airport in many cases. Most major airports have one or more currency exchange desks catering to travelers - bear in mind though that you won’t have a huge range of choice here which can mean that the fees are higher than in a city center location.

  • Exchange rates usually include a markup - which can be high
  • Not all airports have currency exchange services available
  • Little competition can mean the prices overall are pretty steep

How to buy Australian Dollars at the airport

  1. Go to the airport exchange desk on arrival

  2. Confirm how much you want to exchange

  3. Pay with your preferred method - usually card or cash

  4. Get your travel money instantly

How to get the best GBP to USD exchange rate

There’s no single best provider when it comes to exchange rates. Different services set their own rates which may vary based on the currency, the amount you want to exchange, how you want to pay, and whether you’re exchanging money in a digital account or for physical cash.

To compare your options it helps to understand a bit about the mid-market exchange rate. That’s the rate you’ll see for GBP to USD exchange if you use an online currency converter tool or a Google search. The mid-market rate is commonly used as a benchmark as it’s the one quoted on wholesale markets. However, banks and exchange services don’t usually pass this rate on directly. Instead they add an extra fee to the rate offered to retail customers - known as a markup.

This means that looking for a service which has transparent exchange rates which are the same as - or close to - the mid-market exchange rates is a good idea. You can compare a few live exchange rates for popular providers using the Exiap tools, to find the best US Dollar exchange rate based on the specific transaction you want to make.

Here’s what to do to find the best GBP to USD exchange rate:

  1. Enter the amount you need into the comparison tool
  2. Review the options available, looking at the exchange rate for Pound Sterlings to US Dollars in particular
  3. Decide between getting a travel card, ordering online, or in person
  4. Choose a provider based on the available options and deals
ProviderExchange rateLearn more
Wise1.2904 Mid-market rate 0%Go to site
Barclays1.2300 🔻 - 4.69%Go to site
Travelex GB1.2617 🔻 - 2.24%Go to site

How to find the best US Dollar exchange rate on the high street

Here are some tips for getting the best rate in your high-street currency exchanges.

  • Shop around for the best deal. High streets usually have multiple currency exchanges, ranging from independent bureaus du change to huge supermarkets and travel agents.

  • Play off travel money providers against each other. Get a quote from at least two exchanges. Show the best quote to the provider with the second best quote and ask them if they can do a better rate.

  • Pick up in store. Home deliveries of cash often incur delivery fees. Pick up your cash in person for free.

How to find the best US Dollar buy back rate?

If you bought too much travel money and come home with US Dollars in your pocket you may want to sell them back to get Pound Sterlings.

  • Shop around. The exchange rate may have changed since you bought your travel money, so you'll need to shop around again to find the best option

  • Look for buy back options on the high street. Buy back services may be offered by banks and physical exchange stores but they're not usually an option online

  • Check what you can exchange. You can usually only exchange higher denomination notes which are clean and unmarked - coins are seldom accepted

  • Get a travel card. Use a card instead of exchanging your money in advance, to avoid having left over US Dollars to deal with. Leave your money in Pound Sterlings and let the card convert as and when you need to.

Where can you use US Dollars?

You can use USD in the United States and its official territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands). Several countries use the USD either as their official currency or as an accepted alternative. These include:

EcuadorEl SalvadorPanama
East Timor (Timor-Leste)ZimbabweBritish Virgin Islands
The Turks and Caicos IslandsThe Bahamas*Cambodia*
Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba)

In the Bahamas, USD is accepted widely alongside the Bahamian dollar. In Cambodia USD is widely accepted alongside the Cambodian riel.

How much money do I need for the United States?

Your budget for a trip to the United States can vary enormously depending on what you’re planning to do, where you’ll stay and how long you’re going to be there. It’s worth setting yourself a budget in US Dollars well in advance so you can plan around that. The most expensive costs of any trip are usually accommodation and activities, but do remember to also take into account costs of currency exchange, food and transport, as well as incidentals like tipping.

Average hotel costs in the United States do vary a lot but can start from around £201. On top of that you’ll need to budget for food, at around £45 per meal. If you’re looking for an easy life you could also choose to take an organized tour which means there’s no need to plan all your activities individually. Or, set your budget to cover about £43 per day to make sure you can get the most from your trip.

SpendingCosts in United StatesAmount in Pound Sterlings
Accommodation$259£201
Transportation$46£36
Meals$58£45
Entertainment$55£43

Country costs provided by BudgetYourTrip. Correct as of 25 April 2024.

When is the best time to buy US Dollars?

There’s no single best time to buy US Dollars. Exchange rates change all the time, so keeping an eye on rates using a reputable currency converter tool or a site like ours can help you get a feel for the trends.

The exchange rate today is 1.29055. Over the last week, the average exchange rate has been 1.29464.

Ultimately the best time to buy US Dollars depends on a huge range of factors, including changes in the global markets, which can be difficult, or impossible, to predict. If you buy a currency when the rate is on a downward trend it may make sense to see if it falls further before you buy. If rates are going up you might want to buy now before any potential future increases.

Nothing is certain, though. With a travel money card you have the flexibility to either lock in an exchange rate when you spot a good one, or just leave your money in Pound Sterlings and switch over to US Dollars using the live rate when you pay or withdraw. This gives you options and while there’s no guarantee you can save, it could give you the best of both worlds, depending on how you think rates are trending.

Buy US Dollars FAQs

Is it better to get US Dollars in the UK or the United States?

You can buy US Dollars before you travel, or on arrival if you’d prefer. Which works best will come down to the fees and exchange rates you can find both locally and when you get to your destination. One disadvantage of buying US Dollars when you arrive is that you’ll waste time looking for exchange offices - while taking all your cash with you isn’t necessarily a smart choice for safety. As an alternative, getting a travel money card from a service like Wise could be a good bet for flexibility, security and cost.

Can I get US Dollars at a bank?

Whether or not you can get US Dollars from your bank will depend on several factors - including who you bank with. Some banks do allow account holders to purchase US Dollars in person but you might need to order US Dollars online in advance and wait for your order to be prepared before you can collect.

Because US Dollars are a commonly traded currency you might find your bank has them in stock if they offer travel money services. Call in advance to ask if they have US Dollars on hand to avoid a wasted trip.

Can I get US Dollars at the airport?

Many major airports have currency exchange desks from providers like Travelex, which stock major currencies for instant conversion. You may also be able to order money in advance for collection. However, it’s useful to know that a lack of local competition can mean that prices are high at the airport, with exchange rate markups adding to the overall cost significantly.

As US Dollars are commonly needed by travelers, you may find you can get some instantly at the airport. However, it’s worth checking in advance to make sure you don’t end up stuck without travel money.

How long does it take to get US Dollars?

How long it takes to sort out your travel money can depend a lot on the method you choose - here’s a quick summary:

  • Travel cards can take 2 - 6 days to be delivered, but you may be able to start using a virtual card instantly for mobile payments
  • Buying currency online for home delivery can mean you get next day delivery options, or your money arrives within a day or two, depending on when you order
  • Bank currency exchange can involve placing an order in advance and waiting a day or two before you collect it
  • Foreign currency exchange offices in cities and at the airport can offer instant conversion if they have the currency you need in stock

Why trust Exiap for travel money?

Join over 100,000 monthly users saving thousands by finding and comparing exchange rates and fees for their next holiday.

We show fees and exchange rates transparently for comparison
We show fees and exchange rates transparently for comparison
We only review secure and trusted providers
We only review secure and trusted providers
Providers can offer fast delivery, online currency orders, and more
Providers can offer fast delivery, online currency orders, and more

Looking to buy a different foreign currency?

We compare the best rates for 40+ popular currencies available for purchase in the United Kingdom.