Compare the best US Dollar (USD) rates online
Going on holiday to United States? There are countless places to buy US Dollar so deciding where you’ll get the best deal is very difficult. We compare the best GBP to USD rates from 6 travel money companies to show you where to get the best deal.Compare
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What's the cheapest way to buy US Dollar?
When people think about holiday money, many imagine walking into a bureau de change and walking out with an envelope full of notes.
However, more often than not the best US Dollar rates are found on travel money cards designed to be used overseas.
These come in different forms - i.e. prepaid, debit and credit - but the principle is the same: use the card to spend like a local in United States, converting from GBP to USD at the best exchange rate.
We therefore recommend travel cards as the best place to buy US Dollar online.
Travel cards v cash: what should I use?
Pros of travel cards
- Better GBP to USD exchange rates
- Valid anywhere Mastercard or Visa is accepted
- No leftover cash, no wasted money
- Can be cancelled immediately if it’s stolen
- Set it up as a virtual card and pay using your phone
Cons of travel cards
- Some places don’t accept card
- There is a chance it is rejected
- Cards are easier to lose
What about cash?
There are certainly some benefits to taking cash on holiday with you to United States, but beware the downsides.
Pros of cash
- Cash is almost universally accepted
- Great for tipping
- Buying lots of cash before you leave allows you to ‘lock in’ the exchange rate
Cons of cash
- More easily stolen than a travel card
- You’ll often get a worse USD rate at a bureau de change when buying currency
- Selling back unused currency bureau at buy-back rates; these often involve fees or sub-optimal exchange rates
We would always recommend having a little bit of cash on a holiday. With most travel money cards you can make fee-free withdrawals in ATMs abroad.
How to find the best US Dollar 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 of 5-10 Pound Sterling. Pick up your cash in person for free.
When is the best time to buy US Dollar?
The short answer to this question is: it depends. Right now, 1 Pound Sterling buys 1.26315 US Dollar.
It always helps to look at the overall direction of the exchange rate before deciding when to buy US Dollar.
The average GBP/USD exchange rate over the past 7 days was 1.26719. It is 0.499% compared to the previous 7 days, when it was 1.2609.
If the exchange rate is on a downward trend, you may wish to wait to see if the price drops further before buying.
Conversely, if it's on the way up, it makes sense to buy before it becomes more expensive!
When buying travel money you can choose to "lock in" a rate before you travel by converting all your pounds in one go. If USD strengthens after you've bought a load of US Dollar, great! You got that money at a cheaper rate than if you had waited.
If USD depreciates, bad luck! You could have bought it at a cheaper rate had you held your nerve a little longer.
With a travel money card, you can convert at the exchange rate at the moment you make the transaction.
Can I buy US Dollar in the airport?
Airports in the UK will almost always have a bureau de change in the departures area. These are great if you need travel cash in a pinch but you are always advised to look online for the best rates before travelling.
We'd recommend Travelex for airport travel cash: you'll find Travelex branches in Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham and over 110 airports across the world.
Looking for other currencies?
Find the best travel money deals for other top holiday destinations. Exiap compares providers of travel cards and travel cash to show you the best deal.