The northernmost country of the United Kingdom, Scotland is a historic and beautiful land with a lot to offer. Home of lochs, castles, mountains, and forests, it's a place many people go to in order to enjoy stunning scenery, lovely valley walks, and city exploration in areas like Edinburgh and Glasgow. The weather isn’t always the warmest in Scotland, but the people are friendly and the landscapes are some of the best in all of Europe.
Whether you’re heading to Edinburgh to explore amazing sites like Edinburgh Castle, going to Glasgow to do some shopping and sightseeing, or heading further out to the lochs, glens, and coastal areas of the country, you’ll find a lot to love about Scotland, but there are several things to think about when planning your vacation. If you’ve been wondering “What money is used in Scotland?” then read on to find out all about Scottish currency.
Official Currency in Scotland
Many people heading to Europe can get easily confused by all the different currencies in the different countries. A lot of nations currently use the Euro as their official currency, but Scotland isn’t one of them. In Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, the official currency is the pound sterling. The symbol for this currency is £ and the code used on conversion and exchange tables is GBP.
The pound is a simple currency to understand. One pound is made up of 100 pence (p). The pound is a highly-traded currency and its value changes often, so you’ll need to consult live currency conversion charts in order to get an idea of its current value before your trip. In general, a pound is worth slightly more than a US dollar.
So how is Scottish currency different from the rest of the UK? In general, it isn’t, but there are a few differences. Scotland uses a £100 note, for example, whereas this is not seen in other parts of the UK. The Bank of Scotland also issues special Scottish notes that differ in appearance to the notes you would find in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
Coins and Notes in Scotland
Coins and notes have been used in Scotland and throughout the UK for many years. The coin system in Scotland is very easy to understand and the coins used in Scotland are the same as you’ll find and use in the rest of the UK. You can find the following coins in Scotland:
- 1 pence (also known as a penny)
- 2 pence
- 5 pence
- 10 pence
- 20 pence
- 50 pence
- 1 pound
- 2 pound
The coins used in Scotland are made of different metals and have differing sizes, thicknesses, and shapes to help users differentiate between them with ease. The coins essentially follow a simple system: the lowest values are copper, the middle values are cupronickel, and the highest values (the £1 and £2 coins) are made of nickel and brass. All of the coins are circular except the 20p and 50p, which have heptagonal shapes.
When it comes to notes, here are the different options you’ll find:
As previously mentioned, Scotland has its own set of notes which are slightly different in appearance to other British notes. The other UK notes are used regularly in Scotland too, so you might find yourself with different-looking notes that actually have the same values. They’re quite easy to understand though and all are clearly marked and color coded. All Scottish notes are also decorated with an image of Sir Walter Scott.
Using Credit Cards in Scotland
Cards are widely accepted in Scotland. Both credit and debit cards are used there and the ‘chip and pin’ system is a regular part of life for Scottish people. This may be a problem for American visitors who don’t have chip and pin cards, as purchases made on your card may require a signature. This can lead to some American cards being rejected.
In general, however, cards are accepted almost everywhere in Scotland. Some pubs, cafes, smaller shops, and village locations may request customers to pay in cash, but there are ATMs all over the country and it’s never too hard to get some paper money when you need it.
Using US Dollars or Other Currencies in Scotland
The pound is the only currency accepted in Scotland. Scottish establishments will accept both Scottish notes and other British notes and coins. They won’t accept Euros, US dollars, or other currencies, but there are plenty of places where you can get money changed over in big cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Tips for Currency in Scotland
On your next trip to Scotland, be sure to remember the following money tips:
- Remember that not everywhere will accept cards. This is especially true in the more rural locations and little towns. Card machines require wireless signals to effectuate payments, and these machines struggle to work in some of the more mountainous areas of Scotland, so many places rely on cash payments. Be sure to keep some cash on your person whenever possible.
- Be sure to compare prices when buying your pounds as you might get better rates and deals at other banks or currency exchange locations.
- When buying your currency outside of Scotland, you’ll probably be given regular British pounds. If so, you don’t need to worry as these will be accepted in Scotland and are actually more useful overall if you happen to go over the border into England or visit Wales or Northern Ireland.
- If you do visit other parts of the UK, be aware that Scottish notes may not be accepted. A technicality in the way these notes are made means they aren’t always taken at shops and places around England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Try to spend your Scottish notes in Scotland and use the other British notes for the rest of the UK.
- Keep some change on you at all times for little things like taking the bus, paying for parking, or buying things at markets.
- Tipping isn’t part of Scottish culture but tips will still be gratefully accepted.
- If you’re unsure whether a shop takes cards, simply ask one of the workers or take a look near the cash register. There will usually be a sign to indicate whether the shop is ‘cash only’ or is happy to take card payments.
- Be careful when using ATMs as your bank may charge you each time you withdraw money.