You will soon become an expert at international banking transactions…
Before you leave the US contact your bank and/or credit card company to let them know that you will be studying abroad – where and for how long.
If your ATM card is linked to the Plus or Cirrus systems, your card will work in thousands of cash machines throughout the country. The advantage to using your American ATM card is that you will be assessed the wholesale exchange rate that applies to large foreign currency transactions. That said, have other sources of money in case your ATM card does not work.
You can use most credit cards in Europe but they must be in your name, as it appears on your passport. Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express and Discover cards are not accepted in Britain but AmEx Offices can assist you with cashing US checks. Credit card cash advances are considered loans, so interest is charged from the day the advance is made. Before you depart, check with your card company for more information on what services you’ll have where, what fees are involved and what to do if you lose your card.
Travelers checks can be helpful in case your wallet is lost or stolen, or for an initial monetary amount on opening a British bank account, but are not recommended for everyday use.
Opening a bank account in Great Britain can be a lengthy and tedious process. Therefore, we recommend that students use their American account. Talk to us if you need more details.
When the program is in session, our London office can make emergency loans to students. Students must sign a promissory note and repay the loan as soon as they receive money from home. If you find yourself in dire financial straits while traveling, the State Department can help your family transfer money to you (provided you are a U.S. citizen).