GBP to USD improving: time to travel?

The pound continues to rise against the dollar! Your money is now worth so much more! Travel! Spend! Party!

But wait a second. How much do you really gain by taking the exchange rate into consideration? Is this just some kind of sneaky marketing ploy to get us to buy trips to the U.S. because now we "can" afford it? What time period are we talking here? According to the Oanda International Currency Converter:

  • One year go, £1 bought $1.98 U.S. dollars
  • 6 months ago, £1 bought $1.51 U.S dollars
  • 3 months ago, £1 bought $1.44 U.S. Dollars
  • 1 month ago, £1 bought $1.47 U.S. Dollars
  • Today (5/26/09), £1 bought $1.59 U.S. Dollars

So if you consider how many more dollars you could spend compared to one year ago when you almost got 2 bucks($1.98) to the pound, we'll probably all glum about it, but compared to the rate on 01/24/2009 when you only got 1.37340 dollars you're doing great!

What does all this mean for you, the traveller thinking that maybe you could after all swing a trip to the U.S. within the next few weeks?

Not much, except for this: Don't change currency at the airport, and do your homework beforehand. Sometimes the fees are so high that they negate any exchange rate advantage you may have. Better options include:

1. changing money at a local currency exchange agent. Try  Exchange Rate Provider Comparisons to get an idea of current exchange rates, an alternative to the MSE Travel Money Maximizer.

2. using a cash machine in your destination country (of course you should have at least some of the proper currency prior to that or a credit card with minimal fees like The Abbey Zero or Nationwide Debit)

3. changing money at an online exchange and have it delivered to you before you leave.

If you have other good tips for cash currency exchange, please share them below!


  • Mike H.
    What is the 24th month Vince? And what star sign is it?
  • Amzmalhotra
    Errr ... Mike... before you try to be all clever... think about what you say. Dates can be written in different ways 1/24 is 24th of Jan
  • IfYouCopyMyNameYouAreGay
    Amzmalhotra, only Americans use that date structure.
  • sb
    No. No. No. It CANT be written 1/24.. Americans do it for some reason.. but its clearly wrong. it just doesnt make sense. If you wanna say January 24th then thats fine,.. as is Jan 24th... but 01/24 is not. Its utter tosh.
  • Ian
    Their method makes much more sense from an organisational structure, such that the ISO international standard is 20090124. Great for organisation of data chronologically by date...
  • Nobby
    1 month ago $1.47 Now $1.59 At that growth rate wait another 5 years, it will be $8.79.
  • chrisg.
    Guess who just came back from the US last week :'(
  • Hairy S.
    Posted by chrisg. | May 28th, 2009 at 1:48 pm Guess who just came back from the US last week :’( I dunno, that irish lady who has Swine flu?
  • Mike H.
    Posted by chrisg. | May 28th, 2009 at 1:48 pm Guess who just came back from the US last week :’( Bin Laden?
  • andy y.
    |what piissed me off about the US in immigration control. you turn up to spend many dollars on chinese tat in wal-mart and back treat like Biin laden at the airport
  • andy y.
    I really must caheck my spellinng and gramma
  • TeflonMan
    Sorry to digress from all the useful posts above. If you must have cash, pre-booking through the Travelex website and collecting at the airport before departure usually gives you a semi-decent rate for US$. As far as flights are concerned, there are some cracking business class deals around at present. Given the usually high ticket prices in Economy for the summer period, the gap from Eco to Biz may actually be not all that large.
  • Matt
    I would go to Egypt, rate was down to 7.4 to 1 GPB at one point, now back up to 9 to 1 GBP and rising. It topped out at about 10 a few years back, but is now the strongest it's been in ages!
  • zeddy
    Hmmm, I got fleeced there in Fenruary then. Still, no queues at Disney and Universal. I actually got fed up going on that Tower of Terror.
  • Robin
    3 days later and it's now $1.62!
  • Spencer
    The best place to get your currency is The further ahead you book your currency, the better deal you get. I've had $2.06 to £1 from them before. If you know when your going, it would be prudent to look into them. Oh and yes they're perfectly legit. i've been a happy customer of theirs for years.
  • ctuk
    shame about the € though :-/
  • Robin
    $1.66 now!Toot toot!

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