Buying Your Foreign Currency At Heathrow Airport

Posted by Allison on 14 July 2009, 10:52

There are a million things to think about when you have a foreign holiday booked up.  You need to make sure your passport is up to date, you need to pack everything you need – and you need to get the right currency for the country you are travelling to.


Luckily if you are travelling from Heathrow Airport you don’t need to worry about being prepared ahead of time.  Once you have checked in you can go to a bureau de change and get the currency you need right there and then. 


Here’s our lowdown on just how to do it.


Where can I go for my foreign currency once I get to the airport?


There are currently three places you can head to for your foreign currency, so no matter which terminal you are travelling from, you’ll have at least one option open to you.


For example, Terminal One features two bureaux de change – American Express and Travelex.  They are conveniently located at opposite ends of the main public area.


Terminal Two has Travelex only.  It is a smaller terminal and you’ll find the bureau virtually in the middle of the building.  If you are flying out from Terminal Three, you can use Travelex and American Express.  They are also right next to each other.


The same two are available in Terminal Four.  These are spaced out in the middle against one wall, with a number of smaller outlets separating them.


Terminal Five, meanwhile – the newest of all the terminals – can offer you Travelex and Thomas Cook to go to for your foreign currency.  Look for directions once you arrive as they are located in several places; and make sure you leave plenty of time to collect your currency before your flight is called or if you are using airport parking, arrive well in advance.


Can I order my currency in advance and then just pick it up when I arrive?


Yes, you can do this at Heathrow Airport.  It can certainly save you time when you get there.  The best bet is to go to the website for Heathrow Airport, because they have a dedicated page that you can visit to find the links that you need.


Simply go to and then select which company you want to buy your currency from.  Be sure to check that they have a bureau de change in the terminal you are travelling from before you actually book your currency.


This is a good way to make sure you will have the currency you need, because you know they will have the amount you want ready and waiting for you.  As you will see you don’t have to book that far in advance of actually picking up your foreign cash.  This means that if you forget all about it you can still hop online to book your cash before leaving home!


You don’t normally get charged any commission by ordering in advance online to collect when you arrive at your terminal at Heathrow either, so you get the best of both worlds.


Is there anything else I should know?


Bear in mind that you might have to queue when you arrive to collect your money – regardless of whether you have reserved it in advance or not.  The process will certainly be a bit quicker if you have reserved it, but don’t leave it until the last minute to go and get your cash.


Of course when you come back home, you could also change your money back into British pounds before you leave the airport and head home.  This will save time since you don’t have to make a special trip elsewhere in order to change the money afterwards.


When you collect your currency before you take your holiday, make sure you ask whether there are any special procedures for when you return.  Most bureaux de change do not accept coins back – they will only take notes.  This means it is worth getting rid of as many coins as you can on the last couple of days of your holiday.  Hang onto your notes and then you will be able to change them back once you return to Heathrow Airport.


In conclusion


There is no doubt that Heathrow Airport is very well planned out when it comes to making sure you don’t go on holiday without the right currency in your pocket.


You need to do your homework in advance though, so you know where to go and who to see in the terminal you will be flying out from.



  1. Well this will certainly make holidays easier to handle once I can actually afford to go on them! I hate the task of going and picking up currency from a travel agent or other place in town – I hate queuing and it always seems like such a task.

    Being able to pick up my currency from the airport when I get there is so much easier. And if you can book it in advance online like the article says I don’t know why anyone would do it any other way. The great thing is that you are always at the airport early – so this gives you something to do!

    — Ben · Jul 28, 08:05 am · #

  2. I agree with Ben up to a point, but he seems rather too optimistic to me. He reckons this new service means you won’t have to queue any more. Well you might not have to queue in your own home town to get your currency – but airports and queues always go hand in hand so you won’t escape them!

    I’d rather go somewhere that gives you the best exchange rate, and that is usually easier to find and arrange online. If this airport service is the best in that area then yes, I’d use it. But otherwise I would take my business elsewhere.

    — CDixon · Aug 19, 01:52 pm · #

  3. It doesn’t matter where you decide to get your currency from. You will always have to queue unless you happen to get lucky when you arrive. I think getting your cash at the airport is a good idea though because you end up hanging around for ages waiting for your plane anyway. At least you will be doing something worthwhile getting your money.

    Is this available at all airports though or just this one? I did see the article on another airport but I wondered whether it was a service that is actually available everywhere? I’d love to know whether smaller airports do it too.

    — Allison · Dec 21, 11:55 am · #

  4. I think this kind of service is available at most airports – at least the larger ones. A better point would be whether each airport has more than one desk to pick your money up from. Queues are inevitable when you fly and you’ll need to be sure you have enough time to get your money. Just imagine booking your cash to pick up and then not having time to collect it!

    I know you have to arrive early but if you are delayed you would be stuck. Personally I would always get my cash first but that’s just me. I can see how this service would benefit people who like to organise everything up front and then collect it at the last minute.

    — Kate · Apr 27, 08:00 pm · #