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Do I need correct change for small purchases?

Highland, Indiana
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Do I need correct change for small purchases?

We're traveling to Europe in September that will include a week in London. I've read that merchants do not like to give change back for small cash purchases and that tourists should have exact change for small items. We intend to use credit cards for the most part, but for a cup of coffee or such we will be using cash. I understand the smallest denomination is the 5 GBP note. Do I need to get coins asap after we land in London? Thanks in advance for your help in this matter.

Terry

London
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for London
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1. Re: Do I need correct change for small purchases?

Where on earth have you heard this nonsense? (Please don't say RIck Steves). You can definitely get change for small purchases. There are £1 and £2 coins as well as smaller ones which you . Obviously walking in with a £20 note for a 20p item does not go down well esp in smaller shops like newsagents (or a £50 note as happened in AP stores the other day) but other than that using £5 and £10 is perfectly normal and for some of us a way of getting some small change in the first place.

Dunfermline, United...
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2. Re: Do I need correct change for small purchases?

Don't know where you heard that little nugget, but its totally false. The smallest note is a £5 then you have coins in the denominations of £2, £1, 50pence, 20pence, 10pence, 5pence, 2pence and 1penny

You can pay with notes and receive the above change. You can also spend the small change in shops

England, United...
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3. Re: Do I need correct change for small purchases?

Most businesses will be happy to change your notes for you.

Exceptions are buses, small kiosks, etc, where they will not carry large amounts of change.

Avoid £50 notes as even some larger stores will not change these, as they are popular with counterfeiters.

Italy
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4. Re: Do I need correct change for small purchases?

The only place you need the exact money is on buses because they don't give you change but I'm assumming you'll have an Oyster or travel card everywhere else will accept all notes.

Ipswich, United...
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5. Re: Do I need correct change for small purchases?

Many years ago, in the days of the lire, Italy temporarily ran short of very small coins and shopkeepers would sometimes give sweets or other tiny items as change. Maybe the story has its origins in that. The shortage did not last long though. I can't recall this happening in any other European countries in recent times.

London, United...
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6. Re: Do I need correct change for small purchases?

Apparently coins are hard to come by in Argentina. This is not the case in the UK where most commercial banks are sitting on uneconomical quantities of coins 11 months of the year because of the Royal Mint's sales policies.

Like any other country, shops have to pay their banks for change items. They are therefore not overjoyed if you pay for a 50p item with a £20 note. But if you smile politely and apologise for not having anything smaller, you'll be fine.

Most British people get most of their cash from ATMs and the most common ATM note is a £20, so shopkeepers are used to giving change. First thing in the morning, they may be short of £10s, but otherwise it's absolutely not a problem.

I'm fairly sure London buses give change, but only outside central London. In central London you need a bus ticket before boarding the bus, so the change issue is irrelevant.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Do I need correct change for small purchases?

I remember those days, Wansteader, one would be given a couple of 10 lira coins and two boiled sweets as change.

The misunderstanding might be that intrepidaviator comes from a note-based culture, but the UK is a coin-based culture. As above, you shouldnt't have any aggro from the person at the till when proffering a fiver for a £2.10 purchase.

London, United...
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8. Re: Do I need correct change for small purchases?

As others have said it is not true. But it would be interesting to know where you got that piece of incorrect information from.

Southampton
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9. Re: Do I need correct change for small purchases?

I am guessing that the OP may actually have been advised that small shops may not accept cards for purchases under £5 and has confused the issue?

Highland, Indiana
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10. Re: Do I need correct change for small purchases?

John Bermont, How To Europe, Chapter 8, "Change is not as easy to get in Europe as it is at home. Merchants do not like to give it out. They refuse, in fact. Even if you try to buy something costing €0.50 and give the clerk a €5 note you will be asked if you have the corrct change." It was a remark about Europe in general and not London, as I had thought.

Thanks to all for setting the record straight.