Banking & Budgeting

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Participants will not be able to open a UK bank account while abroad and must use their current (local) bank and credit card companies. We recommend that participants use their ATM cards to withdraw money. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted credit cards in England. Participants should notify their bank and creditors that they will be studying in London prior to their arrival to ensure that the bank does not enact fraud procedures and deactivate or lock the student's bank cards. Credit cards should be used wisely though, as the foreign transaction fees can add up quickly. We recommend that students conduct research prior to departure to better understand how their bank cards will work abroad. 

Budgeting While Abroad England participants should expect to spend between $160 and $240 on textbooks while in England. The majority of previous England participants report that they stuck to a budget of $200-$300 per week. In our most recent survey (2014 participants), 46% spent less than $300 USD on groceries per week and 38% spent less than $300 USD on social activities each month (percentages reported represent the majority of respondents). 

Keep in mind that London, like most other European cities, is expensive. Below are a few examples of everyday items and activities and their approximate costs in US dollars, as well as a budget comparison:

Loaf of Bread $1.50 - $2.50
1 Liter of Milk $1.50 - $2.00
Large Pizza $14.00 - $16.00
Take-out Burger Meal $8.00 - $10.00
Movie Ticket $11.00 - $14.00
Average Monthly Budget Abroad $800 - $1,200
Average Monthly Budget Boston $200 - $300

For current conversion rates, click here.

Tips for Banking & Budgeting:

  • Plan a budget ahead of time and stick to it!
  • Take advantage of low-cost or free activities. staff plans activities every week!
  • Remember that as an England student, you will receive an unlimited Travel Pass for central London for the semester. Take advantage of public transportation instead of spending money on taxis!
  • Monitor your bank accounts closely to ensure that they reflect your records.
  • Make copies of your credit and debit cards, and give them to your parents to keep in a safe place.
  • Do not carry any more cash than what is necessary for that day.
  • Shop for groceries at local farmers markets.

For other tips on where to eat, shop, and hang out on a budget, please see FIE’s website.