Large euro notes

If you’ve ever tried to spend a £50 note in the UK, you will be no stranger to the suspicion of retailers. The largest note in the UK, and the last to be moved onto polymer, it is often declined by retailers who either don’t want to change it, or fear that it might be a fake.


But £50 is a tiny denomination compared to some of the notes available in the Eurozone. Customers exchanging pounds into euros could be faced with a €200 note, or even a 500 — and many face the same issues overseas when it comes to exchanging them.

As the European Central Bank announces newer 100 and 200 notes with better security features, we asked over 1000 travellers how they feel about receiving and exchanging these bigger denominations when they convert money for holiday or business travel.


A preferred mix

Nine in ten of those we surveyed had exchanged money before they went away, and 29% had exchanged money while abroad. We asked them about the mixture of notes that they preferred to receive. While two-thirds wanted a mixture of smaller and larger denomination notes, a quarter wanted mainly small denominations and nearly 10% asked for mainly large denomination notes.

The reasons for their preferences varied.

Reason why I prefer a particular mix of notes


I like to have a mixture of denominations to suit my purchases


I don’t like to carry large numbers of notes around


I find it hard to exchange larger notes



“I can split them up to carry in different places on mine and partner’s person,” said one respondent, while another wanted to avoid “getting short-changed in bars.”

Spending large denomination notes

We also asked respondents whether they had ever tried spending a large denomination note (worth over £50) abroad, with responses almost evenly split. 52% had attempted this and 48% had not. When asked whether this had been easy to do, the responses were split again — 46% found it hard to find a business to accept the note, but 54% had had no issues.

Only 12% had tried to spend the 200 note.

Getting the balance right

Andy Buller, banking expert at Consumer Intelligence, says that travel money companies should take note of consumer preference when exchanging travel money for consumers.

It is clear from our survey that customers have different priorities when it comes to the notes they take,” he said.


“We know that many customers take a considerable amount of cash with them on holiday, and security is paramount for many. Some wish to split up their cash, and prefer smaller denomination notes — others prefer to have a smaller number of larger notes so that they don’t lose track of what they’ve got.

“Travel money providers have considerable expertise in overseas locations, and know which notes will and won’t be easy to exchange. It is this kind of knowledge, and the ability to give consumers the mix of notes that they ask for, that will differentiate a provider from competitors and keep customers who are not naturally loyal to their providers — coming back next year.


[INFOGRAPHIC] How Britain buys travel money


Consumer Intelligence’s biannual travel money survey reveals a detailed picture of the UK travel money market. Our last survey involved 1,096 online interviews in October 2017. Here are some highlights.


Download Infographic


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