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July 25, 2021

Going to London for the Olympics? Better bring your own cash

Last month, London had an influx of tourists flood the U.K. capital for its Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

The city’s no stranger to visitors, but this particular event brought with it a dooming harbinger for things to come.

In celebrating the Queen’s 60-year reign, dozens of ATMs reportedly ran out of cash over the four-day holiday weekend, sapping many visitors of their spending plans.

Get out your violins, we know, but the hiccup surely cost the city plenty, making some wonder if London can possibly keep enough cash on hand when the big, bad Olympics kick off Friday.

According to the Associated Press, tourists descending on London over the next two-plus weeks are being warned of a possible cash shortage in the Olympic host city.

From the AP’s report:

“Lines are getting longer at ATMs, visitors are in sticker shock over British prices and some befuddled tourists are wondering what currency to use.

‘I’ve had people asking me whether they should pay in British pounds or euros,’ said Alex Singer, a 27-year-old London cab driver. ‘I’ve also had Americans thinking that they can pay me in dollars.’”

Yes, the U.K. still uses the pound, not the euro or dollar, but can it accommodate the estimated one million visitors set to hit London by Friday?

*Bing: How much do Olympic tickets cost?

Some 49 billion pounds, or $77 billion, of cash are floating around the U.K., and the country’s Payment Council estimates there’ll be 1,700 cash machines near Olympic venues.

Which is all great, but AP notes that some British financial agencies are warning tourists to bring their own pounds into the country if they want any shot of having cash on hand.

“It’s going to be chaos,” a London teacher said. “They’re going to have to carry extra money.”

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...