The United Kingdom's currency is the British pound sterling (£) which is divided into 100 pence. Coins come in copper 1p and 2p, the 5p, 10p, 20p, and 50p are silver, the £1 is gold in color, and the £2 coins are silver with a gold-colored rim. Bank notes come in denominations of £5, £10, £20, and £50. Avoid the £50 notes, which are difficult to cash because fakes often circulate.
CASH ECONOMY: Most businesses and restaurants in the UK will only accept cash as a method of payment, so be prepared and have some cash on hand before heading out.
ATMS: ATM machines are plentiful in Northern Ireland, and using your ATM card will generally give you the best exchange rate available. It is important to note, however, that many banks and ATM machines will charge large transaction fees in addition to conversion fees each time your ATM card is used. For specific charges and procedures, please contact your personal bank. We recommend that you inform your bank of your studies abroad before your departure to inquire about conversion fees you will receive while abroad, etc. Please note that some banks will place a hold on your account if they believe their is fraudulent activity, so err on the safe side and inform your bank that you are studying abroad PRIOR to departure.
TRAVELERS CHECKS: If using travelers checks, post offices, recognizable by the red signs, will provide the best exchange rate, as they do not charge service and convenience fees.
What is the Great British Pound (GBP) worth compared to the dollar?
With the Pound (£) in constant flux, please see www.oanda.com for up-to-date exchange rates. While traveling, it may be helpful to carry a portable currency converter (found at travel stores). Sometimes in the form of keychain, this is a handy gadget (like a calculator) into which you enter the exchange rate (depending on the exchange rate at the time and the country in which you are located) save, and then simply enter prices and the device converts the amounts into dollars.
Cost of Living
The common misconception is that the United Kingdom is more expensive that many other European countries. Though the UK can be pricey this doesn't have to be the case for you. Your ISA resident staff will provide you with the tools to experience the most Belfast has to offer while keeping it on a budget.
While the UK can be expensive to the untrained traveler, there are many ways to live comfortably on a budget, if you pay attention to what you spend and look out for different deals and events offered throughout the city. In fact, a large number of Belfast's best attractions are free of charge!
When budgeting, keep in mind that it is always better overestimate than to underestimate. To give you an idea of common approximate expenses and commodities a typical student will incur, please see the brief list below.
Additional Estimated Expenses
he ISA program cost includes items such as tuition and fees, housing, insurance, and more. To view what is included in your program price, please visit the "What's Included" section of the ISA Belfast program page.
The Additional Estimated Expenses page in the "Accepted Students" section of the ISA website has the following estimated expenses listed:
It is recommended that students look into purchasing an ISIC card for their studies in Belfast. The ISIC card is an internationally recognized student ID card that gives students thousands of discounts worldwide from travel to cinema, meals and more. While you will likely have a student ID from your host university abroad, it may not grant you discounts that an ISIC card could. You will likely be able to purchase an ISIC card abroad, but it is most convenient to purchase this card BEFORE you arrive, as it may grant you travel discounts, and you won't have to deal with the hassle of international delivery. To find out how to get an ISIC card, visit www.isic.org. Once there, you can find information on discounts in Belfast, and what is needed to obtain an ISIC card.