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News Article

Using up foreign currency when you’re back off holiday

Published 25 September 2015 by

Coming back from your holiday abroad with some unwanted souvenirs is normal – that shell bracelet you don’t really need, the fridge magnet of your holiday destination you know your mum probably doesn’t actually want. But how about when you come back with some unwanted money instead?

You might think that you’ll always want money – and that doesn’t stop just because you’re home –but we’re talking about the foreign currency you can’t spend in Britain. New research from Visa Europe found that British travellers come back from their holidays with an average of £55.25 in foreign bank notes and coins from each holiday, whether that’s euros, US dollars or Turkish Lira.

It’s easy to forget about any spare currency you bring back from holiday and it can often end up getting left in a spare wallet or drawer, gathering dust. Let’s take a look at what you can do with foreign bank notes and coins so that you make the most of your travel money.

Small amounts

If you just have a purse full of foreign coins, it’s probably not worth getting these exchanged back to sterling – in fact, most bureaux de change won’t let you exchange coins. You don’t want them just to get lost or forgotten about though, so try saving them up in a jar. Keep it on a shelf or somewhere you’ll see it regularly so you won’t forget about it and when you next go on holiday to a country that uses the currency, you’ll be able to take the change with you.

You can also give any loose foreign change you’ve acquired to a charity – most charitable causes will accept these. For example, Oxfam can convert foreign currency and the Children’s Society will send you free collections pouches so you can send your travel money as a donation.

If you’ve got more

However, if you’ve come back from holiday with a bit more cash – say, $100 or €200 – you’re probably not going to want to do without this much money until your next holiday. In this case, you can exchange the money back when you get home. Don’t be tempted to do it in the airport – this is rarely the best exchange rate – instead, check out a comparison site like Money Saving Expert’s travel money tool to find the best current price.

If you’ve got a friend who’s going on holiday soon, you could offer to exchange the currency to them instead, providing they’re going to a country that uses the money you have. Depending on how the exchange rate has changed since you bought the currency, you could both benefit from this – for example, if you got €130 euros for your £100 when you went on holiday but £100 will now only get you €120, you’ll be able to exchange it with your friend at a rate that means you both get a good deal.

Plan before you travel

One of the best ways to avoid coming back with loads of currency you don’t want is to minimise the amount of cash you take and just use your card for purchases instead. You can just use your debit or credit card for this or if you’re a thinkmoney customer, you’ll be able to use the thinkmoney Prepaid Travel Card®. You can load it up with money before you go on holiday and then just use it in shops or restaurants to pay for things while you’re away. You can also use it to get money out of ATMs and you won’t be charged for this, unless the machine has any fees for withdrawals. To find out more about the thinkmoney Travel Card, check out our offers page.

The thinkmoney Prepaid Travel Card is issued by Wirecard Card Solutions Ltd (“WDCS”) pursuant to licence by MasterCard International Inc. WDCS is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to conduct electronic money service activities under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (Ref: 900051).