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What To Do With Your Leftover Foreign Currency After A Trip

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If you’re traveling overseas with cash in hand, there’s a good chance you will find leftover foreign currency in your pocket (and at the bottom of your backpack) after you’ve returned home.

But what good is that foreign money doing you now?

You can’t spend it in your home country, and you might not be returning to that destination anytime soon.

So what can you do with leftover cash from your travels?

Give it to charity

donate your leftover foreign currency at the airport
Look for donation boxes for your leftover currency at the airport, or give while on the plane if possible.

Some airports have collection boxes all around the airport terminal where you can drop your leftover cash before flying out.

On the other hand, some airlines have partnered with UNICEF’s Change for Good initiative, which collects foreign currencies in flight. Partner airlines include Aer Lingus, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways (ANA), American Airlines, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Finnair, JAL and QANTAS.

If you missed giving while in flight, you can send your leftover foreign currency to UNICEF USA.

Exchange it

If you have currency tucked away in the far recess of your closet from your grand tour of the world 20 years ago, you can exchange them through services like Leftover Currency

The company specializes in exchanging currency from all over the world that are already out of circulation. If you’re looking to get some cash from your foreign currency, this is the way to go.

The company is based in the United Kingdom, but they accept exchanges from all over the world. If you can send it, they can exchange it.

Tip: If you’re traveling and staying in hostels, it’s a good place to exchange foreign currency with other travelers who might be heading that way.

Display it

display foreign currency in a jar at home
Display your foreign currency in a jar at home.

Decorating with foreign coins and banknotes makes for a great conversation piece inside your house and a wonderful reminder of great trips.

Her Packing List community member Ali Garland displays her leftover coins in an intricate bowl she got from the Grand Bazaar in Turkey, while paper notes are tucked inside a clear glass bottle.

If you are more inclined to do crafts, here’s one for your Pinterest board:

Make a world map out of coins. Credit: Bedow

If you’ve traveled extensively, you might be able to create the map with coins from the different countries in the map, sort of like a scratch map.

When displaying paper banknotes, you can frame them to display them better. If you need the bank notes to stay in place without damaging the currency, you can use clear polyester film to protect them from damage by using adhesive. 

DIY Foreign Coin Crafts

Foreign cone bracelet from Crafts Unleashed.

You can also get crafty and DIY by using your leftover foreign coins to make jewelry or glue magnets on the coins to make fridge magnets. You can make a fun memory board or a scrapbook with leftover foreign coins along with other mementos from your trip like photos, tickets, and postcards.

To transform your coins into pendants or bracelet charms with a bail mount and a strong adhesive like E6000. Simply glue your coin unto the mount and you’ll be able to string your necklace through your new coin pendant.

For bracelets charms, you’ll need jump rings to attach the charms onto your bracelet. These crafting materials are available in most craft stores like Michael’s or even in Target and Amazon.

You can also purchase small magnets to stick on your coins. Using the E6000 you bought for the DIY pendant, fasten the magnet unto the coin to make a quick and easy fridge or whiteboard magnet. Make sure that your magnet will be small enough that the whole coin can cover it and strong enough that it can stay in place even with the coin glued to it.

Gift it

What better way to spread the excitement of travel than sharing some foreign currency with friends?

If you have friends who are leaving to travel to a place you’ve been to before, you can share your leftover cash with them as a going away gift. It can help them have cash for incidental purchases right when they land!

You can also get young kids excited about learning about different countries by sharing your coins with them. A coin from a foreign country can open up their minds to a whole new world and get them learning about different cultures.

Save it for next time

If you are traveling extensively for work or often visiting the same country, you’re better off saving that cash for your next trip.

This saves you the hassle of exchanging and losing money on commissions and fluctuating exchange rates when converting back to your local currency.

Put your leftover money in an envelope clearly labeled with the country and currency for easy packing for your next trip!

Still on Your Trip and Have Travel Money in Your Pocket?

Use it to tip and settle your hotel bill

If you are heading straight to the airport after checkout, you can use up your currency to leave tips for the hotel staff that has attended to you during your stay.

You can also use up the leftover cash to partially settle your hotel bill. It may not be enough to cover the entire bill so just settle the remainder using your credit card.

Use it for your airport transfer

If you haven’t made prepaid transfer arrangements to the airport, it’s also a good idea to use your extra cash on your taxi to the airport. Just make sure you have more than enough, because sometimes magic happens with the taxi meters and they end up costing more than it should.

Use it at the airport

Yes, the airport is full of overpriced goods, but if you are killing time at the airport, it’s always a good idea to have some cash with you. You can use it to pay for food to eat while waiting to board or reading materials that you want to read on the flight, or put it towards some duty free purchases.

japanese airport gachapon
Use up your spare change at airports in Japan at a gachapon.

In some of the major international airports in Japan, gachapon machines (vending machines that dispense capsule toys) are strategically placed around airport gates. Travelers who are waiting to board their flight can use up their leftover Japanese coins and get a toy souvenir at the same time.

Pin these to your favorite boards

leftover travel money after a tripleftover travel money

Written by Nina

Nina Fuentes splits her time between Manila and Bulusan, Sorsogon in the Philippines. She is one of the pioneering female travel bloggers in the country and her blog, Just Wandering, has been recognized as the Best Travel Blog at the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and at the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards. She has recently started Just Wandering Tours, offering customized tours of Bulusan and the province of Sorsogon.

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