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what to do with leftover foreign currency?
August 21, 2006 3:20 PM   Subscribe

What do you do with leftover foreign change?

I found a five-pound note left over from a trip to England about three years ago. I don't think I'll be going there again in the near future (sorry, guys) and I don't know anyone else who is.

This note is worth almost ten bucks! What do you usually do with leftover change / bills when you return home? I'd consider just exchanging it but I'm sure I'll lose a lot on the commission - seems like there should be a better way.

British Airways used to have a great program where you could leave leftover change in an envelope on the plane, and they would get it exchanged at no cost, then donate it ("change for good", I think). Unfortunately I didn't fly BA on the way back last time - but does such a program exist elsewhere? Any other suggestions? What about coins? Thanks!
posted by thumpasor to Travel & Transportation (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I tend to keep mine. I have very little actual change from my own travelling, but got a lot of very funny money bartending. I think it's fun to keep, and it's only a few bucks.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:23 PM on August 21, 2006


usually i just put the change in the charity donation box at the money exchange place in the airport.
posted by dydecker at 3:31 PM on August 21, 2006


My local international airport has charity boxes for your foreign coids in the arrivals hall. Maybe yours does too?

Children often appreciate foreign money. Endear yourself to a child you know.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:33 PM on August 21, 2006


Throw it out. Yes, throw it the hell away, if it's less than ten dollars, can't be exchanged or given to a charity or needy person.

Ask yourself: Is the time you'll devote to managing this additional aspect of your life worth the money it represents?

What's more, you'll be taking money out of a foreign country's circulation, which can be healthy for nations suffering from high or runaway inflation :)
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:33 PM on August 21, 2006


I keep it too, though I tend to return to most places. Or I give it to whomever I was visiting.

My parents have a box full of the weirdest currencies... probably losing out on a lot, but it's always fun to go through.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 3:37 PM on August 21, 2006


Some foreign coins work well in some parking meters.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 3:39 PM on August 21, 2006


If you know anybody that's traveling soon, give it to them. If not, mail it to Oxfam or another worthy UK charity.
posted by pdb at 3:43 PM on August 21, 2006


Throw it out. Yes, throw it the hell away, if it's less than ten dollars, can't be exchanged or given to a charity or needy person.

Well, I'm sure a stamp and an envelope are all you need to mail it to someone who would have some use for it.
posted by smackfu at 3:44 PM on August 21, 2006


I throw it into the little box of my foreign change. Just prior to any trip abroad, I parse the contents of this box, extracting the coins of the currency I'll be spending again.
posted by Rash at 3:46 PM on August 21, 2006


Just keep it. I have quite a bit of foreign currency in a shoebox. It's currency from places that I've visited and might visit again. It won't hurt to keep it.

Now, what I wish is that I could get rid of all the damn Canadian coinage I get as change. I've tried the "give it back at another store" but they always catch it and reject it. ;)
posted by drstein at 3:57 PM on August 21, 2006


You can send it to me. I'm going to the UK in a few weeks and am currently in the US!

PS, many airlines have little envelopes for charity that you can put any currency in.

PPS, I try to spend my last foreign money on water and stuff in the airport.
posted by k8t at 4:02 PM on August 21, 2006


water in the airport has to stay in the airport nowadays.

I have three pounds and change (in coins) sitting in my desk drawer. I figure I'll pass through London again at some point.
posted by JMOZ at 4:09 PM on August 21, 2006


Ask your bank if they will accept it as a deposit. (At least in the 1980s when I last checked) Comerica Bank would accept deposits (and withdrawals with enough notice) at the posted rates. Hopefully policies like that are still in place.
posted by dendrite at 4:13 PM on August 21, 2006


For small change give it to younger kids - the idea of coins from foreign countries is pretty cool for someone who is just learning about money or geography.
posted by true at 4:31 PM on August 21, 2006


I throw it into the little box of my foreign change. Just prior to any trip abroad, I parse the contents of this box, extracting the coins of the currency I'll be spending again.

See, I try to do this. Hence I have a bowl in my filled with Lira, Francs and other once proud currencies.

Another vote for airport charitable donations.
posted by dmt at 4:32 PM on August 21, 2006


Give it to one of your nieces/nephews/children? Do kids like foreign money anymore?
posted by _zed_ at 4:36 PM on August 21, 2006


Some foreign coins work well in some parking meters.

The washers in my old apartment took Filipino Pesos as quarters. Not that I'd do that or anything.
posted by nathan_teske at 5:10 PM on August 21, 2006


I give it to my mother, who collects foreign currency. But that probably doesn't help you. Unless you want to send it to my mother.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:38 PM on August 21, 2006


We use it to play poker with, when we don't want to use real money. Value is per number on the coin, no matter the denomination.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:44 PM on August 21, 2006


we give it to our friends' kids, who think it's the coolest thing in the whole world.
posted by j at 6:10 PM on August 21, 2006


mine goes to my niece and nephew.
posted by brandz at 6:22 PM on August 21, 2006


In a fit of MarthaStewartism, I decopauged a small tray with some foreign folding money (which, for the most part, still remains far more colorful and graphically interesting than USDs). I got that momentary decorating madness out of me but the tray still looks pretty neat.
posted by jamaro at 6:23 PM on August 21, 2006


Japanese 5 and 50 yen coins (the ones with the holes in them) make excellent earrings.
posted by Soliloquy at 6:51 PM on August 21, 2006


after a 3 month trip to Europe, i found myself with small amounts of several foreign currencies (mostly coins)- i divided it equally and gave it to two of my younger cousins as Christmas gifts. they LOVED it; it was their favorite gift of the year. . .and I didn't have to shop!
posted by jengineer at 7:07 PM on August 21, 2006


Find someone who's going to the UK and trade them your pounds for dollars. You could probably find your traveller through an ad on Craigslist.
posted by Quietgal at 7:46 PM on August 21, 2006


Save it for your kids to find. I remember finding some when I was young and it was an eye-opener to have tangible proof that the world extended beyond elementary school and day care.
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:53 PM on August 21, 2006


If you've got British currency, you could always send it to me...
posted by tommorris at 11:34 PM on August 21, 2006


Another vote for giving it to kids or any dreamers who might find it special. I have a little bowl of change from my parents travels that started with a government paid trip to europe that my dad won in a lottery in the mid forties and that include large and small coinage from so many countries that this homebody will never see.
posted by Iron Rat at 11:38 PM on August 21, 2006


Watch "The Bourne Identity", when he opens his safe deposit box, and has all those passports and currencies assembled so he's ready to go anywhere at the drop of a hat.

Think "Golly, I should be all prepared like that too!" and put your left-over currency in envelopes in a travel-supplies lock box (oh ok, a shoebox works too :), along with the maps you bought, your passport, etc etc.

Then, next time you're taking a trip, you can pretend to be a superspy-slash-assassin. :-)

Actually, I do find it very useful to have a box of travel stuff. I always find that loose change in a foreign currency is far more useful than expected when I return, because either I'm not carrying cash, and want a bite to eat on my way to finding an ATM, or I am carrying cash, but it's large bills from the ATM, and I need coins for a parking meter or a payphone or something :)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:27 AM on August 22, 2006


Like you mentioned, Change For Good on BA flights. Virgin Atlantic also have a similar scheme
posted by superfurry at 3:19 AM on August 22, 2006


Look up a random name on the internet in the country you got the money from. Like Joe Smith or something. Put the money in an envelope with a cryptic note to that person like "Because you matter" or "This is how much I care about you" or "I owed you this for that thing you did"

And then for a couple of airmail stamps you've just enhanced the mystery in one person's life.
posted by rileyray3000 at 2:30 PM on August 22, 2006 [2 favorites]


Buy some plain round magnets and glue the coins to them, they look brilliant.
posted by idledebonair at 5:09 PM on August 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


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