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What to do with your Left Over Currency Exchange

Almost no one can predict exactly how much money they are going to need on holiday and how much of that should be cash or on a card. All of us end up with either left over notes (that are easy to turn back in to sterling) or a pocket full of coins. I personally hate it when on the last day of a trip I need to break a large denomination note or get more cash out of an ATM. I presume it is the fact that I know I have been charged for taking the money out, I probably won’t spend it all and I will be charged to turn it back into pounds, or maybe I am just careful [tight] with my money.

Create a Budget

Budgeting is something that ‘older’ people seem to do naturally and the younger generation of first time travellers and 20-somethings have not been brought up with. Budgeting is the word of the moment right now with the launch of the new government Money Advice Service website. Budgeting should have two roles in your holiday.

Firstly, in the planning, can you actually afford to go to that destination? I would rather go to a cheaper destination and have more spending money than go to somewhere more expensive and sit there with one glass of coke and four straws.

The second role of the budget is when you are actually on holiday. It is pretty easy to just spend because you want to have a good time but it all has to be paid for. If you spend most of your holiday money in the first three days then do you have a austere second half of the week or start to spend money you cannot really afford for the rest of your holiday. Budgeting down to the day level is not difficult. If there are particular places you want to go to on particular days then put the money aside for that at the beginning. If you can afford to spend £50 a day on food and drink then balance cheap days when you sat on the beach and spent little with days when you can treat yourself. It’s not rocket science after all.

With the best budget in the world you are likely to have something left over and you have several options mostly depending on the amount, how often you travel and which currency it is.

Keep it – If there is any chance you may be returning to the same destination keep the left over travel money for the next time you go. This normally fairly good advice but there are a number of countries that are preparing to enter the Euro. These plans are on hold now because of the ongoing Euro crisis and the weakness of the Euro but that is still the intention. You do not want to be holding on to a lot of useless currency once it goes out of circulation (see the charity section below).

Buy Back Schemes – You quite literally put your currency in an envelope and send it off and they pay the cash equivalent into your bank account. The buy back providers normally only accept notes/bills so you cannot change coins back this way. We have teamed up with Covent Garden Foreign Exchange who at the moment we believe give the best value for money to offer this option.

Give it to Charity – This is where UNICEF come in. UNICEF are accepting donations or both old out of circulation currencies and current ones via a website called euromoney24. This is probably the best option in my opinion unless there is a local charity to you that is appealing for old and left over foreign currency. There are so many scams these days involving charity appeals that I would be happier giving to something as established as UNICEF. There is a page on the UNICEF site highlighting their involvement in this scheme here .

Give it as a Gift – If someone you know is going abroad give your left over travel money as a gift. I have done this when I had quite a few Euros left over and a friend was getting married and honeymooning in Portugal. I gave the Euros as a wedding present so they could have a meal on us while they were away.


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