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What to Do With Leftover Foreign Currency After Your Trip
Lifestyle

What to Do With Leftover Foreign Currency After Your Trip

Exchanging your foreign currency back to U.S. dollars is the worst option.

When you’re packing for your trip, you may be thinking about the best ways to get foreign currency to spend while you’re traveling, but you’re probably not thinking about what to do with your leftover bills and coins when you come home. The last thing you want to have to do is exchange back to U.S. dollars and lose 2 to 5% (or more) on the exchange. Here are some ideas for what to do instead.

Save it for your next trip. If you think you might take another trip to a country using the same currency in the near future, hang onto it. You can use it to pay for things when you’re back in the country, and that means you won’t have to worry about having some cash on hand before you travel again. It’s great to land at the airport, hop in a taxi, and then worry about getting cash (without paying ATM fees) after getting a good night of sleep. Keep in mind, however, that with high inflation in many countries right now, it may not be advisable to hold on to every currency.

Load it onto a transit card. If you want to save the currency for your next trip but you’re worried about remembering it or losing track of it, consider loading it onto a city’s transit card. For example, in Istanbul you could load your leftover currency onto the city’s public transit Istanbulkart and be ready to go for your next trip.

Donate it. If you don’t want to keep the currency, consider donating it to a local school or charity. Many organizations are happy to accept foreign currency, and it can be used to help those in need. Similarly, many airports and airlines have some kind of donation program so you can donate at the last minute as you exit the country.

Sell it. Some currencies will sell for above the value of the coin or note due to people wanting to complete various collections. Check out the going rates on eBay to see if it could make sense to sell some of your foreign currency.

Trade it or give it to a friend. If you know somebody who is going to be traveling to the country where your leftover currency is from, offer to trade it or give it as a gift. This way, you can avoid having to exchange the currency back into USD and losing money in the process.

Keep it as a memento. If you want to keep the currency as a memento of your trip, that’s perfectly fine! You can put it in a frame or scrapbook, or simply keep it in a drawer somewhere safe. It can be fun to have a collection of bills or coins from all of the countries you’ve visited.

Spend it on souvenirs. If you’re not planning on taking another trip anytime soon, and you’re not interested in any of the other options on this list, consider trying to spend whatever you have left. You may be able to find unique gifts for friends or family members for the holidays or bring home a favorite food item to enjoy.

Exchange it for cash. Of course, if all else fails, you can exchange your foreign currency for cash in another currency. You’ll have to pay a fee to do so, but if you want to get rid of your leftover currency as quickly as possible, you can exchange it for cash at a local bank or currency exchange office. Just be aware that you might not get the best rate possible, so it’s worth shopping around before making a decision.

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