Travel money: What to do with leftover currency

Do you have foreign cash piling up in drawers? Here's how to put it to good use.


Your trip of a lifetime has come to an end but you’ve found yourself returning home with a pocket full of foreign currency. Sound familiar?

Besides exchanging the money back into pound sterling, there are a few other options available to you.

Here’s how to get the most out of your unspent foreign currency:

What can you do with leftover foreign currency?

Hold onto it

If you’re likely to be visiting the same country again or another country that will accept your leftover currency, store it somewhere safe so that it’s ready to use next time.

This is a win-win because it means you’ll be saving yourself another trip to the high street, as well as avoiding any further exchange fees and charges.

Gift it

Give the money to friends and family who will be travelling to a country which accepts the currency. You could offer this for free or sell the money to them at a price which cuts out the cost of using a travel money company.

An alternative is to donate your foreign currency to a suitable charity. Many airlines now offer this service on your return flight home to the UK, as well as at collection points in airports.

Convert it back into pound sterling

If you have no choice but to exchange your currency back into pounds, make sure you compare rates to find the best deal.

This can go one of two ways, as exchange rates are just as likely to fall as they are to rise and you could end up with far less money in return.

In this case, you could try holding off and convert your travel money back at a later date when the exchange rate has improved, but be aware most providers only accept bank notes, not coins.

What is buy back?

Buy back is the process which lets you swap your unused foreign currency back into pound sterling after your trip.

You will be offered an exchange rate, just like when you bought your travel money to begin with, meaning you could end up with less or more as a result of the deal.

What is guaranteed buy back?

It lets you sell your foreign currency back at the rate available when you first exchanged your foreign currency. But this is not a free service and could cost you up to £4.

If rates increase when you want to exchange your travel money back, we recommend going elsewhere to find a deal which will save you more money than you would have got with your guaranteed buy back.

Prepare for next time

The next time you do go away on holiday, it’s wise to think about how you can avoid returning home with any leftover currency, which will save you the hassle of sorting out what to do with it.

Plan and budget

If you’re a cash user when you travel abroad, make sure to draw up a budget for your trip. Taking a little bit more just in case you overspend is a good idea, but too much and you may be returning with excess.

If you prefer using your card, inform your bank or building society you’ll be using it abroad to avoid any transaction restrictions.

Try a digital bank

Another way around this is to bank with a challenger bank, such as Monzo or Starling.

These banks will allow you to withdraw cash overseas, without the hefty transaction fees associated with traditional banks.

This way, if you take out travel money before your trip and find you’ve sold yourself a little short, a Monzo or Starling card will allow you to take out extra cash while abroad, at no extra cost.

Find out more about the different challenger banks on offer here.

More guides on Finder

  • Can you run a business from home?

    Running a business from the comfort of your home definitely has some great advantages, and isn’t a very difficult thing to do. Here we look at what admin and practicalities you need to sort out to make sure you are doing it legally and safely.

  • Instant breakdown cover

    Find out if you can take out immediate breakdown cover after you’ve broken down, what it includes and what other options you have.

  • How to invest in a volatile market: 3 strategies

    Find out what you need to consider when investing in a volatile market and 3 popular strategies for doing so. Paid content.

  • Income protection for contractors

    Find out what contractor income protection is, what it includes and who can benefit from taking out a policy.

  • Top 10 Christmas Disney movies 2021

    There’s not exactly a shortage of Christmas movies to watch, but how do you know which are worth your time? Find our top festive Disney flicks here.

  • Types of bank accounts

    Should you get a current account, a savings account, or both? What about joint accounts and premium accounts? Banking can be messy if you don’t know the jargon. This guide looks at the main types of bank accounts and what services they offer to help you figure out what you need exactly.

  • Online business accounts

    Opening a business bank account can seem like a stressful process, but in fact there are now a number of banks and providers that will let you do it quickly and easily online. Here’s where to look and what to expect.

  • Premium bank accounts

    Premium bank accounts offer additional perks for people who hold significant sums with the bank providing them, and can be good value for money. We take a look at how they work, what features they offer and what the eligibility criteria can look like.

  • How to invest in a falling market

    Find out 5 key ways to invest in a falling or “bear” market. Paid content.

  • Same day business bank accounts

    Find out if it’s possible to open a business account on the same day you apply, as well as what documentation you’d need to do it.

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site