Interest Pieces

8 ways to use your leftover foreign cash currency. By Shon Alam, Bidwedge

As if it’s not bad enough that you’ve had to cancel your travel plans, you decided to have a clear out and came across the leftover currency from your last holiday or business trip that you were going to take on the next one!  I know, I feel your pain!

Indeed, we can only assume that many people do, when you consider that an estimated £4 billion of currency is sat around in the homes of UK households literally wasting away.

So, do you shove it to the back of the drawer until you’re able to travel again? Or do you push on through with your clear out and get rid of it. And if you’re considering getting rid of it, what can you actually do with it?

Here is a variety of ways to get something back from that unloved foreign wonga:



This is where you exchange your unused currency for sterling. Much as when you exchanged it originally, you will be offered an exchange rate. Unfortunately, many providers do not specify on their websites how much they will buy your currency back for. This means you either have to take your chances or spend time investigating, although it may be worth looking at a comparison website such as

Also, some providers offer a guaranteed buy back service, where they will buy back your currency sometimes at the rate you bought it. However, be aware that this can come at an extra charge and you would have had to have exchanged it with them initially. Also there is usually a time limit on this offer, so if it’s been sat in a drawer for a while you may we be to late to take advantage of this. Maybe one to consider for next time but do check the T&Cs!


Bidwedge offers a very straightforward way to exchange your currency. You simply create a free account, state the amount of currency you have, hit ‘show me the money’ and they will tell you the price they will pay for your currency. If you agree, you post your currency to Bidwedge and the agreed amount will be paid direct into your bank account. There are no additional fees, postage is free, and all transactions are insured.

Bidwedge is a community-based service and their approach means that they don’t need to trade with currency wholesalers and banks, allowing them to offer you competitive sell-back rates – even for very small amounts.

Sell it privately

If you have friends or family members who have, perhaps, booked for later in the year and it’s looking good for them that they will be able to get away, you could always sell your leftover cash to them and cut out the commissions for both of you. You could perhaps even have a deal to buy their spare currency when they get back for your next trip, and so on.


A little help for your friends

Rather than selling your currency to your friends, if you’d simply like to see the back of it, perhaps you could gift it to them to use when they’re on their holiday.  If it’s just a few euros, they can have their first drink on you! I know you’re wishing you were sat in a taverna drinking a coffee or beer but perhaps knowing you bought that for them can make you feel just (well almost) as warm and fuzzy!

If they’re not going away themselves, they may have children who would like to start, or grow, a foreign coin collection. It’s worth asking and bringing a smile to a little face or two.

Donating to charity

Of course, many airlines will take spare coins on your return journey. Not much use to you now but worth considering for future trips!

For now, if you have a favourite charity, it’s worth getting in touch with them and asking if they will accept your currency and how to donate it. Otherwise, when the high street charity stores, such as Oxfam and Mind, are open you can always pop in there. Most will take foreign currency as a donation. Others, such as Retina UK, will accept donations by post.

Donate to a school

It’s well worth getting in touch with your local school and asking whether they can make use of your currency in lessons. Teachers may be able to use coins and notes in geography lessons, to stick to world maps so children can see the different currencies used. If you have any pre-Euro coins you are likely to be even more popular! For older children, they could be used when talking about exchange rates and different currencies.


Make jewellery

If you have a drill, why not make some funky, chunky jewellery with the coins?  Do you have two matching coins? Why not turn them into drops for earrings? Or a large coin could be used as a pendant on a necklace. These could make an unusual and interesting gift, while potentially saving you the cost of a birthday present. Or go the whole hog and join all your coins together in a jingly bracelet that will remind you of your holidays whenever you wear it!

In most cases, as long as you don’t attempt to pass off the jewellery as legal tender, there aren’t any rules to stop you making your coin jewellery. But it is worth checking first for the particular currency you intend to use. See:

Make a souvenir

Instead of sitting ruing your missed holiday, why not get crafty and make a souvenir to remind you of your last foreign trip. Pinterest is flooded with ideas – even going as far as to using it as flooring – but you don’t have to be a DIY expert or talented artist to have some fun. Arm yourself with a glue gun and stick your unused coins to a photo frame, which can then hold your favourite holiday snap. Alternatively, frame the coins themselves, perhaps representing where you went; the shape of Italy in Euro cents or FLORIDA written in nickels, dimes and quarters.

So now you no longer need to wonder what to do with your unwanted foreign coins. If none of these ideas suit you, you can always shove it back in the drawer for next time. Speaking of which, why not cheer yourself up by getting on the internet and researching your next holiday destination? You could even look into how to make the most of the exchange rates and what is the most sensible way to take your money abroad, although personally, I would just look at the pictures, make myself a pina colada and imagine myself sitting on that beach!


Shon Alam is founder of Bidwedge. Bidwedge makes it easy to change your left-over cash currency back into Sterling – at great rates for even the smallest amounts. Just enter the amount, see the rate you’ll be paid, post the cash and watch the money appear in your bank account. It’s easy to do.


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