Don’t leave leftover foreign cash currency in a drawer: Get some value from it

Do you have some leftover foreign currency tucked away? If this is the case you are not alone. It is estimated that UK household have £4 billion of currency that is sitting around doing nothing, except possibly devaluing.

So, do you keep it at the back of the drawer until you’re able to travel again? Or do you get rid of it? If you’re considering getting rid of it here are some ideas from Shon Alam, founder of Bidwedge, for what you can do with it that are useful and fun.

Get some sterling


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 Comparetravelcash.

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 be too late to take advantage of this. Maybe one to consider for next time but do check the T&Cs!

Currency exchange

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.

Engage in altruism

Make a charitable donation

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.

Help 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.

Get creative

Make your own 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 Greece in Euro cents or California written in nickels, quarters and dimes.

Make some funky 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 of 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:

I hope some of these ideas will work for you. You always have the option of putting your foreign currency back in the drawer, but it could be more fun to do one or more of the above.