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Back from holiday? Don’t forget about the currency

Back from holiday? Don’t forget about the currency

Category: Travel

Updated: 25/08/2015
First Published: 25/08/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Amid all the hype and expectation of an upcoming holiday, it's often easy to overestimate how much cash you'll need. In many cases you'll exchange far too much into the local currency and will be left with a hefty chunk when you return, but if that sounds familiar, don't forget about it!

According to research from Visa Europe, British holidaymakers have an average of £55.25 left over in foreign currency after each trip abroad, with 16% having at least £75 remaining. Unfortunately, many people are leaving it to gather dust, with 39% of those surveyed admitting to keeping unused currency in the house. However, spending it blindly could be even worse, with 30% of travellers admitting that they squander their unused currency at the airport.

Neither of these methods is ideal, as you'll simply be wasting money. Why not convert is back into sterling so you can spend it at home? As long as you don't exchange it at the airport (where rates are worse), it could be a great way to start recovering from the holiday splurge, or you could even donate any remaining currency to charity to pay it forward while you're abroad.

Another option is to plan ahead more effectively, either by not exchanging so much cash in the first place, or by using a travel credit card abroad, instead. This could be a great option as there are plenty of cards out there that don't charge any extra fees for foreign use, helping you make your budget go further.

Of course, you'll still need a bit of cash to pay for things like souvenirs and market stall treats, but bigger splurges can easily go on a specialist credit card. It's a lot more secure as you won't need to carry so much cash around with you, and there's less chance of you wasting currency that you don't spend, too.

"British holidaymakers could be saving money instead of returning home with foreign currency, which likely remains unused and gathering dust," said Kevin Jenkins, of Visa Europe. "Our research suggests that as a nation, we have accumulated £663m of foreign currency in our homes – hard-earned money that could be put to better use or donated to charity.

"And for those anxious to use every last dollar or dirham, a frenzied episode of 'squanderlust' frequently means unnecessary airport spending. Using a Visa card abroad is the smarter way to spend – it's more convenient, it's safe and you won't return home with foreign currency which will never see the day of light again. Paying by card means you only use the money you want to spend and the cost of making card payments at the point-of-sale in foreign countries is often comparable to using a high street bureau de change before the trip."

What next?

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Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.