How Much Foreign Currency Do You Have?

Posted by Allison on 20 June 2014, 12:17

When we go on holiday to a foreign country we usually have to order some of their currency to collect and take with us. When we get back the idea is we take what’s left back to the bureau de change we bought it from to get our own currency back in return.

However it seems as though many Brits are forgetting to do the second half of the trade. Instead they are hanging onto that foreign currency. There could be many reasons for this. Some people might intend to do it but never get around to it. Others might simply forget. Still more might intend to go back to that country again in the near future and therefore think it’s easier to hang onto the cash to use next time.

Whatever the reasons might be, there is a total of around £550 million in various foreign currencies in British homes. This figure was revealed by a recent survey that looked at how many people still had foreign currency and why they had it. The most common reason was that they decided to hang onto the money for a future holiday. This is perhaps more common among those who have Euros, since they can be used in more than one country. For instance if you’ve just come back from Spain and you intend to go out to Greece next year, the currency will be the Euro in each case.

In fact Euros did turn out to be the most common currency people hang onto, with nearly half of those responding to the survey (44%) saying this was the currency they had at home. Furthermore many bureaus de change don’t let you change coins back into your own currency: they only accept notes. People will then be left with coins they can’t use unless they go back to that particular country in the future.

However while £550 million is a lot of money, it is extrapolated from the data collected from 2,748 people who were questioned in the poll. It multiplies the average in leftover foreign cash per person (£27.13) by the number of adults living in the UK. Since not all adults will go on holiday each year and not all of them will go abroad, this figure is obviously an estimate. It does however reveal just how much foreign cash might be sitting around in the UK today.