Almost £1 billion of unused currency 'wasted' at airports

Almost £1 billion of unused currency 'wasted' at airports

Average of more than £14 of holiday money spent per trip.

Ruth Jackson

Motoring and Travel

Ruth Jackson
Updated on 15 July 2015

Think twice before wasting your cash at the airport on your way home from your holidays. The Money Advice Service has found that the nation would be £941 million better off if we changed our foreign currency back to pounds, rather than wasting it at the airport.

On average we each spend £14.27 at the airport per trip in order to use up foreign currency.

[SPOTLIGHT]The research found on average we feel that we need to have at least £52 left over in foreign currency in order to bother exchanging it back into pounds. Of those surveyed less than a quarter changed their currency back into pounds. Instead 10% spent it all on the last day just to get rid of it, 11% spent it at the airport and 3% gave it to charity.

“It is really worth thinking twice before spending your leftover money at the airport before you fly home,” says Andy Webb, money expert at the Money Advice Service. “Changing money or keeping it for another time is much better in the long term. Every penny counts and you could put it towards savings for your next holiday.”

There are plenty of sites that even let you change up coins, as well as leftover notes. Check out and for example. 

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Get the best currency deal

We aren’t just lazy with currency at the end of our holidays - the Money Advice Service found that less than half of us bother to shop around for the best exchange rate when buying our holiday money.

A third of us use a high street bureau de change, and one in ten change our money at the airport where rates are typically 10% worse than the best deals.

When asked why they changed their money at the airport, 33% admitted it was simply because they hadn’t got round to sorting it out beforehand and 32% do it out of habit. More worryingly a quarter of people said they changed their money at the airport as they thought that was where they would get the best rate.

In fact, the difference between the best and worst exchange rates can add up to a lot of money. If you were to exchange £1,000 into Euros at the airport you would get around €170 less than if you ordered it in advance.

“It is always best to plan ahead and change money before you go as you are likely to get a better exchange rate,” says Webb. “If you are changing several hundred pounds into foreign currency, the difference in exchange rate could be the cost of a nice meal while you are away.”

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