Thursday, May 30, 2024


  • Study suggests that millions in ‘leftover’ currency from holidays and trips abroad is discarded
  • Wasteful airport purchases to use up cash include novelty hats and expensive luxury chocolate

There could be a hidden cost of travel abroad – and it’s not what many of us would expect.  According to research from Xpress Money Services, up to £390million in unchanged foreign currencies remains tucked in jars and drawers around the country, over 12 months after returning home.

Amongst those who have travelled abroad, the average UK home contains up to five different forms of currency with the average amount per household sitting at around £47.  High exchange rates and the perceived hassle of getting out to a bank or Post Office are the most common reasons given for holding onto cash.

78% of those with foreign currency say that it has been sitting there for longer than 12 months with almost 10% believing that they still had notes and coins from over 5 years ago.

Over 82% of those polled admit to buying items at the airport for the sole purpose of using up foreign currency.  The ten most popular items for mopping up money include:


1.    Soft toys

2.    Sunglasses

3.    Perfume

4.    Luxury chocolate – costing over £50 per 100g

5.    Super sized bottles of spirit

6.    Cosmetic products – makeup and hair

7.    Handbags

8.    Top of the range earphones / headphones

9.    Novelty clothing – hats, gloves, T-shirts

10. Electronic gadgets – tablets and mobile devices


Other spontaneous airport purchases include bath mats, designer watches and even furniture.

Sudhesh Giriyan, Chief Operating Officer at Xpress Money said, “In order to use up holiday cash, many people we spoke to tend to spend on products they don’t really want, or they simply leave the foreign currency to sit at home, becoming anything but current. In the past, we’ve been lumbered with large amounts in foreign currencies that we don’t need because we can’t be bothered to go and get it exchanged.  It seems that people will do almost anything to avoid the hassle of dealing with currency exchange.  The fact is, it’s no longer necessary to travel with these huge sums as getting the right amount of cash, when and where you want it is easier than ever.”

This month, Xpress Money launched a new money transfer service which is currently exclusive to the UK.  The XOPO app allows users to send money to a possible 160 destination countries by selecting contacts from popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.  Those abroad can use this service to send a request for money back to friends and family in the UK.  The sender does not need to input the benficiary’s bank details as these are stored away from social channels in a secure network.

According to the Office of National Statistics, UK residents make around 48,337,000 trips abroad a year by air travel alone, spending a total of £30,509,000,000 overseas. The average individual spends around £631 per trip and will stay abroad for ten nights per trip.

Sudhesh Giriyan added: “Additionally, any left over currency can be sent using an Xpress Money service which can be collected in Pounds once a traveler is back in the UK. Eg: If a customer is visiting Dubai and has local currency left at the end of his trip, he/she can visit an Xpress Money location and remit that money back to the UK and collect it Pounds once he/she is back. This will definitely reduce the wastage of foreign reserves that tends to lie around somewhere after every vacation”.

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