What To Do With Spare Foreign Currency

Admittedly, this is an advanced lesson in home decluttering. If you’re at the point where you are wondering what to do with leftover foreign currency, your name might be Marie Kondo, but hey sometimes it’s the little things that can be the hardest to know what to do with.

This is a question that stumped me recently after returning home from a trip to Japan. As I started to add all my leftover yen to my collection of Ethiopian birr, Brazilian real, Canadian dollars and euros, I wondered why I was saving all these coins. Mostly, they were still hanging around because I just didn’t know what else to do with them.

By all means keep foreign currency from countries that you visit frequently or will definitely return to. I kept the larger denominations of euros, but what about the rest? Here’s what to do:


  1. At the Airport The easiest thing to do is to spend the money before you leave the country, so aim for this route whenever possible. If you have some time to kill before your flight, why not buy some snacks or check out duty-free? Another option is the “change globes” that many airports have to collect spare change from travelers leaving the country.

  2. On the Plane American Airlines participates in UNICEF’s Change for Good program, so if you’re on an international American Airlines flight, look out for the envelopes the flight attendants pass around to collect spare currency.

  3. Once You’re Home It’s nearly impossible to spend every last cent before you get home so don’t fret. You can also mail your foreign currency to UNICEF. Find the address and more about the program here.