Travelers often keep small denominations of foreign money acquired on trips abroad as souvenirs. Sometimes though, the foreign money makes it back home accidentally when travelers forget to exchange the currency back into dollars. Fortunately, cashing in on old foreign money is as easy as taking a trip to your local bank or stopping at the currency exchange booth of your nearest airport.
Find out how much your old foreign cash is worth. Many financial institutions have online currency converters where you can simply input how much you have in foreign currency and the country where the currency is valid, to find out how many dollars you can expect to get for the foreign money. Remember that exchange rates can vary daily, so do this on the date that you expect to convert the money into dollars.
Gather all the old, foreign money you want to convert. For easy sorting, put all money from the same country in a single envelope, if you have money from more than one country.
Take your old, foreign money to your local bank or the currency exchange booth of your nearest major airport. Keep in mind that sometimes in airports these booths are located after security checkpoints, so if you have an upcoming trip simply take the old, foreign money with you to the airport to avoid a separate trip to a bank.
Present your old, foreign money to the teller and specify that you want it in U.S. currency. The teller will return you U.S. dollars and coins in exchange for your old foreign money.
Check that the amount of U.S. currency you receive is equal or nearly equal to the amount you got using an online converter with current rates of exchange. A small variation is normal because exchange rates are constantly adjusting, and some financial institutions and currency exchange places also charge a nominal fee for the service.
Take your receipt, as well as any portion of your foreign funds that was not able to be converted. This may happen if you have foreign coins that are worth too little to be converted into U.S. currency, or when foreign currency has gone out of circulation.
Call coin collectors and currency dealers in your area to see if any would be interested in purchasing your remaining foreign currency. If so, negotiate a sale price and take your remaining foreign currency to be sold for U.S. cash.
- Foreign Money: The Worth of Foreign Money in American Dollars
- The National Bureau of Economic Research. “Currency Baskets and Real Effective Exchange Rates.” Accessed April 15, 2020.
- International Monetary Fund. “Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions.” Accessed April 15, 2020.
- BIS. “About BIS - overview.” Accessed April 15, 2020.
- International Monetary Fund. “Does the Exchange Rate Regime Matter for Inflation and Growth?” Accessed April 15, 2020.
Cynthia Gomez has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. She is currently an editor at a major publishing company, where she works on various trade journals. Gomez also spent many years working as a newspaper reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.