How to Cash in Foreign Coins
A trip to another country leaves you with souvenirs, happy memories – and foreign coins. You might want a few coins to keep or give away as interesting souvenirs, but if you have a significant amount of coinage left and have no plans to visit that country again in the near future, it's best to cash them in. Some currency exchange shops and hotels will exchange foreign coins for U.S. dollars, but don't expect to get back the full face value.
Loose change that amounts to several dollars or less is best given as gifts, saved for another trip or used in airport shops to purchase snacks or reading materials.
Airport Currency Exchange Booths
Many international airports have currency exchange stations that buy and sell foreign money, ideal for travelers who wish to keep local currency on hand during their trips. Visit an exchange station at an airport or port on the way back from your trip. Exchange the coins in the visited country before you leave, if at all possible, or at the airport once you arrive back in the United States. Not all currency exchange centers will accept foreign coins, so you'll have a better chance of unloading those coins in their country of origin. Currency exchange locations post their conversion rates and fees on large signs. Expect to lose around 15 percent to exchange fees. Make sure the amount of money you get back seems accurate according to the posted signs; if not, ask the clerk to explain the rate structure.
Some of the more common airport currency exchange companies, such as Travelex, also have locations outside the airports. Contact a local office to determine if they accept coins. Some accept euros and British pounds, but not all locations do.
Avoid losing money to fees by instead using those coins to shop in the foreign country at the airport or port before you travel home. Ask for change back in U.S. dollars; some stores will comply. If not, ask for the money back in foreign paper currency instead of coins, as more exchange locations will accept foreign paper than coin-based money.
Visit the Hotel Front Desk
Visit the front desk of your hotel before checking out to convert unneeded coins back to U.S. dollars. Many large chain and business-class hotels will do so, but will charge a fee, much like an airport exchange center. Exchange fees vary from hotel to hotel and may be better or worse than airport exchange rates, but more convenient.
If you've forgotten to cash in that change at the front desk before leaving, inquire at large local hotels in your hometown. Some may offer currency exchange, although many do not accept coins.
Visit the Bank
Some large banks also offer currency conversion services, for a fee. The best chance of converting foreign coins is to check with a bank in the country you're visiting, before traveling home. Or ask around at local banks in the U.S. to determine which offer coin conversions. Many exchange only paper currency.
Ask a Travel Agency
While travel agencies generally aren't in the currency exchange business, an agent who frequently visits the country of your coins' origin may be willing to purchase your coins if you have enough to make it worthwhile.