Do you save foreign currency from your travels? I try to only save currency from countries that I’m pretty sure I’ll be returning to – such as Euros, British Pounds and Mexican Dollars – but still I seem to have quite a collection of bills and coins from a multitude of countries from Peru to South Africa to India to a little bit of everything in between.
Saving currency such as the Euro, United Kingdom and Mexico always seemed to make sense to me because that way I’ll have enough to get started on arrival. But even that isn’t as necessary these days with so many places accepting payment by credit card.
Fast forward. This trip included five days in the United Kingdom (Liverpool and Manchester) where the British Pound is accepted as well as seven days in countries that use the Euro (Ireland, France and the Netherlands). I had last been in the UK about 5 years ago. Before this trip, I diligently rummaged through my little stash of currency and found £35 and €150. Perfect, right?
On our first full day in Liverpool, Dave was buying a shirt and I generously offered to buy it for him. I handed the cashier some pounds from my purse and she handed them back to me saying this money is no good. I was dumbfounded. This wasn’t some remote country that frequently changed its name and government – this was the United Kingdom! To my surprise, I later learned that the UK had recently introduced new currency – both bills and coins – and that my pounds were no longer considered legal tender.
I asked at my hotel how I could get my money changed for new currency. No one seemed to know. I went to a few banks and didn’t get anywhere. I felt like I was going around in circles. Finally, someone said to go to the Post Office.
I found the Post Office and waited on line and sure enough they were able to give me new currency for my old money. Who knew?
So, if you’ve been saving up British Sterling for a future trip to the United Kingdom, know that it is no longer legal tender. Go to the Post Office and get it exchanged for new currency. As for other trips where you are holding currency, perhaps you want to google whether your saved money is still viable.