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Britons throw away £29.8m of holiday cash

3% of people discard leftover foreign currency

Holiday money

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British holidaymakers are wasting almost £30m in unused travel money every year, according to new research by Santander Cards.

Some £1.78bn of foreign currency has been brought back into Britain this year, by holidaymakers who overestimated how much spending money they’d need abroad – and approximately £29.8m of this has already been thrown away, or is not expected to be used again.

Almost half of Britons have taken foreign holidays this year and 71% of them returned home with unspent cash. The average holidaymaker brought back £61 worth of currency.

Keeping hold of foreign currency

Santander’s survey reveals that although 62% people hold on to foreign currency for their next trip, 23% convert it straight back into sterling.

Meanwhile, 8% of people surveyed said they would give away any holiday cash they had left over after a trip abroad. 3% would donate the money to charity, while 5% would pass it on to friends.

However, 1% of holidaymakers who come home with foreign cash told Santander they ‘currency speculate’. Rather than changing their foreign money back into sterling immediately, these individuals wait until conversion rates are more favourable to exchange their spare cash.

A waste of holiday money

Some 3% of the people questioned by Santander Cards admitted they intend to do nothing with, or have already thrown away, the money they brought home from holidays in 2009. In total, British people have wasted a shocking £29.8m worth of foreign cash this year.

Budget better with a credit card

Which? holiday money expert Dan Moore said: ‘There are plenty of alternatives to taking too much cash abroad. Debit, and prepaid cards can help you budget on holiday, providing you use ones that doesn’t impose hefty fees. 

‘The Nationwide debit, Santander Zero credit and CaxtonFX prepaid cards are good places to start, and having the right plastic on holiday means you won’t need to take so much local cash with you – or risk exchanging too much.’

To find out which credit cards are the best for overseas spending, check out our Which? Best Buys. For more information on the smartest ways to spend abroad, read our Travel money guide.

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