UK holidaymakers hoard nearly £1billion in forgotten currency

30th Sep 2009
UK holidaymakers hoard nearly £1billion in forgotten currency

UK holidaymakers could be sitting on a pot of cash of over £800 million*
in forgotten foreign currency, the equivalent of over 350,000 return
flights to New York**  or 1.5 million family holidays to Spain.  According
to a study released today, each UK traveller****  has on average the
equivalent of more than £40 in unspent holiday money left over from
previous trips.*****

The study of 1,000 holidaymakers, commissioned by American Express Global
Foreign Exchange Services, reveals that only eighteen per cent of UK
travellers make a concerted effort to change back their unspent foreign
currency. A number of reasons are given as to why they keep hold of their
foreign cash:

•    28% potentially equating to nearly six million British adults, are
not changing their unspent currency upon returning home because they put it
off to a later date
•    Nearly one in ten (9%) say they are too tired
•    8% feel they do not have enough time
•    2% potentially equating to 417,713 Brits are unsure where to go to
get it changed back******

However, the most popular reason for not changing back unused holiday money
for over half (53%) of respondents is commission charges, indicating that
many may be unaware these can be avoided by simply utilising a buy back
guarantee offered by many foreign exchange services. A guarantee can ensure
that customers’ currency left over after a holiday can be bought back by
the foreign exchange service at the same foreign exchange rate used on the
day of purchase, commission free.

Commenting on the findings Helen Grace, VP, American Express Global Foreign
Exchange Services said: “In today’s economic climate most holidaymakers
have their eye on the budget when booking a trip, no doubt spending a
significant amount of time researching the holiday market before booking.
However, these same holiday makers are clearly missing a trick by not
changing back their unused currency on their return home.”


Fly buy
In an attempt to reduce the amount of currency brought home, the report
also reveals that more than one in four (27%) UK travellers are spending
the remainder of their left over holiday money on novelty chocolate,
souvenirs and CDs as they pass through their holiday airport. It is the
younger adults who are the most likely to do this, with over a third (36%)
doing a spot of novelty shopping, compared to only one fifth of over 55
year olds.

Helen Grace concludes: “The study reveals that across the UK there is a
currency black hole, with kitchen drawers and pots holding onto forgotten
foreign currency that could be converted back to sterling and spent on
other things.”


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