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  1. #1
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    Managing several currencies when you travel

    Hi folks,

    I wanted to find out how you manage cash when you travel abroad.

    When I travel to India, I generally connect through a European city. It's great that Euros are accepted in the EU! However, I also carry other currencies with me (GBP, CHF), even though I may not have plans to stop in Great Britain or Switzerland. I have had travel plans change enough that it doesn't hurt to leave other currencies in my travel wallet. In addition to that, I have Indian rupees in there. I don't convert what's left over when I leave a country - I keep it for the next time I'm there. It's convenient not to have to find an ATM when you arrive. The result, however, is a bulky travel wallet.

    When I arrive in a country, I shift some cash for that country into my clear organizer wallet. And I shift the cash from the previous country into my travel wallet. This works, but it's a bit cumbersome.

    And then there are coins, which I try to use up. But I'm not good at bringing coins from prior travel with me. At this point, there is a very full mini organizer pouch at home with coins from several countries.

    I'm curious how you manage cash and coins when you travel.

    Thanks!
    -m

  2. #2
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    I never cross that many countries when I travel, but what if you use color coded mini q kits?
    Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful. — Shaker Philosophy

  3. #3
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    Hi @maverick,

    Did you see @Miking's tip about using Starbucks cards to consolidate small bills and coins in multiple currencies? It was in the middle of the Frontier Airlines charging for carryon bags, personal item (e.g. Western Flyer) okay! thread under the packing lists and travel tips forum. I'll excerpt the relevant section:

    Quote Originally Posted by Miking View Post
    The good thing about Starbucks is that you can use their rewards card as a convenient currency exchange for all the small bills and change you accumulate on a foreign trip! I just pull up to one of the dozens that are in every airport ever... order my usual "grande, low fat, half soy, no foam strawberry and črèmë mochalocachockalattefrappe" and have them put the rest of the change onto my Starbucks card. It is added in my home currency, at the current market exchange rate with no fees, plus with their gold card you can sit down, relax, get free wifi and refills on regular coffee and tea. (Move over Admiral's Club!)Cool plus it beats having it in a ziplock in your dresser!

    So far I have tried this in the US, Canada, UK and mainland Europe and it works flawlessly.
    I referenced this quoted excerpt in two different posts (that are probably easier to search for than the original thread -- where we were in the middle of digressions about pronouncing words in other languages):


    These were excuses to show the Starbucks leaf cards that they issued last Fall and this Fall -- any Starbucks Gift Cards will do, but these are pretty, and a nice way to give a gift of Pocket Pouch or Luggage Tag by including a small loaded up card with the accessory.



    I have to say that I haven't tried this yet myself (and I confess that I don't actually like Starbucks Coffee. I'm mainly a tea drinker, and while I might get coffee, as you did during your recent stopover in Frankfurt, it wouldn't be from Starbucks!)

    However, I think this is an awesome tip from @Miking, especially for managing coins. I usually carry the Clear Organizer Wallet (COW) with different currencies between the flaps, and possibly a restaurant card in front to remind me of the currency -- like a French Crepe restaurant for my Euros. I have the older Clear Organizer Wallets, so I can distinguish them by touch (Cork, Hemp, Cordura, Ultrasuede, Ballistic Nylon, Dyneema) as well as by pouch color and divider colors, even without putting a card in front. So there is a primary COW in use at any time.

    HTH

    moriond

    ETA: I do keep Euro, pound coins, and Yuan around from past trips. They get dumped out when I return into a couple of old checkbook boxes (remember those?) and I'll usually try to check to take these along before a trip. But it's usually more a question of knowing which ATM machines I want to use at large international airports. Still, having some Euro and pound coins is useful.
    Last edited by moriond; 11-03-2015 at 08:17 AM.

  4. #4
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    Thanks moriond and Amy!

    It's funny you should mention Starbucks -- I came across Starbucks while I was out in Frankfurt and Zürich, and in both the domestic and international departures areas at DEL. I haven't tried their coffee abroad, but prefer other coffee here in the States. Still, I have a Starbucks card, and I do enjoy their chocolate covered cookies! Smilie I will have to try that next time I'm abroad!

    I really like the idea of using Clear Organizer wallets made with different fabrics for different currencies! I think Amy's idea of Q-Kits would work as well. I would like to keep all of the currencies in my Side Effect (or perhaps the Lead's Pocket worn as a waist pack for the next trip, but that's a different topic), so I think the Clear Organizer Wallets would stack thinner.

    On an unrelated note, I thought it was very cool that I was able to use Apple Pay to buy my train ticket in Zürich!
    -m

  5. #5
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    Maverick, and for those who travel a lot there is a prepaid credit card call Revolut. Revolut - Simply Revolutionary. You download the app to your Iphone or android. You can top up in your home currency and can have multiple currency's on the card. It has pounds, euros, and dollars. It is a true chip and pin card. It works all over the world. There is no fees except the normal bank exchange rate. Of course let me say that I have no vested interest or care if you try it or not it is something to use if you see fit. It will keep you from having left over change. If I have left over money I place it toward the hotel bill, even the coins.

  6. #6
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    Unless the coins are worth much, they are not worth the weight of bringing them back on future trips, IMO. I try to use mine up before I leave a place, and give the leftovers to children in my family who enjoy having collections from different countries. So far all the kids who have received them seem to be happy, and the 7 year old of one of my cousins is fairly convinced that he is a millionaire. (I haven't tried to dissuade him. He'll learn about economic realities soon enough.)

    f I am transiting through a country quickly, I try to pay with a credit card if possible. I have a few with no foreign transaction fees. But if cash is needed, I'd definitely shuffle it around so that your go-to wallet has only the bills that are local at the moment.
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

  7. #7
    Forum Member monkeylady's Avatar
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    This is exactly what I do @maverick. Multiple wallets in my SE, along with my passport, plane tickets, itinerary, and other important bits and pieces. I also do not trade in currency from countries I'll likely step foot in again. I find it very useful to always have a few small bills and coins at the ready.
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

  8. #8
    Forum Member monkeylady's Avatar
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    Trading foreign currency in on your Starbucks card is brilliant!
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

  9. #9
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    Maverick, and those who travel a lot there is a prepaid credit card called Revolut. Hosted By One.com | Webhosting made simple. It has multiple currency's that you can carry on the card. It had dollars, euros, and pounds. You get the app for your iphone or android you recharge using your home currency. It is a true chip and pin card so using it not a problem. There are no fees charged for exchanging money just the normal bank fee. Of course let me say I have no vested interest if you use this or not. Just something I came across. Let me say if I have left over money including coins I use it to pay down my hotel bill. That way I don't have a lot of extra currency hanging around.

  10. #10
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    Hi @maverick,

    While I like the Q-kits for items like keys and small flashlights, I'd rather not carry so many coins that I need to use the Q-Kit in place of a Clear Organizer Wallet . And usually I'll only have two such wallets with currency, and not bother carrying currency like Swiss francs, Swedish Krona, etc. if I'm not traveling to those countries. I just don't travel as much as you do.

    As for being able to use Apple Pay to buy your train ticket in Zürich, I didn't comment on this in the thread about business cards in luggage tags, but in another post in that thread, about ensuring that the luggage tags were designed to hold hotel room key cards, and also plastic transit cards, I mentioned that Boston's Charlie Card (for transit) could also be replaced by the Wearable CharlieCard: Sesame Ring. However, I didn't cite the queries to the Apple discussion forums on Why is the MBTA turnstile triggering Apple Pay?. Quick answer is that the MBTA Charlie Cards are using embedded NFC (near field communication) chips, which are also used for Apple Pay.

    Also, @bchaplin asked about fitting MOO cards into the luggage tag holders in that thread, and I also refrained from linking to the recent Slate blog article on how MOO has started embedding those same NFC cards into their Business Cards Plus.

    But, lest we get too digitally oriented, I should mention that I always do carry some cash for emergencies. Do you remember the power blackout of 2003 that took out most of the Northeast, Midwest, and Ontario Canada? Funny you should mention Zürich, because I was en route to there via NYC just before the power failed. (In some nifty timing, power was restored before I had to get my Lufthansa flight.)

    HTH

    moriond

  11. #11
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    I remember Miking's tip and I want to try it - but is only the change from that single transaction put on the Starbucks card, or will the cashier consolidate other change as well?

    And are there any services I can use to turn in old marks, francs, etc now?

  12. #12
    Volunteer Moderator Alumni Badger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoStanford View Post
    I remember Miking's tip and I want to try it - but is only the change from that single transaction put on the Starbucks card, or will the cashier consolidate other change as well?
    Just say "I want to top up my card as well," and hand over all the cash. They'll put it all on the card, and then debit the card for the cost of the transaction. I can only see a couple of instances when they might balk—for instance, if there's a queue of people out the door and you've just handed them 75 coins or something like that. In general, they're happy to do it.

    In Europe, if I've got a zillion €.1 or .2, I'll often duck into a McDonald's or the like and stuff them all in the charity collection bin.

    ETA: to answer your other question, there are services like Leftover Currency which will take cash from a number of phased-out currencies and convert to USD, GBP or €. I don't know if any of them are a good "deal," per se, but getting something for them is probably better than nothing.
    Last edited by Badger; 11-03-2015 at 02:08 PM.

  13. #13
    Forum Member monkeylady's Avatar
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    What about our banks? Wouldn't they take foreign currency as a deposit? You'd have to deal with a person and not a machine...I'll check my credit union....
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

  14. #14
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    @monkeylady,
    some banks will allow you to deposit/take out foreign currency, but not all. If your bank offers this service, that's probably the easiest way. However, even banks that offer this service may only deal with certain denominations; for instance, some will accept bills but not coins, or some coins but not the smallest denominations. It all really depends.

    I am not sure that any banks will deal with expired currency, which was what @GoStanford was asking about.

  15. #15
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by travelman View Post
    Maverick, and those who travel a lot there is a prepaid credit card called Revolut. Hosted By One.com | Webhosting made simple. It has multiple currency's that you can carry on the card. It had dollars, euros, and pounds. You get the app for your iphone or android you recharge using your home currency. It is a true chip and pin card so using it not a problem. There are no fees charged for exchanging money just the normal bank fee. Of course let me say I have no vested interest if you use this or not. Just something I came across. Let me say if I have left over money including coins I use it to pay down my hotel bill. That way I don't have a lot of extra currency hanging around.
    @travelman, this is very interesting. I have two credit cards that have no foreign transaction fees, but they are chip and signature, not chip and pin, so this would be an improvement, and something useful to add to my travel wallet.

    Have you used this successfully, and if so, in which countries?
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

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