An Easy Trick to Get Rid of Foreign Cash at the End of a Trip

I hate carrying cash – both in the US, and aboard. Unfortunately, many countries outside the US aren’t as credit card centric, so having cash on hand is helpful, especially when in small cities. It’s a reality that I need to carry Euros with me throughout Europe, pesos throughout Mexico and dollars throughout Canada, and fortunately I can do so with little risk to being stuck with that cash when getting back into the US.

First off, if you don’t have a Schwab Investor Checking account, get one. Not only is the checking account free, but it comes with a debit card that has no ATM fees worldwide. You can withdraw cash freely, without worrying about being stuck by absurd fees tacked on to your withdrawal. My point in mentioning this is that you can withdraw cash as much you want – so $20 today, $40 tomorrow, $40 the next day, without having to withdraw $100 in one shot, risking being stuck with a ton leftover.

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But…let’s say you are stuck with foreign cash at the end of your trip, which is probably inevitable. You have a few choices. The first is you can spend it on things you don’t want – perhaps some bottles of water, or maybe a useless magazine at the airport. Or, you could take it home with you and hope to spend it on your next trip (good luck remembering you kept that foreign cash for that reason…).

Or…you could do this.

Pay Your Hotel Bill

This is so simple, it’s stupid. When checking out of your hotel in your foreign city, collect all your foreign cash and coins and give it to the front desk clerk and checkout and ask that it be applied to your bill. They’ll count what you give them, and deduct that amount from your final bill. You’ll get a receipt and an updated bill, charging the rest to your credit card. It’s that easy – you don’t have to worry about being stuck with useless money when in transit back to the United States, or another country with another currency.

I do this all the time, and have never had an issue. You might get an odd look from the hotel clerk when you give them a dozen coins and a few dollar bills, but it’s never been an issue for me to apply these to the final bill. Once you get to the airport, you can almost for sure pay with a credit card, so there’s little reason to keep cash for there.

It’s an easy solution to a problem almost every traveler is going to face. There you have it. 🙂

What are your tips for getting rid of foreign currency after a trip?

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