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Holiday money hoarders ‘keeping £3.5bn of foreign currency at home in total’

Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent
·2-min read

Around 23 million adults have leftover holiday money sitting at home, according to estimates.

With holidays having been cancelled or postponed over the past year amid the coronavirus pandemic, men have more foreign cash stashed away at home than women, at an average of £188 compared with £117.

Post Office Travel Money commissioned a survey of more than 2,000 people across the UK in February, which found that more than two in five (42%) people have leftover holiday currency.

US dollars and UK coins and banknotes
US dollars are among the foreign currency that people are keeping tucked away alongside their UK currency (Joe Giddens/PA)

Based on UK adult population figures, it estimates that 22.72 million are holding leftover cash, with the Euro and US dollar accounting for much of the spare money.

The total holiday currency “cash stash” could be as high as £3.5 billion, based on the average amount of leftover foreign currency at just over £150, the research found.

People in Scotland were found to have the most holiday cash tucked away on average, at around £263.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of those who had leftover currency said they were keeping it to use on a future holiday, suggesting strong pent-up demand for trips abroad.

Nick Boden, head of Post Office Travel Money said: “Our research shows that there are billions of pounds worth of foreign cash hidden away at home so now might be the time to check how much you have.

“If it turns out to be currency for Australia, New Zealand, Norway or Sweden and you are not planning to travel to these countries in the foreseeable future, now might be the time to change it back into sterling.

“These have risen in value against sterling, and you will get more cash back.

“Equally, if you are planning a holiday abroad when the rules allow it, it is worth considering destinations where sterling has risen most in value.

“The pound is worth over 7% more against the euro than a year ago, but other currencies have weakened more.

“The Turkish lira is down almost 35% and Caribbean currencies have weakened by 18% to 29%.

“There will be big gains too in popular long haul destinations like Kenya, Mauritius and Dubai.”

Here are the average amounts of leftover foreign currency that people are stashing at home, according to Post Office Travel Money:

– Scotland, £263.32

– South West, £230.87

– North West, £193.78

– Wales, £177.17

– London, £150.40

– Northern Ireland, £141.61

– West Midlands, £136.52

– North East, £136.15

– Yorkshire and the Humber, £129.43

– South East, £114.49

– East Midlands, £100.47

– East of England, £91.84