Brits hoard more than £3.8 billion in unspent foreign currency

Brits are currently hoarding more than £3.8 billion in unspent foreign currency, equating to £57 per person, shows a new study from financial analysts at

The analysis, which looked at the average amount of foreign currency brought home by holidaymakers, reveals that £3,807,984,041 is currently sat in drawers or wallets, unused.

Given the average food bill per household per week is £61.90, that means we could be holding enough foreign currency to cover almost a weeks’ worth of food for a family, or 22.8 loaves of banana bread, if you’re that way inclined.

Here’s where the money is being held right now:

RegionCurrency Held
East Midlands£275,141,808
East of England£355,681,544
North East£152,499,141
North West£418,543,912
South East£523,614,730
South West£320,558,952
West Midlands£337,937,576
Yorkshire and The Humber£314,263,115
Northern Ireland£107,875,248

The calculation is based on the average currency brought home by travellers of £60.66 per household, the average number of holidays taken per year of 1.9, and the current population figures for the country.

Tom Bourlet is a travel blogger for Spaghetti Traveller. Speaking of why we hold onto foreign currency, he said:

“The reasons we hold onto the money after returning home from our holiday can seem bizarre to some, but often it is a push to visit again sometime in the future.

“We always say we will return to our dream locations, but often we end up heading somewhere new. There is also the inevitable frustration that bureau de change companies only change up notes, so we end up with copious amounts of coins. The Euro has reduced the amount of coins I save, but I used to love looking through the unique designs, such as the Spanish Peseta coin with a hole in.”

In another study, AskTraders revealed that 8 out of 10 consumers prefer to use cash when travelling abroad, though 75% stated they felt using cash left them vulnerable to germs and disease.

Nigel Frith is a senior financial analyst at AskTraders, and added:

“Holding foreign currency is something many of us do, whether it’s for nostalgia, saving or simply forgetting to exchange. The small amounts add up and it’s interesting to see exactly how much Brits are hoarding right now.

“Given the restrictions on travel right now, it’s likely many people will consider exchanging their foreign currency in favour of GBP. Even looking ahead to the future, it’s questionable whether consumers will be willing to use cash at all.”

Author: Laimis Bilys