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What To Do with Old Foreign Coins – 10 Amazing Ideas

You’ve travelled the world for a bit and now have a bag full of foreign coins in currencies you can’t use or exchange into your local currency, you are not the only one wondering about what to do with the old foreign coins that you’ve accumulated over the years.

Most people find something sentimental to hold onto, like an old portrait in the family album or a coin from their first trip abroad.

But you’re looking for something a bit more practical and discreet.

What to do with old foreign coins

Wherever you are in the world, coins from other countries may be exchanged at a bank-recognized exchange center or bank branch in other countries.

But the process is not instantaneous and they may charge a small fee for each transaction some banks don’t even exchange coins, so you are better off donating them to the less fortunate or buying something with the money.

Here are 10 ideas you can do with old unwanted coins you have collected over the years:

Spend them at the airport

Sometimes, it takes hours before a flight leaves and there are not a lot of things to do. Waiting for your flight can be very boring and you want something to pass the time.

So why not spend some of your old coins at the airport? To use coins at the airport, you could find a souvenir shop or snack bar that accepts them.

Some airports still have places where you can pay with a few coins under $5. Splurge on some chocolate bars, snacks, or get a cup of coffee.

Also take this opportunity to leave the coins as a tip to the person who served you.

Usually, the person working at the airport does not get paid a lot and tips are always a nice touch. If there is still enough change, buy a couple of souvenirs to take back home to friends and family.

When you get home, you’ll have something from your trip to show off to your friends or family and “thank” them for all the help they gave you while getting ready for the trip.

Give them away as gifts

Are you stuck with a lot of 5-cent or 10-cent pieces? You could always save them for now, but another great idea is giving them away as gifts.

It doesn’t matter what you give away as gifts, it’s the thought that counts. If your friends and family members have birthdays coming up, a nice birthday card with a handful of coins can make for an interesting gift.

Young kids will especially be intrigued by something they can play with or save. They’ll surely love holding onto something that’s from another country.

You could also give coins away to your colleagues as a small thank you present.

Bet they won’t expect that!

Donate foreign coins to charity

You can change the life of someone by donating old coins. It’s something that costs you nothing but could benefit others greatly.

We are sure you have a collection of coins from many different countries in your home. That’s why you can donate them to those less fortunate and share some happiness with the world.

The money received from the charity goes to assist the poor and needy, like children, elderly people, or women abused by their partners. Many NGOs and non-governmental organizations accept foreign currency as a donation.

Currently, UNICEF takes any unwanted foreign currency as donations to its Change for Good program. This global program assists UNICEF programs around the world that are intended to provide critically needed supplies like medicines, vaccines, food and safe water.

Get a padded envelope and use it to mail your coins to your local UNICEF office.

Also, a few international airlines support the program and will take the coins once you have donated them.

Sell them

Usually, people are willing to pay good money for foreign coins. The market for foreign coins varies depending on the time of year but you could sell your collection locally or on a web site like eBay or Craigslist.

You can always think about selling it online through an auction site like eBay. You could also try selling them in wholesale quantities through a local wholesale coin dealer or coin club.

Ensure you’re aware of the value of the coins first and that you get a fair price for your efforts.

Use them to decorate

If you’re a traveller at heart, chances are that you’ve gathered up a collection of foreign coins. These serve as memories of the places, people, culture, events, and sites you’ve visited.

Instead of just throwing them away, use them to decorate your home or office. You can also add them to your photography or jewelry-making collections. The possibilities are endless when it comes to using your old coins as decoration.

If you’re looking for things to decorate with, there are many possibilities in the travel industry and they would even make the perfect gift for friends and family members who travel often. Alternatively, clean and disinfect all the coins before displaying then in a glass jar.

Put this jar right next to your bed, on a windowsill or where you spend your time.

This way, you will have the same feeling of happiness and contentment every time you look at them.

Load the coins onto the Starbucks gift card

Starbucks is a globally known coffee chain and you can use your old coins to buy coffee from them. If you have Starbucks gift cards, you can load your coins onto the card.

This way, you could get a delicious cup of coffee for free with the help of your old coins. This program is not available everywhere, but it is worth asking if the local Starbucks location takes foreign currency or gift cards as payment.

In this case, you must use the leftover currency before you depart from the particular country. If the account has a limit, you may want to leave the balance on the card and use it in other countries.

Become a coin collector

Hobbyists, who collect coins for the value of their collection, are always walking around with a coin pouch or coin purse in their pockets.

If your interest lies in these sorts of items and you have a small amount of foreign coins to add to your collection, you could join a local coin club or purchase them at hobby shops and coin shops.

Coin collecting provides collectors with the sense of accomplishment that comes from having rare or valuable coins in their collection. It also helps develop an appreciation for history and the economics behind the monetary system.

Coin collecting is great way to get a taste of history. You will be amazed at the stories and facts that you learn by reading the inscriptions on foreign coins. You’ll learn about the economic system, government, people, and customs of different countries.

Collectors also know fairly more about geography and history as well as how to spot counterfeit coins.

Use them to line a picture frame

Another great idea is lining a picture frame with coins. This will add an extra touch of beauty to your wall décor.

With this idea, you can use both old and new foreign coins. It’s a nice little touch that will make your photos and art stand out.

In this way, you will be reminded of your travels and adventures. The beautiful colors and designs that come with the coins make for a nice display of art in any setting.

This idea is perfect for picture frames containing photos of your travels and escapades across the globe.

You will be reminded of where you’ve been and the wonderful people in your life.

Nothing will be able to beat the memories of your past and the look of appreciation in a client’s or friend’s eyes, when they see the coins lined up on your wall.

Donate coins to a school

Teachers often need foreign coins to teach about foreign currencies. You can give them foreign coins to use in the classroom.

You can also donate your coins to a charity that donates the coins for school projects or for displays in classrooms. Sometime the requests for foreign currency donations come from school administrators.

So ask one of the local schools whether they would like to have a spare change jar. You will be helping them get the resources they need to pass on knowledge and a love of learning.

Children learn by example and you can show them that there are fun and interesting things to learn about in the world. According to studies, children who have developed a love of learning, at an early age, tend to do well in school and in their life after graduating.

Also, they are more likely to pursue interests in the same manner as adults.

This love of learning will lead them to explore the world, travel and grow their skills in a desired trade.

Store them for later

You could store your old coins in a safety deposit box or a hidden safe. This could be the perfect place to store them as you’ll never have to worry about losing your coins.

The safety of your coins is also important. The idea of storing them in a safe will not only make them last longer, but it will also help prevent theft.

You might travel back to that country someday, after all. In case you decide to visit the particular country again, you will be able to use the coins as currency once more.

It is possible that the value of some coins may increase over time due to inflation or other economic factors. Some people may want to cash in their coins and use the money for their daily expenses while at a foreign destination.

Others may want to keep them as a reminder of their past travels.

Final Thoughts

There are many things that you can do with your foreign coins. Most people will not collect them, but you can use your imagination to come up with ideas that both educate and inspire.

You can find a use for the coins that you earned while abroad. You didn’t spend them, so don’t lose the opportunity to keep their memory alive.


Do banks exchange foreign coins?

In most cases, yes. Banks and currency exchanges are your best choice when it comes to exchanging foreign coins. This way, you won’t have to worry about handling any currency yourself. They will offer a fair exchange rate.

How do I get rid of foreign currency coins?

You can sell them, give them away for a charitable contribution or exchange them for cash, especially if you have an account with your bank.

Are foreign coins worth anything?

Yes, although their value may vary depending on the situation. If you have foreign coins that are not in circulation anymore, their value will decrease significantly.

Most of the time, you’ll only get the face value of the coins, which may not be very much. On the other hand, if they are in circulation, they’re more likely to have more value as a collector’s item.


  • Jen Wheeler

    Jen Wheeler, co-founder of Recycling-Revolution.com, holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford. A renowned environmentalist, she's championed sustainable practices at global events and leads EcoBright Solutions, focusing on recycling education and eco-friendly products.

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