(This post is really for you if you live or work in the UK, and there may be similar arrangements if you live elsewhere)
Traveling the world will leave you with foreign coins that are right now filling jam jars and spilling out from socks draws in your home. But sorting them out and getting them changed to sterling is time-consuming, and won’t give you much in exchange – not much point then, hey?
To put things in perspective though, the value of unchanged foreign coins in the UK is close £1.7 BILLION. That is a lot of money we all leave lying around, and a lot of money that could go to charitable causes. I was reminded of this when I disembarked from a flight recently and was asked for my loose foreign coins, ‘for charity’. I didn’t have much on me coming off that flight, and I had loads of foreign coins at home. How could I easily give those coins to charity?
It turns out charities can accept foreign coins as donations, even if you are not leaving an airplane. Search ‘donate foreign coins to charity’ in the search engine of your choice, and you should find a charity that accepts foreign coins. (Most of them accept notes as well.) The procedure for most of the charities is the same – you register to donate on their webs site, and they send you details of a deposit point where you can drop off your coins. This means a trip out to somewhere, hopefully, close by, but it is worth it. They get a donation to help their cause, and you get a receipt of the value of your donation, an empty jam jar, and a feeling of satisfaction.
My foreign money was mixed up with a million 1 and 2 pence pieces though, which was a pain to sort out. So I did a ‘rough sort’ to divide the sterling from the foreign coins. It’s a pretty accurate sort, and I am sure there are loads of dimes and Euro/US cents masquerading as 5p and 1p coins in my UK pile. No bother – I will take the UK coins to a Coinstar machine, which will sort them into sterling vouchers or notes, and reject the foreign coins. I will save those rejected foreign coins, collect more on my travels next year and repeat the process next Christmas. If that sound like too much hassle, or you just want the cash from old foreign coins for yourself, and you live in or near London, you can just take your coins to one of six Fourex machines located in the capital. These are the foreign currency equivalent of the CoinStar machines. They will take all your foreign coins and notes, and issue you shiny pounds or euros in exchange. Which you can then donate to charity…
You can donate direct to charities from using a Fourex machine in the UK. Simply add all your left-over change to one of their machines, it will convert it to one of three major currencies (£ sterling, US dollar, or Euro), and then give you the choice of taking the cash or donating the money directly to one of the charities they support.
Here is a screenshot of my recent exchange, and donation, using all the shitters I have collected since the start of last summers festival run.
$100 dollars, baby!
*Shitters – road crew slang for foreign coins accumulated while touring. See this article about roadies for corroboration.