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Holiday Money Hoarders - Foreign cash stash held at home by Britons tops £3.5 billion

Press release -

Holiday Money Hoarders - Foreign cash stash held at home by Britons tops £3.5 billion

Holiday Money Hoarders

Foreign cash stash held at home by Britons tops £3.5 billion

  • Post Office research shows that almost 23m Britons have leftover holiday money at home
  • Over half of holidaymakers are holding currency averaging £155 each from past trips
  • Men have far more cash stashed than women – an average of £188 compared with £117
  • Scots are the biggest hoarders with an average stash of £263
  • Almost one-in-five forgot they had it, but 72 per cent are storing for a future trip abroad
  • 85% of foreign cash is euros, while 25% is US dollars

At a time when sterling is soaring in value against almost all foreign currencies (see page 2) - rising by seven per cent against the euro since the first UK lockdown began a year ago, consumer research conducted by Post Office Travel Money reveals that Britons are hoarding a total of over £3.5 billion1worth of euros, US dollars and other currencies from past holidays abroad.

The research found that over four-in-five (82 per cent) of 2,080 adults surveyed had taken overseas holidays in the past but only 22 per cent of them changed leftover foreign currency back into sterling when they returned home. Instead over half of holidaymakers (51 per cent) kept hold of their leftover currency2, worth an average of almost £155 each.

Men stashed away far more currency than women from their travels abroad – an average of £188 each compared with £117 for women. Scottish holidaymakers proved to be the biggest hoarders with an average stash of £263 compared with £150 for Londoners and just £92 for holidaymakers from the East of England3.

According to the research, almost one-in-five (18 per cent) Britons who had travelled abroad forgot about their leftover holiday money – even though changing the substantial amounts of currency stored in travel wallets or bottom drawers back into sterling would help those with no immediate holiday plans to fund the weekly shop or treats for the family.

Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of those found to be hoarding leftover currency said they were keeping it to use on a future holiday, which suggests a strong appetite for trips abroad when the current overseas travel restrictions are relaxed.

Euros and US dollars account for the vast majority of leftover cash. 85 per cent of the holiday money hoard is held in euros, while 25 per cent is US dollars. Among those people planning to use their currency on a future holiday, most of those holding euros intend to use these on a eurozone trip in 2021 or 2022. However, there is less appetite for trips to the USA as less than half of those holding dollars plan to use these on Stateside trips later this year or next.

The consumer research findings chime with the latest data from Post Office Travel Money on ‘buy-back’ of foreign currency into sterling. In the year since lockdown first began last March, the UK’s largest provider of holiday money reports that there has been a drop of around 50 per cent in the amount of currency converted back into sterling in its branch network.

Nick Boden, Head of Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four UK currency transactions 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 forseeable 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 seven per cent more against the euro than a year ago, but other currencies have weakened more. The Turkish lira is down by over 37 per cent and Caribbean currencies have weakened by 18-28 per cent. There will be big gains too in popular long haul destinations like Kenya, Mauritius and Dubai.”

How sterling has strengthened against holiday currencies since last March


% 2021 v 2020

March 2021

March 2020

£500 buys +/-

Turkish lira





Jamaican dollar





Dominican peso oro





Kenyan shilling





Mauritius rupee





UAE dirham





US dollar





East Caribbean dollar





Egyptian pound





Barbados dollar





Japanese yen





Vietnamese dong





Swiss franc





Hungarian forint





Thai baht





Malaysian ringgit





Icelandic krona










Bulgarian lev





Croatian kuna





Danish kroner





Canadian dollar





Czech koruna





Mexican peso





Swedish kronor





New Zealand dollar





Australian dollar





Norwegian krone





Respondents to the Post Office research were also asked whether they were aware of currency buy back guarantees offered by foreign exchange providers in the event of future holiday cancellations. One-fifth (20 per cent) thought that Post Office Travel Money offered this kind of guarantee – nearly double the proportion for its closest travel money competitors (Tesco: 12 per cent, Sainsbury: 11 per cent and M&S: 10 per cent).

Post Office Travel Money ( offers a full refund on currency purchases in the case of a significant event that leads to the cancellation of a holiday. To qualify for a refund, Post Office customers will need to provide their currency purchase receipt as well as evidence of their holiday cancellation.


For more information, please contact:

Lily Cunningham Post Office Press Office 07967 240604

Christine Ball CBPR 01798 874177 / 07976 285997

Notes to Editors:

1Post Office research conducted among 2,082 UK adults online (19-21 February 2021) by Yonder (formerly Populus) found that 42 per cent overall kept hold of leftover holiday currency. Based on the latest published ONS figures (June 2020) which show an UK adult population of 54.1 million, this means that 22.72 million adults are holding leftover cash. The research also found the average amount of foreign currency to be £154.70. The total ‘cash stash’ of £3.5 billion is calculated by multiplying 22.72 million adults by the average of £154.70.

2Post Office research (19-21 February 2021): when asked what they did with leftover cash, 1,728 qualified to answer this question as 18 per cent of the survey sample did not travel abroad and therefore had no foreign currency. Of the 1,728 who have travelled abroad on holiday, 51 per cent kept hold of their currency.


I kept hold of it


I changed the cash back to sterling


I didn’t have any leftover


I gave it to a family member/friend to use


I never had cash as I always use a prepaid travel money card/credit and or/debit cards for payment abroad


3Post Office research (19-21 February 2021): Average amount of leftover cash per person, by region:

Scotland£263.32 West Midlands £136.52

South-West £230.87 North-East £136.15

North-West £193.78 Yorkshire/Humberside £129.43

Wales £177.17 South-East £114.49

London £150.40 East Midlands £100.47

N. Ireland £141.61 East of England £91.84

About the Post Office

  • With over 11,500 branches, Post Office has the biggest retail network in the UK, with more branches than all the banks and building societies combined.
  • Post Office is helping anyone who wants cash to get it whichever way is most convenient. Partnership with over 30 banks, building societies and credit unions means that 99% of UK bank customers can access their accounts at their Post Office.
  • Cash withdrawals, deposits and balance enquiries can be made securely and conveniently over the counter at any Post Office; and the biggest investment by any organisation or company in the last decade is being made to safeguard 1,400 free-to-use ATMs across the UK.
  • Post Office is simplifying its proposition for Postmasters with a focus on itscash and banking; mails and parcels; foreign exchange; andbill paymentsservices.
  • Researchhas found that visits to the Post Office help drive another 400 million visitors to other shops, restaurants and local businesses equating to an estimated £1.1 billion in additional revenue for High Street businesses.
  • 99.7% of the population live within three miles of a Post Office; and 4,000 branches are open seven days a week.


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