Australian travellers are sitting on more than $800 million in leftover foreign currency which they’ve failed to convert upon their return, new research has found.
Instead of exchanging currency when their holiday is over, an average of $221 per traveller is stuffed away into drawers and boxes and forgotten about, the Mastercard Money Management Index has claimed.
Given that 45% of Australians have travelled in the past 12 months, the Index estimates that $813 million worth of foreign currency is currently gathering dust in people’s homes.
Are you like an Australian traveller when you return from a holiday? Studies from earlier in 2014 suggest Brits have more than £100 in leftover currency at home, suggesting people across the world prefer to stash rather than convert leftover currency.
A changing approach
The study does predict that these figures will decline in coming years though, as people jetting off on their travels turn to prepaid travel cards instead of cash.
As far as Australians are concerned, a dip in the value of the Australian dollar could also see them change their approach sooner rather than later as they recognise the benefits of using such cards.
These prepaid travel cards enable travellers to get a refund on any leftover currency or to save it until another trip. A convenient and safe option, they enable travellers to keep a close eye on their spending – ideal for anyone who is looking to budget for a particularly long trip overseas.
Growth in prepaid travel card use
Mastercard has reported growth of 70% in prepaid card use since the start of 2013, showing the growing trend of turning to cash alternatives.
The company suggests that one of every five Australian dollars spent overseas on Mastercard cards is from a prepaid travel card. Such cards mean travellers do not need to frantically search for leftover notes and coins before a journey while there isn’t a need to carry large wads of cash around in a pocket.
Being able to lock the exchange rate at time of purchase is also highly beneficial for travellers who fear that a certain currency may continue to depreciate in value.
For instance, the Australian dollar has fallen from 95c against the US dollar in July to around 87c in November, so people may chose to act before its value drops further.
Should travellers preparing for a Christmas break or an escape from the cold weather choose a prepaid travel card option then they will also not need to worry about dealing with conversion rates or possible commission costs during this busy period.