So you’re at the airport waiting for your flight home and you have unused bills. What do you do? Really, at this point, you really only have 2 options. You can either exchange it for whatever currency you need at the airport or keep it. Unless it’s a large amount, I always opt to keep it.
First, airports are notorious for offering horrible exchange rates. I mean horrible. I’m convinced that they’re money making schemes that prey on your worries. Of course they’re willing to exchange money when people are literally giving it away.
Also, I typically don’t have that much local currency on me anymore. With newer credit card accounts and some bank accounts, you can get away with paying zero foreign transaction fees. Almost every travel reward CC has that feature as a given nowadays. With some checking accounts like the Schwab checking account, ATM fees are waived. So there really is no reason to have that much cash on hand anymore.
I also like to have some cash available for the next time I’m there. This doesn’t mean that I’ll be visiting the country sometime soon, but you never know if your travels will ever force you to connect through that country’s airports. You may be in a situation where you may not want to use your CC for a small coffee or may want to use up the extra currency. If I have a connection in a country I’ve visited, I’ll try to have a few bills of local currency on me for emergencies. If it’s a long enough layover, I may even use it to go outside the airport to get some food or take in some sights.
The only times I can really think of where you might want to exchange your money is if it’s a large enough sum to make a difference or if the currency is so localized, you may never use it again or exchanging it would be next to impossible once outside the country.
I divide my currency when I get home into separate envelopes and file them away just in case I need it for the future. It isn’t a lot but enough to pick up a snack or pay the metro if needed.