One of the financial challenges faced by travelers is figuring out what to do with left over foreign currency. It’s almost impossible to estimate your cash needs exactly when in a foreign country, and so even if you’re getting today’s exchange rate at a fee free ATM, you still end up with some left over at the end of your trip. My solution is often to just spend that money, which means I generally end up buying stuff I didn’t really need. But it’s a better value than using the currency exchange scams businesses in the airports. I’ve written about peer to peer currency exchange before, but there aren’t many options. WorldKoins is a new concept in dealing with traveler’s leftover currency.

WorldKoins poster

WorldKoins recently launched an app that allows travelers to drop off their extra currency with collectors in cities around the world in exchange for credit in your home currency equal to the current bank exchange rate, minus a transaction fee. In the app you just look on the map for a collector nearby and contact them to arrange a purchase.

WorldKoins screenshot

Here’s an example to illustrate how WorldKoins works:

Let’s say you are visiting the United States from your home in London. You end up with $100 at the end of your trip. You happen to be in Los Angeles on the last day before flying home, and you see there is a collector nearby. You arrange with that person to drop off your cash. You would pay a 10% fee in this case, and so you end up with £72.12 as a credit (based on the bank exchange rate the day I’m writing this post) on the WorldKoins app. You can either redeem this money for gift cards which are available for purchase within the app, or you can transfer the money directly to your bank via PayPal.

You can find currency collectors in an impressive number of places around the world on WorldKoins.

You can find currency collectors in an impressive number of places around the world on WorldKoins

Map of parts of Europe and Africa with WorldKoins collectors

WorldKoins is paying currency collectors a commission, but there’s another good reason why people might sign up to be a currency collector: This is a way to collect currency needed for a future trip. Let’s say I’m going to Paris in a few months and know I’ll need some Euros. If I didn’t have a bank with fee free ATMs around the world this would be a great way to acquire currency without paying a fee or dealing with a bad exchange rate. And I’d be getting a commission for collecting the money so essentially I’d get paid to collect Euros that I need for my trip.

Right now WorldKoins is marketing the collector aspect to people who interact with tourists a lot (i.e. cab drivers, airport shops, and tourists businesses) as both a money making opportunity and an added service they can offer to their customers.

Based on the maps of collectors in the app, it looks like people are mostly just collecting currency from their own country, which means you need to remember to drop off your extra cash before leaving. But I love the idea that someone might be buying foreign currency in my home country. If I can bring home that extra MYR from Malaysia and drop it off somewhere convenient in my city that could be well worth a small fee to many people. Hopefully this type of currency collector will become common on WorldKoins. In fact, I’m strongly considering applying to become a currency collector for multiple currencies based on all the places I travel and the potential for profit.