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On every trip I end up with piles of small coins. The reason, I find it quite difficult to identify foreign coins quickly. It is quite annoying to to read every value of a coin, especially in those countries where you need a magnifying glass to read the values (e.g. try making sense of US coins for example). The result is that I usually pay with bills leading to yet more coins due to change.

Is there a trick or template that would enable me to quickly make sense of the different coins in a country I am visiting?

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personally I find that if I make an effort to read the coins for the first couple of times, even if that means taking a long time to pay something, I get used to them really fast. So the best trick I could give you, is just consequently use coins every time you can and you'll be accustomed after a day or two. – drat Nov 1 '13 at 13:00
Don't ever mix Danish and Norwegian coins in your wallet. – gerrit Nov 1 '13 at 13:38
Are you looking for a 'trick or template' like yellow coins are worth more than white coins, which are worth more than orange coins? I don't think there's any... – Federico Poloni Nov 10 '15 at 4:15
A little trick that may help: before paying, pull out a small set of coins, whatever mix is suited to pay the small change bit. For example, in the Euro-Zone, that may mean having 1 5cent piece, 2 2-cent-pieces and one 1-cent-piece on hand -> A small enough group of coins to easily sort through. I never used that for travelling to help remember coins, but it certainly helps in getting all those small coins out of the way too! – Layna Apr 22 at 8:54
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I have this problem. I recently visited for the first time the Eurozone, then the UK. I find the coins in the UK to be especially annoying/confusing. But after a couple weeks of frustration, I just took a moment, when I was away from a cashier, not buying anything, and studied the various coins for about 5 minutes. Since then I'm able to pay without trouble.

So I think the key is simply to make a conscious effort, ideally when you aren't holding up a transaction.

There have also been times when I've just offered a pile of coins to a cashier and said "Would you do the honor?" They usually smile and oblige. I think most cashiers, especially in tourist places, are accustomed to foreigners who have not learned the local currency.

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