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I have £200 worth of British coins that I received from a friend which he has no need for since it's not possible to exchange them in banks in Southern Ireland as they only accept notes.

Since I'm travelling, i thought that it would be a good opportunity to exchange the money. People have strongly discouraged me from exchanging any cash in Dublin Airport or LAX because of the exchange rates. I have seen though that there are other avenues like going to a different gate and asking someone who is travelling to the UK for cash in exchange for the equivalent coins but that seems a bit...daring and might bring attention to me.

I'm departing in a week and a half so could I exchange when I land?

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    I'm not surprised, a lot of places will not accept foreign coins for exchange, only banknotes. If there's a place that will accept them (even at a less-than-ideal exchange rate), I would take it. It's better than carrying 2kg of otherwise worthless coins around. – Mike Harris Aug 16 '17 at 18:29
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    What do you want to exchange them for? EUR, USD, GBP banknotes? I think you might be better off trying to give them to someone in Ireland instead of exchanging at an airport. – Nate Eldredge Aug 16 '17 at 19:11
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    How much time do you have? Take a train to Belfast though the fare will use up much of that money. If you are feeling generous then there will probably be tubs in which you can deposit foreign coins for charity. – badjohn Aug 16 '17 at 20:21
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    Good luck finding someone that will take £200 in coins from a stranger in an airport. The last thing I want when flying is a few kilos of coins in my carry on bag. – user13044 Aug 17 '17 at 1:06
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    @Moo thanks I did not know that. While I am here it might be worth mentioning to the OP that if there are any £1.00 coins in this £200 of the older style and he does not change them on this trio he has only until the 15th of October this year (2017) to use them. After that they are being withdrawn from circulation with only the new bimetallic coins in use after that. – Sarriesfan Aug 18 '17 at 5:21
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could I exchange [British coins] when I land [in LA]?

No. There's no business which provides that service there.


USA Today say

"Travelers returning from an international trip often have a handful of coins left over from their international purchases. While most foreign exchange companies and large banks are willing to buy back international bills, finding a home for unneeded coins is a bit more challenging."

They go on to suggest

  • Spending them at the airport you take off from (but I doubt Dublin airport shops will accept £200 in coins in payment. Unless you kissed the Blarney stone, acquired an incredible "gift o' the gab" and are willing to overpay outrageously)
  • Selling them to collectors via garage-sale or online ad (but this is after not when you land)
  • Donating them to UNICEF (but donation is not exchange)

None of these meet your criteria.


Provenance & condition

One thing to be aware of is that the old-style £1 coin was forged on a large scale. At one time about 1 in 20 was a forgery. You almost certainly have one or more forged £1 coins in your £200.

If your friend was not a close friend but a recent acquaintance, or if the collection is of coins that they accumulated because the coins were refused in coin machines, you might have more than a few worthless coins in that £200.

If anyone at an airport offered to sell me £200 in coins, I'd assume it was a probably a scam and that the coins were mostly worthless.

USA Today's suggestion of selling them to collectors seems odd to me. Any serious collector of coins will want mint-condition uncirculated coins and interesting or rare coins. I doubt any of your collection fall into those categories.

  • Not all coin collectors are serious. The vast majority of my collection is coins that I acquired in change when shopping, and when friends travel to countries I haven't visited I usually offer to buy the spare change they don't manage to get rid of. – Peter Taylor Aug 19 '17 at 9:13
  • @Peter: fair point. I have a collection of surplus foreign coins collected on my travels but I wouldn't buy £200 of assorted coins of a single country. Maybe USA today's idea is ok for smaller numbers of coins. It would be a lot of work to sell £200 in small groups but maybe the OP could do that. – RedGrittyBrick Aug 19 '17 at 9:34
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A poor rate of exchange is just the price you pay for having coins instead of notes. Coins are more fiddly to deal with and smaller value, so exchange places don't want to deal with them.

However, since the UK and Ireland share a land border, it's relatively easy to find someone who is likely to be travelling from Ireland to Northern Ireland.

Your options are really

  1. Exchange at Dublin airport, or another exchange place, and take the hit on the exchange rate
  2. Find a person about to travel to the UK and sell them the coins, probably at a discount. They will want to give you Euros in return, which you will then have to exchange to USD.
  3. Keep the coins in case you ever come back to the UK
  4. Make them an extremely generous donation in the 'unwanted coins' collections that lots of airlines and airports have.
  5. Drive over the border to the North and find a British bank and change the coins for banknotes.

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