I went to change US dollars in money exchange few years ago and they asked that am I going to US or somewhere else. I didn't think about the question too much, but now my friend said that they have asked him the same question.

Why they want to know that?

First thing that came to our mind was that the quality of notes/bills they give is different regarding that are you going to US or not. Eg. they give worse quality of bills if you are going to US that them are taken out of circulation or changed to newer ones in US banks. Does anyone have any factual information about this? It would be interesting to know.

  • 1
    What amounts are you exchanging? I.e., are you hitting a money laundering trigger like USD 10,000?
    – Gayot Fow
    Nov 2, 2014 at 14:19
  • No, something like 500-700 USD. Nov 2, 2014 at 14:20
  • 2
    Could it be that they want to cross-sell you an associated product or service - e.g. insurance, money-on-plastic-card, whatever - and the product/service is different for different countries? (or unavailable for some countries)
    – A E
    Nov 2, 2014 at 18:03
  • 1
    What is the country, in which this happens?
    – Jake
    Nov 2, 2014 at 19:02
  • 1
    It could have been possible that they would have liked to sell associated products and services. Good point. Happened in Finland. Nov 2, 2014 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


Two factors I can think of. In the US, of course any quality or denomination of notes will be accepted anywhere (except perhaps in rare instances which I have never encountered). In some countries however:

  • They may not accept notes that are not absolutely pristine. Example: Burma. (Why this is the case or whether this makes any sense at all, I do not know. What I do know is that this is the practice there.)

  • They may not accept small denominations. E.g. they may accept only $100 notes. Or, even if they do accept smaller denominations, you may get much poorer rates for them.

Hence, your money-changer may want to know where you are going, as a favor to you. If you're going to the US, maybe they'll just hand you whatever they have, since it won't matter; perhaps they'll hand you a huge stack of old $1 bills (provided you don't mind). But if you're going to Burma, maybe they'll want to make sure to give you only brand new $100 bills.

  • Most SE Asian countries want new or at least banknotes in great condition. This started when the USA introduced the first big head bills. Counterfeiters dumped their stocks of old style bills on Asian markets. This in turn forced in the banks to limit exchange services only to the new style bills. While it is likely not essential anymore, the new bills / undamaged bills policy seems to remain in force.
    – user13044
    Nov 3, 2014 at 7:52
  • 1
    I think you mean that they "may not accept notes that are not absolutely pristine." Nov 3, 2014 at 17:46
  • @MichaelHampton: Thanks, corrected that typo.
    – user8803
    Nov 3, 2014 at 17:51
  • It's not uncommon to see signs in some restaurants and stores that say they won't accept $50 bills or notes over $50. But so few people carry those on a daily basis that it's rarely a problem.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 3, 2014 at 21:21

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