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I am Canadian and have been working in Japan for the past year. I am leaving Japan next week and travelling to New Zealand. I have wired most of my money home to my Canadian bank account, but will have about 60000 yen (~$600) when I go to the airport.

I want to exchange ALL of my Japanese cash for New Zealand dollars, should I exchange at Haneda Airport or in Auckland?

Is Japan more likely to have small NZD bills or is New Zealand more likely to accept small JPY bills?

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    I would just comment, Hayley, you just always get a horrible rates and horrible problems, dealing with the "last few hundred $". It's hardly even worth worrying about - which ever end you choose you'll get ripped-off and suffer inconvenience. The key elements as everyone has pointed out are that (1) you simply can't give small notes/coins at the "other" end, and you can't get small notes/coins at "this" end. You simply won't be able to change it all anyway. Recall too you'll need cash for to/at the airport etc. so you can't really "get rid of the last few yen" until you get on the plane. :/ – Fattie Apr 21 '16 at 14:58
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    I'd strongly recommend: just keep the Yen for the next time you're there! it's a great "saving plan". its happy news in a couple years when for some reason you are travelling to Japan, and you suddenly remember you have an envelope in the drawer with a few hundred $ worth of Yen, including handy small denominations - its great! – Fattie Apr 21 '16 at 14:59
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    Why not both? Exchange whatever you can in Japan, then take the small notes and exchange in New Zealand. – Zack Apr 21 '16 at 15:52
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    @HayleyGuillou Okay no worries, it happens to us all! – curiousdannii Apr 22 '16 at 0:34
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    hi @MartinArgerami ! sure, you can use cards. But if you have some currency left over, a good idea is to "get rid of" that currency for your final needs such as taxi, coffees, buy magazines etc. Cheers! – Fattie Apr 22 '16 at 14:41
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The usual rule of thumb is you get a better rate at the destination, but it never hurts to check beforehand. Look online for the "sell" rate of NZ Dollars from a Japanese bank and the "buy" rate for Japanese Yen at a NZ bank. Then do the math.

If you choose Japan, the exchange service may not have small denomination NZ currency and definitely no coins, so they will exchange however much fits into the notes they have onhand and give you back the rest in Yen.

If you choose New Zealand, I would try to swap your coins and notes for the biggest denomination Yen notes you can get before leaving Japan, rather than show up with a fist full of small notes.

Any coins you have leftover should be spent at the airport or deposited into a charity box.

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    What charity box? Isn't it expected of you to give foreign coins to friends as souvenirs? – Dmitry Grigoryev Apr 21 '16 at 14:49
  • @DmitryGrigoryev - Many international airports have charity boxes you can drop your leftover coins in. The organization that benefits is usually noted on the box. As for giving coins to friends, I suppose that would depend on the culture in your area, it certainly isn't expected where I live. – user13044 Apr 21 '16 at 15:19
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In a lot of countries it's possible to ask your regular bank that has your bank account to procure currency for you. The exchange rate is usually pretty fair, compared to a tourist money exchange. This process often takes a day or too.

Since you worked in Japan, you probably have a local bank account. I would suggest to talk to them, tell them how much money you have left, and ask them to get you as much NZD as possible. That is convenient because as a bank they will also happily exchange your coins for local bills without a fuss.

Any leftover coins I would either put in a charity box or hand to a homeless person.


I looked at two Japanese banks that have English websites for a chat option to verify if this works, but couldn't find one. Their FAQ also didn't help.

  • Thanks, this is very good advice! I would have used my Japanese bank account, but I have extenuating circumstances in which I am getting paid in cash immediately before going to the airport. – Hayley Guillou Apr 21 '16 at 23:46
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Currency exchanges do not seem to deal in foreign coins, at least here in New Zealand (I've exchanged US dollars and Japanese yen, personally). The exchange rate will also differ depending on exactly what exchange you use.

If you're trying to maximize the amount of NZD that you receive, definitely check the exchange rates offered by various currency exchanges, as other answers suggest.

If you're trying to end up with as close to 0 JPY as possible, then denominations and coinage matter. If you exchange your money in Japan, you will be able to spend Japanese coins, but most likely only in increments of NZ $5 (or larger, if the exchange does not stock small notes). If you exchange your money in New Zealand, you will be able to buy NZ coins, but you can only spend in increments of ¥1000. So, you would want to try to spend or convert your Japanese coins before departure, and then once in New Zealand you can convert any remaining Japanese bank notes into New Zealand bank notes and coins.

Note also that the ¥500 coin is currently worth more than the smallest NZ bank note (NZ $5) - if you end up with large coinage in Japan, it might be possible to exchange that for NZD, if you find an exchange which deals in small transactions and carries the NZ $5 note. If you wanted to do everything in a single transaction, exchanging on the Japanese side would then leave a smaller maximum remainder (somewhere between ¥350 and ¥400 might be left over if you exchange in Japan, whereas in New Zealand you could be stuck with as much as ¥999 - or more, if you didn't exchange coins for notes).

The one piece of info I don't have is whether Japanese currency exchanges deal with small New Zealand bank notes. I know that my bank sells ¥1000 notes, but I don't know whether Japanese exchanges would offer NZ $5 or $10 notes.

  • Currency exchanges do not deal in foreign coins, because coins are heavy and low value. They don't want to end up with 50 kg of 1¥ coins that they would have to pay to repatriate. There are some high-value coins that would otherwise be worth their while, if it were worth it to establish coin-handling procedures to begin with, which it isn't. – Malvolio Apr 22 '16 at 0:04
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The best option is to sell them to someone else that is going to Japan, or use them if you got any fiends that want you to buy them rice cookers.

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