West Shore resident Mark Collins was off to the U.K. to visit his family for a few weeks.
His father had given him British pounds that had been exchanged from a bank in Greater Victoria shortly before Collins left on his trip.
Upon his arrival in the U.K., Collins went to the grocery store and when he went to pay, he pulled out a banknote his father had given him, but the cashier said the money couldn’t be accepted because it was out of circulation. Collins pulled out another note, with the same result. He came to find out that all of the banknotes he had were no good.
Collins tried to exchange the outdated banknotes at a post office, travel agency and a bank, but none of them could help him. He said that the teller at the bank told him he needed to have an account at the bank to trade his banknotes for current ones.
He didn’t know if the Canadian bank his father got the British pounds from was unaware that the notes were out of circulation or not.
“I was a little surprised,” he said, because he presumed that all financial institutions exchanged money that is in circulation, so it never occurred to him to check before he left.
Collins said he even tried exchanging his banknotes in an old casino in Blackpool – the Las Vegas of Britain – and each of 20 machines he tried, spat his money back out.
Fortunately, one of his family members in the U.K. went to her bank and traded the banknotes for him.
“If I didn’t have family over there, I don’t know how I’d do it,” he said.
Collins said he wanted to share his experience as a traveller’s tip so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
In the age where tourists rarely carry travellers cheques, credit or debit card can be used, but there are some places that will only accept cash.
A representative from the Coastal Community Credit Union in Langford – not the institution that exchanged Collins’ money – suggested travellers do a Google search to find the official bank website of the country they are travelling to.
Once they have exchanged currency, the representative suggested double checking the official bank website to make sure what they have received is still in circulation.