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How to Make Use of Your Left-Over Yen

You might have experienced having your pockets heavy with left-over Yen bills and coins, just when you're about to leave Japan for home. You feel like bills are too much to drop into the donation box at the airport. Besides, you might have a chance to visit Japan again.

Though if you take it home with you, it'll only become dead weight...

What to do with this left-over pocket change can be a small but annoying matter we come across when we travel overseas.

If you're facing such situations, why not empty your pockets and feel light with Pocketchange? Pocketchange can turn your heavy pocket change into digital money, gift cards and vouchers!

What is Pocketchange?

Pocketchange provides money exchanging service for both domestic and foreign currencies through their money changers.

You can use Pocketchange money changers to exchange your left-over pocket change into digital money such as Suica, Pasmo, waon, nanaco, App Store & iTunes Giftcard, Amazon Giftcards and more!

Pocketchange currently supports 10 currencies; Japanese Yen, U.S. Dollars, Euro, Chinese Yuan, Korean Won, Hon Kong Dollars, Thai Baht, Taiwan Dollars, Singapore Dollars, and Vietnamese Dong. (Bills only for Hon Kong Dollars, Thai Baht, Taiwan Dollars, Singapore Dollars, Vietnamese Dong, no coins.)

When Pocketchange comes in handy

Say, you've just arrived at the airport from overseas. You can charge your home country curenncies onto your Japanese transportation IC cards, given that you have obtained your account in advance, and you can pop out into the city right from that moment!

Surely, it would be a time-saver if you didn't have to wait in line at the money exchange counter.

When you're on your way home and have some left-over Japanese Yen, you can also charge it onto digital money accounts of your home country. Smart, huh?

If you go through Japan on business trips quite often, you can charge your home country currency onto digital money of your visiting country.

It would not only save time but also inrease efficiency as you could focus on your business from the minute you get off the ramp! Doesn't that sound convenient?

Or, if you are a resident of Japan, you could also drop in your shopping change jangling in your pockets to charge it onto digital money accounts! Then you wouldn't have to carry your coins around with heavy pockets, let alone wear holes into your pockets.

To find out more about which digital money Pocketchange supports over the world, please click HERE to see their list of partners on their website.

How to use

It's quite easy to use Pocketchange money changers provided in airports or shopping facilities. Anyone can charge money onto digital money accounts in just 3 simple steps!

Step 1>>Tap to select the digital money or voucher of your choice.

Step 2>>Insert your bills and coins.

Step 3>>Confirm, finish the process to accept a receipt.

See? Simple!

The receipt you accept will have coupon codes printed on it in case you've chosen giftcards or vouchers to exchange your money.

Check out short movies on how to operate the money changers on Pocketchange's website (scroll down to see the movies).

What you CAN'T DO with Pocketchange

Looks like Pocketchange money changers are pretty convenient however, there are some things you CAN'T DO with these money changers.

Pocketchange money changers only accept cash, NO CREDIT CARDS.

Pocketchange supports 10 currencies; Japanese Yen, U.S. Dollars, Euro, Chinese Yuan, Korean Won, Hon Kong Dollars, Thai Baht, Taiwan Dollars, Singapore Dollars and Vietnamese Dong. But they don't accept coins for Hon Kong Dollars, Thai Baht, Taiwan Dollars, Singapore Dollars, Vietnamese Dong, NO COINS.

Small amount bills and minor bills might NOT BE SUPPORTED by Pocketchange. (You can check the list of bills Pocketchange supports from HERE.)

You CANNOT CHARGE bills and coins the money changer unfortunately couldn't recognize.

Still, I find Pocketchange unique in this point : in case the money changer couldn't read your bills or coins, you can choose what to do with them from the following two options; A) have them returned, or B) donate to UNICEF!

Pocketchange aims to "CHANGE the world with pocket CHANGE". Get it? Cool!

While keeping foreign currencies in Japan is meaningless, I certainly would be happy if my useless coins were used for someone out there in need. The amount of our unread coins may be small in themselves, but together they might be able to really change the world.

About Exchange Rates

The biggest concern when exchanging foreign currency would be the exchange rate, why of course.

On Pocketchange's website it says "The exchange rate will be calculated based on the official foreign currency exchange rate, though it could change depending on which digital money, giftcards or vouchers you exchange to, the currency you insert, the location of our money changer, or in cases we have campaigns." on the Japanees version of their exchange rate page.

Well, well. The important part is where it says, "will be calculated based on the official foreign currency exchange rate". Why, because city banks and money exchange shops usually update their exchange rate ONLY ONCE A DAY based on the foreign currency rate, while Pocketchange updates their exchange rate EVERY HOUR! I couldn't have missed this one no, absolutely not as I read it in an interview of Pocketchange's president.

What it means is that if your timing is right, you can exchange your foreign currency for the best rate!

Added to this, the president has also mentioned "Asian currencies are set to exchange at the best rate." So if you are exchanging Asian currencies, the exchange rate would not only be better than city banks, it would be THE BEST RATE!

There's more. Some of Pocketchange's partners pay a special fee to add on to your digital money when you exchange! Yes, it's true since I've also read this in the president's interview. He didn't mention the names of the partners, though.

For example, let's say you're exchanging 1 U.S. Dollar to charge it onto Suica, when the currency rate is 100 Yen to the U.S. Dollar. If the issuing company of Suica, JR East is paying special fee to Pocketchange, your Suica could be charged 105 Yen although you've only exchanged 1 dollar!

How good could that be?

And guess what? bite-JAPAN is now distributing vouchers with 7-digit numbers that would make your exchange rate even better!

Please scroll down to "Round-Up" for the QR codes to get those numbers and learn how to use them.

Where to Find Pocketchange machines?

So where are these Pocketchange money chnagers located?

Pocketchange says on its website, "Our Pocket Change kiosks are run in airports, travel agencies, shopping centers, and other major metropolitan areas. We are always looking to expand our network and place new machines every month. Please check location specific details such as operation time before visiting."

You can find the specific locations HERE both on a list and a map. A "Kiosk Locator" on Pocketchange's top page can help you find the locations of their money changers on a map.

Also, Pocketchange is currently giving away vouchers for iPhones on their websites that gives you an alert when you get close enough to any of their Pocketchange money changers. If you're an iPhone user, go register right away!


I first heard about Pocketchange from Cow who'd seen about them on TV and thought they were providing good service. That's the reason I wanted to share this information with the viewers of bite-Japan.

I couldn't agree more to Pocketchange's motto of "CHANGE the world with pocket CHANGE" which inspired me together with their unique service to write and introduce them to all of you.

So here's a quick review to wrap it up :

  • Pocketchange provides sevice to exchange your leftover foreign pocket change into digital money.
  • They currently support 10 currencies.
  • You can only exchange/charge CASH. NO CREDIT CARDS acceptable.
  • Only bills are accepted for Hon Kong Dollars, Thai Baht, Taiwan Dollars, Singapore Dollars, Vietnamese Dong, NO COINS.
  • There may be bills that are not acceptable due to their conditions.
  • Unrecognizable currencies CANNOT be exchanged or charged.
  • Currencies that were unfortunately unrecognized can either be RETURNED or DONATED.
  • Pocketchange money changers can be operated by anyone in simple 3 steps.
  • Exchange rates are updated every hour.
  • Asian currencies are set to be exchanged at the BEST RATE.
  • There may be an add-on bonus to your digital money depending on the issuer.
  • Pocketchange money changers can be found in airports, travel agencies, and shopping facilities.
  • You can get yourself a 7-digit voucher code that makes your exchange rate even better from the QR code shown below.
  • Pocketchange is now distributing vouchers for iPhone users that gives alert when you get close to their money changers.

That's about all.

Okay, so here's the voucher QR code you've been waiting for. You can get a 7-digit number when you scan the QR code shown below.

Pocketchange QR code

You will see a confirmation screen in the final stage of your process when using Pocketchange money changers. Tap the button at the bottom of the screen where it says "enter promo code". This action will pull up the screen to enter your 7-digit promo code. Tap in your promo code to reflect your advantaged exchange rate!

I'm not sure when it will actually be or whether it will come true, but there's a vague plan to travel around Europe leisurely spending at least a month. That shall give me a chance to use Pocketchange. Then I might be able to contribute to changing the world although my contribution may be small. I'm looking forward to it, both the trip and the contribution.