I have some "leftover" pounds that don't do me any good in the US. Will anyone take them in Switzerland or Germany? I don't expect a great exchange rate, but if it's better than exchanging in the US, I might consider taking/spending them over there. I don't plan to go to the UK any time soon, so no reason to save them.
In a word - No
All you can do is exchange them in an exchange office (notes only no coins). I do not know whether you will get a better or worse rate than in the US.
When I was in Switzerland last I saw many touristy shops with signs saying they would take pounds, dollars, euros, and yen. No rates were posted and I didn't inquire since I had Swiss francs, so you should be able to do something with them.
There is always the exchange booth at the airport. They will probably give you a better rate that a shop would.
Or you could find a friend going to the UK soon who would like to have a few pounds on arrival and is willing to pay the Google rate for them. ;-)
Or hold on to them -are you never going to go to the UK again?
Or donate them to an international charity which might be able to put them to good use in UK.
I have some "leftover" pounds that don't do me any good in the US
They won't do you any good in the US. Why would they do you any good in Germany or Switzerland? Just like the US, neither accept British pounds as currency.
Exchange your leftover currency at a currency exchange. Yes it's a bad rate, but at least you get something useful out of them. Or sell them to a friend or co-worker soon to visit the UK. Or hold on to them for a future visit - even if you don't plan to revisit the UK, you might have layovers at Heathrow.
And from now on spend the leftover currency on your last night's hotel, taxi ride, airport souvenir shop...ALL of these things have better value than bringing home currency or exchanging at some fee-laden low-exchange-rate exchange booth.
It's also possible that a friend or acquaintance will be headed to the UK sometime and would be happy to buy your pounds off of you. Win win for you both.
Erin, if you just want to get rid of them and aren't too concerned about the exchange rate, many of the larger airports have exchange kiosks for multiple monies. I have no idea how the exchange rate would compare to a bank at your home country. For example, Charles de Gaulle airport has one.
Since you live in Edmonds, maybe someone at the Rick Steves' office would be interested in buying them.
I'm sorry to say that they will be as welcome in Germany and Switzerland as much as you would welcome being paid in Washington in Chinese Yuan or Brazilian Real.
I'm sure some Brits travel to Germany and Switzerland and take pounds with them to spend/exchange over there. It can be done.
If you do, you will only have one exchange rate, GBP to euro or francs. If you try to exchange them at a bank over here, I'm pretty sure you'd have to change your pounds to US dollars at a very unfavorable rate (US banks don't want to buy foreign currency), then buy euro or franc - two exchanges. I think airport exchange booths here would be the same.
This is why a take along a net book and use spread sheets to track and predict expenses. The last time I go to the ATM, I know very closely how much cash I need to finish my trip. Not too much left over (except the 200 or so euro I bring home to start the next trip).
Funny, I have two pictures that I took in Prague three years ago that show rate signs in exchange shops. Both show the rate to exchange GBP to Koruna. Odd that they would show that if no one takes British Pounds to the CR. Or is that rate just there for the few Americans who have leftover Pounds with them that they want to exchange?
It's pretty easy to get, say, euro over here, and it's only 1% worse than with a major bank ATM card over there, but since we don't use Pounds here, she would have to pay two exchange rates, Pounds to dollars (at a very bad "sell" rate), then dollars to CHF.
Erin, I'll admit that I have (since I'm now over 60) had currencies get replaced or removed from circulation while my leftover bills were in ziplock bags in my desk. But why not hold on to the pounds?
England is an incredibly popular destination for Americans, especially for those who hate visiting places where "they don't speak English." (Of course no one like that would post on this forum ... !!) I'm suggesting that you might be there again. Have you been to Scotland or Northern Ireland? I've been to England at least six times, and it's not my favorite destination. We're lucky enough to have friends there who my wife met at work. And our most recent visit was to see the Chelsea Flower Show, because we could never make the dates while we were both working. Now we're retired.
Another thing you could do is give them to some friend who calls you for advice about visiting England. I gave my old Czech currency to a niece who was getting a poorly-paid au-pair job in Czech Republic. I'm sure she was glad to have them.
Of course you can exchange British pounds for Czech crowns in Prague and for a better rate than you would do it in London. But you get the best rate by using ATM.
That link helped me a lot to understand more about getting the best exchange rate: http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/money-and-insurance/get-the-best-exchange-rate