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Russian money

Russian money (5)

Information on Russian currency and how to keep your money - Cash, Travelers Cheques, Credit Cards in Russia

The official currency of Russia is the Ruble (RUB), divided into 100 kopeks. Coins are issued in 1, 5, 10, and 50 kopek and 1, 2, 5, and 10 ruble denominations. Banknotes come in 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 ruble values. The 1 and 5 kopek coins are of little use, as their value is low; in many stores prices are rounded up to the nearest 10 kopeks and many people refuse to accept these coins.

Rubles only: All payments in Russia are officially made in rubles. Payment is made in Rubles at all shops while some smaller owner operated shops and stalls may still allow foreign currency (USD or Euro). The legal tender for all payments is the Ruble and foreign currency is not supposed to be accepted for payments.  Supermarkets, restaurants and all major stores will not even consider foreign currency, but most will have either a money changer very close by or possibly a money changing machine in the vicinity.

Friday, 18 March 2011 08:59

Money Transfer

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The most widespread international system of money transfer in Russia is Western Union. The transfer can be made through almost any bank and it takes only 20 minutes. There's a commission for the transfer.  Citizens of the United States, Canada, and some EU countries can make a Western Union transfer through the internet, using their credit card 

Another relatively wide spread money-transfer system in Russian is MoneyGram (mostly in Moscow and St. Petersburg)

Both Western Union and MoneyGram charge quite much for their services, so you may consider using other cheaper options. Normally, they take longer, but commission is much lower

There's also a local money transfer system called Contact.  They seem to have very low commission (2-3%)

Friday, 18 March 2011 08:36

Credit cards

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There're many cash machines (ATM's) in Moscow, St. Petersburg and major Siberian cities, and a lot of shops and restaurants accept cards in the big cities. They usually offer services in multiple languages, and some give out U.S. dollars. We recommend making withdrawals in Russian rubles to avoid the hassles of exchanging currency. Don’t worry – ATMs use a favorable exchange rate. In smaller towns and villages they are often difficult to find or non-existent. If you don't know where to look for an ATM ("bankomat" in Russian), go to any big and expensive hotel. However, it's better if you withdraw your money in the cash machine, which is at some bank's office, in that case if your card gets swallowed you'll deal with the problem faster. It's better to avoid street ATMs (or at least to be very careful), as sometimes swindlers attach spy devices to them, to get your PIN and card details; the safest option is the ATMs in hotels, banks or big shopping centers.Train Stations outside of major cities only accept rubles also. In Moscow and St Petersburg you can pay by card at some ticket counters - look out for the Visa/Master Card stickers on the windows. The ATM machines at the train station are often out of cash, so obtain your rubles in the city (where ATM's appear on practically every corner) before you go to the train station

Usually banks charge 0 to 1% commission if you withdraw money with the card of the other (foreign) bank, but your bank - the issuer of the card - will take from $2 to $5 US for this operation. Russian ATMs will often limit withdrawals to about USD$1,000 per day

Visa, MasterCard are accepted almost in any ATM, Visa Electron and Cirrus / Maestro - more rarely, and AMEX and Diners Club owners might have problems cashing the cards  

Important: Call your bank before you depart and let them know that you will be traveling so they do not block your cards while you are in Russia (not all banks do this, but we recommend that you look into it). We also recommend that you bring more than one card should one of the cards get locked

Thursday, 17 March 2011 15:55

Travelers' Checks

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Travelers' Cheques is probably the most secure way of keeping your money: you are the only one who can cash the cheques and if lost they can be reissued - just write down the numbers beforehand and keep them separate from the cheques. The problem is that in Russia you can refund them only in banks, which are opened only from 9 until 17. The banks charge commission for refunding the cheques (about 2-3%) and for buying the cheques - usually 1%. The most widely accepted cheques in Russia are American Express and more rare - Thomas Cook. Please, note, that you cannot pay with travelers cheques in Russia, you can only withdraw money from them in banks. Also, the recent customs regulations make it necessary to declare the cheques when you enter Russia.

Thursday, 17 March 2011 15:54


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It's better to have some cash ($200-400 US - just enough for initial expenses - transport, accommodation, food) when you come to Russia and the rest – on your credit card. If you're going to small towns, cruises, tours or to the countryside, it's better to take cash only, because you might have problems cashing the cards or travelers' cheques.

Cash is used much more often than the cards, and if you're outside of the big cities, take cash only because it will be hard to cash the cards or cheques. It's better if the cash is in US dollars or Euros, because that's the currency you'll be able to change everywhere in Russia.

If you have any other currency, then it might be hard to find an exchange office, and the rate won't be in your favor. Better change your money in US dollars or Euro beforehand.

Also, the exchange rates of USD and Euro to the Ruble is better in Moscow and St. Petersburg. If you change your money in Siberia, for example, you'll lose about 3%.

Thursday, 17 March 2011 15:53

Currency exchange

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It's very easy to find currency exchange offices throughout Russia. The two major currencies for cash conversion in Russia are USD and Euro.  Money changers will generally have a sign in front of their store showing their exchange rates and that will also be the currencies that they will deal with

Banks and small currency exchange bureaus offer very good rates; hotels are generally expensive and thus not recommended. You need to show your passport at banks. Be sure to take your time to count how much money you got - different ways are sometimes used to trick the customer. Small window-in-the-wall offices abound in Moscow and Saint Petersburg but are rare in other cities. They usually offer better exchange rates but don't require identification nor provide any receipts in most cases. Branches of banks are more trustworthy for not-so-attractive rates, and exchange session would last longer requiring a passport and giving you all the receipts you can imagine. Window-in-the-wall exchanges frequently attract clients by declaring rates for amounts >$1000 / >EUR1000 (but stating this in small font). Rates for smaller amounts are demonstrated only in the window itself and are typically less attractive than even at regular banks. Frequently, people don't notice that rates are different

Always check the amounts you are given. You will have easier time changing money if your banknotes are absolutely clean, and dollars should be the most recent updated design, as few places will accept the older versions

Don't change money on the street. You can exchange money at the airport, but we advise against this as airport exchange rates are usually high. Using an ATM at the airport in Russia when you arrive is the best options or, if you have someone meeting you at the airport and can afford to wait, you can use the ATM at the hotel. Banks are also available to exchange currency.