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The official Russian currency is Rubles (rub`li). One rouble ( o`din rubl') consists of 100 kopeek (1 kopeika - od`na (one) ko`peika). The exchange rate is 75 roubles to 1 US dollar, 84 Rubles to 1 Euro (rate on Feb 26th. 2016). You can use the online currency converters at www.xe.com for exact rates.

 

 

Where and How to Change your Money

You would find lots of exchange offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but try to find the ones, which look good and offer reasonable rates. You can simply recognize them with huge digits on normally yellow background. In the smaller cities, like Novgorod, Vladimir, Yaroslavl, there are much less exchange offices, and the place to change money is a bank.

Usually, there are no commissions if you change dollars to roubles, but if you do vice-versa, they'll charge you 1-2%. Always check how much you've got, while you are in front of the cashier.

Never change money on the street, because you might get defrauded. "Exchange office" in Russian language sounds "ob`men va`lyuty". Exchange offices at the airports and railway stations offer slightly lower exchange rate. Some exchange offices advertise a very promissing exchange rate but it is normally for amounts above $1000. Watch your money!

 

It is illegal to use any other foreighn currency for transactions in Russia.

Having said that, many Russians still have their savings in US dollars or Euro, partly because of the old tradition, partly because they still don't trust in Ruble's stability, so you'll often find that you'll be able to pay to a private person with US dollars or Euro (depending which currency this person trusts better).

 It's better to have some cash ($250 - just enough for initial expenses - transport, accommodation, food) when you come to Russia and the rest in the traveler's cheques and cards. If you're going to small towns, cruises, tours or to the countryside, it's better to take cash only. You might have problems cashing the cards or travelers' cheques.

Cash cash cash. It 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.

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. In the Practicalities sections of our city guides, we provided the addresses of banks, which accept AMEX, Visa, Thomas Cook and other cheques. Their commission rates are usually 2 to 3% for cashing.

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.

Credit Cards. There're many ATMs in Moscow, St. Petersburg and major Russian cities, and a lot of shops and restaurants accept cards in the big cities. However, as soon as you go to smaller towns, you'll find it hard to use your credit card.

cards

If you don't know where to look for an ATM, 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. See banks and cash machines (ATMs) addresses in Practicalities section of the city guides.

Usually banks charge 0 to 3% commission if you withdraw money with the card of the other (foreign) bank, but your bank - the issuer of the card - will take from $3 to $5 US for this operation. In most of the cases you'll receive rubles, some ATMs dispense rubles as well.

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.

 

Emergency cases and security preventives.

It's good to write down beforehand the numbers of all the traveler's cheques and cards you have with the emergency number, so that in case something is stolen you can block it.

From my personal experience, I know that it's better to divide the amount you have in three parts and store them separately. It's better if the three parts you have are all different: one-third of cash, one-third in travelers' cheques, one-third in travelers' cards.

If everything you had is stolen you can ask somebody to make a money transfer for you (through Western Union for example) to the bank you choose.

Otherwise you can go to your country's embassy and maybe they will help you.

In case your credit card or traveler's cheques are stolen or lost you should call the issuer of the card or cheque to block it. Below we provide emergency phone numbers in Moscow.

If everything you had is stolen you can ask somebody to make a money transfer for you (through Western Union for example) to the bank you choose.

Otherwise you can go to your country's embassy and maybe they will help you. Anyway, not to get in big trouble try to store some amounts in cheques and cards and put them all in different places, so that if something is stolen you still have a backup.

Lost & Stolen Credit Cards Emergency Numbers: AMEX offices in Moscow: (495) 933-6636 (from 9.00 to 17.00), and in St. Petersburg (812) 329-6060 (from 9.00 till 17.00). Amex, Visa, MasterCard, Diners', JCB cards center in Moscow: (495) 956-3556 (24 hours a day).