RUSSIA EXPERIENCE AND VOLUNTEERING
SVEZHY VETER Travel Agency
426008 Izhevsk Karla Marxa 288a
mail: 426033 Izhevsk
p.o.box 2040 Russia
tel: +7 (3412) 450037, 613080
+7 909 064 69 95 Contact us
Banks and Currency Exchange
The money in circulation:
1 Rouble = 100 Copeicas
Apart from the economic crisis of 1998, the Rouble exchange rate has been predictable and reasonably stable in the past five years. It does shrink gradually but not awfully much.
Back in '98, in less than 10 days, the Russian currency went down from 6 Roubles against the American Dollar down to 20. It has gained about 10% in the past 10 months and is currently being amazingly strong (probably explained by huge oil sales and a very favorable crude oil market situation).
Changing money is rarely a problem while in Russia. Almost every place, even a smallest town, has a bank or a currency exchange office. Naturally, it is not always the case in the tiniest remote Siberia or mountain villages, but, generally, if the town is greater than 1000 inhabitants, a legal money exchange will not pose a problem. The exchange rates do not vary much from place to place, but if one can spare an hour on looking around, he or she might get, per 100 US$, a dollar or so worth more than originally found.
The American dollars are probably the most widely accepted currency all over Russia, but, logically the border areas do exchange the money of the neighboring countries. Two or three hundred kilometers away from the border one may find serious difficulties trying to exchange the neighbors valuables :)
The Euro is accepted in the majority of big cities, but is less stable and not as popular as the US Dollar.
The British Pound and Swiss Frank are holding, accordingly, the third and forth places in the Russian Currency Market Hit Parade. One would be extremely lucky to be able to exchange those out of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Not 100% hopeless, though.
Normally, the rate, placed near the exchange office, is what is to be received, no commission or anything. Buying currency back is absolutely no problem too.
Traveller's cheques can be cashed at the commission of 2 or 3% (available only in major cities and far not at every bank). American Express is probably the most difficult to get money for. The cheques are usually paid in their original currency less the the commission. Otherwise one gets the equivalent in roubles at the current purchase exchange rate of the bank where he or she is cashing the cheque.
Credit cards are relatively widely accepted in Russia (practically only VISA or MASTER CARD). Payment with a credit card may sometimes incur a surcharge of a couple of per cents, so make sure you know if there are surcharges before you decide to run your card.
Counting on credit card payments in Russia is quite risky and still a little overoptimistic, although much more places accept credit cards now than it used to be 2 or 3 years ago. The situation is quickly improving with every day.
Withdrawing cash appears to be pretty straightforward and is done by practically every bank.
Some banks impose a commission on top of your transaction, so it always makes sense to withdraw your cash not with an ATM, but directly at a bank with a clerk there. Using ATMs sometimes can be risky as one may easily lose the card in the machine or get overcharged without even knowing it.
Generally, the rules vary from bank to bank: some commission the ATM transactions, some - only the direct office withdrawal, some have no commission on both.
When using a card for payment, it is always worth asking the place staff whether they have any additional charges, which in a number of cases they will, and you will end up paying significantly more then if you did the same in cash.
The currency exchange black market does not exist the way it used to exist years ago. The exchange rate offered by strangers most of the time is no more than 1-2% better, but the risk to be robbed or cheated, clearly overweighs the benefit. We strongly do not recommend changing money with the black market. The only case one may consider the 'out-of-bank-exchange', is with your friends in Russia or somebody you know very well, as there still is a number of people that prefer keeping their savings in dollars, trying to somehow protect themselves against inflation (the old bad times habit is a legacy of many) or need dollars for their travelling. Nobody would ever offer more than 2% above the official Central Bank Exchange Rate, if this happens, one needs to be particularly careful!
It is absolutely no problem to wire money in or out of the country: TT, Western Union, MoneyGram. Most of the time the commission is 10-25$ for the funds sent out and 2% or nothing for the funds received in. All this only concerns the transactions done as a person, not as a company. If it is a business, getting or sending money is MUCH more complicated, for, what seems to us, absolutely no reason.Back to top
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