All payments conducted on the territory of Russia are made in rubles. However, in many stores you may find the prices indicated in the foreign currency or so-called standard units, which are usually equal to the U.S. dollar. The exchange rate for a ruble has lately stabilized and currently around 28 rubles will get you 1 U.S. dollar.
Foreign currency can be exchanged for rubles at commercial banks, exchange offices, and hotels; generally at any place with the inscription Currency exchange. Stay away from anyone approaching you offering to exchange money privately for a better rate – you will be scammed.
Most hotels and larger stores in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other large cities now accept major credit cards. You do, however, want to keep every credit card receipt and keep it until you are able to compare it with the credit card statement. Russia is a champion of credit card fraud: it is very likely that after you charge a dinner to your card at a restaurant, that number will be copied and used even after you leave Russia.
TippingTipping is generally not required in Russia, but it becomes popular in large cities with many foreign visitors. Usually, you only want to tip when the service was good and no more than 15%. A 10% tip at a restaurant would be normal, unless you enjoyed your service very much and want to leave more.
Getting MoneyThe easiest way to get rubles is to change U.S. dollars, or, to a lesser-extent, Deutsche marks. Russians tend to keep their savings in dollars hidden under their mattresses, so the country is filled with “obmen valyuti,” or exchange booths. These foot soldiers of the Russian economy are about two to a corner in most major cities and usually have better rates than banks. Other currencies can be exchanged in Moscow and St. Petersburg, although not as readily or as cheaply.
ATMs are widely available in Moscow, St. Petersburg and to a lesser extent in other big cities.
During the fall of 1999 and the winter of 2000 there were reports of theft from accounts in which a card had been used in a Russian ATM. Banks and credit card companies say they have since taken steps to increase security. One way to avoid ATM fraud is to take your ATM card to a teller window and get a cash advance. This is often a more expensive than using an ATM, but some banks charge little or no commission.
The Russian Currency - Rubles
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 current exchange rate is 26 roubles to 1 US dollar, 34 Rubles to 1 Euro, and about 50 Rubles to 1 pound sterling.
For exact rates you can use the online currency converters at http://www.xe.net/pca/ (pop-up converter) or http://www.oanda.com or see the Central Bank exchange rates at http://conv.rbc.ru (in Russian).
It's not legal to use US dollars or Euro for transactions in Russia. However, you'll still see a lot of prices marked in Y.E. (which means "units" and usually equals the current US dollar or Euro rate). That is the relic of the 90s, when hyperinflation made it impossible to put the prices in Rubles. However, you will still have to pay with rubles in most cases. Generally, foreign currencies are usually used for "under-the-table" transactions, which are not going to be declared. So, you won't be able to use US dollars, Euro, or any other currency in a shop, cafe, or to pay to a service provider, unless he is OK exchanging it on your behalf.
Having said that, many Russians still have their savings in US dollars or Euro, partly because of the old tradition, partly because many get their salaries in foreign currencies, 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).
Money Transfer Services in RussiaThe most widespread international system of money transfer in Russia is Western Union. The transfer can be madethrough almost any bank and it takes only 20 minutes. There's a commision for the transfer, for example, for 300$they'll charge around 50$. The information phone number of Western Union in Moscow is (095) 797-2194.
Citizens of the United States and Canada can make a Western Union transfer through the internet, using theircredit card. See details on WU's website at http://www.westernunion.com/
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.
Contact System - Unites several banks in Russia and abroad. Quite cheap way of transferring money.Comission 2-3% only. Find a branch in your city on their website, come there and send money to anotheravailable branch.
+7 (812) 312-19-44
from 11:00 till 19:00
|Tel.: +7 (812) 913-08-32|