In this section you will find general information and advice on currency exchange, as well as recommendations on money transfers abroad and how to use banks and ATMs.
In the Russian Federation, currency can be exchanged in bank institutions both by residents and non-residents, without any restrictions. Money can be exchanged in a typical bank branch or a specialized currency exchange office. As a rule, all currency exchange offices provide conversion of rubles to and from US dollars and Euros. In Moscow, at large bank branches it is also possible to exchange Swiss francs, pounds sterling, Ukrainian hryvnias and other currencies. There are several general rules of exchange:
- You have to present a valid Identity Document (most likely your passport).
- Exchange of an amount equal to or exceeding RUR 600 000 is considered a substantial financial transaction, therefore the bank is obliged to pass on the information about it to the Federal Financial Monitoring Service.
- Keep in mind the customs limits for currency import and export. You have to declare any sum that exceeds the equivalent of USD 10 000 when importing and the equivalent of USD 3 000 when exporting.
- All banks must issue a receipt when you exchange currency. The receipt must contain the information on the commission that you’ve paid as well as the current exchange rate.
Practical advice on currency exchange procedure:
- The acceptable exchange rate for US dollars and euros should be within 2% difference from the current rate set by the Central Bank of Russia. Normally, you should not be charged any extra commission for the exchange service.
- Beware of currency exchange offices in the most crowded or touristy places or close to the metro stations. Tourists are their main source of income. This is how the schemes of getting this additional income work:
– the exchange rate indicated on the information board in the street is not the one that is actually offered. For example, it can turn out that the exchange rate shown outside is valid for amounts over USD5000 only, and for smaller amounts the rate will be higher by 10%.
– extra commission is charged for the exchange service.
For this reason we strongly recommend either completing all your currency transaction in the branches of larger well-known banks or carefully checking the terms and ask the cashier to show you the amount that you will receive upon completion of your transaction. It is best to avoid exchange offices where the displayed sell rate and buy rate difference is no greater than 0.5%. Just think logically, how would they earn money then? Surely they do not work for free.
- Before starting a transaction, tell the cashier that you need a receipt upon completion. A reliable bank will give it to you either way, however a refusal means that something is not right.
- Generally at the airports the, exchange rates are 5-10% higher than the Central Bank of the Russian Federation rate. You will usually get a much better deal in any bank branch in the city.
- Try not to exchange lump sums of money (over USD5000) at once without any real necessity. Do not make it obvious to anybody (be it an exchange office representative, or casual visitors) that you are carrying a large amount of cash.
INTERNATIONAL MONEY TRANSFERS
Global providers such as Western Union (www.westernunion.com), Moneygram (www.moneygram.com) are widespread in Russia. In Moscow these two companies have approximately 5000 locations in collaboration with dozens of banks, Russian Post, mobile service stores. You can send in either rubles or dollars if sending it via the bank, and rubles only if you are sending it via non-bank providers. The recipient will be able to pick the money within 15 minutes after the completion of the transaction during working hours of the participating provider worldwide. You will need to fill out a form and usually very little recipient information is required. A valid passport must be presented when sending or receiving the money transfer. For more details about the money-transfer services please visit the provider’s website.
If it is an emergency and you have no way of getting the information online, then during working hours within 200 meters proximity of any central metro station you will be able to find at least one of the money transfer service providers. Pay attention to stickers with logos of money transfer systems on doors of banks and post offices, as well as mobile service stores.
BANKS AND ATMs
A wide variety of bank branches as well as the leading global card payment systems (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express) operate in Russia.
In most cases you will easily find many options for cash withdrawal in Moscow. Also you can pay by card at most shops and restaurants. The overwhelming majority of ATMs dispense rubles only, therefore if you need to withdraw currency other than rubles you need to check in advance whether the ATM is able to accommodate this. It is worth checking the website of foreign banks in Moscow. Generally, their websites will have an English version.
- Visa and Mastercard are the most accepted cards in Russia. It is best to have one к both of these cards with you.
- Smaller cafés and shops, street food vendors and souvenir stalls do not usually have a card terminal. So you will need some cash in case you would like to purchase something in one of these places.
- ATMs are located in bank branches, in the street, in public places (supermarkets, metro, railway stations). For security reasons it is best is to use an ATMs located at one of the bank branches, as in some cases there is a possibility of card fraud devices being installed in outdoor ATMs.
- Generally, ATMs belonging to large banks have an English interface. Rosbank ATMs (Societe Generale Group) have English and French interface while ATMs of Unicredit bank have English and Italian interface.
- When planning your trip, find out from your bank what commission will be charged for withdrawing cash using your bank card in Russian ATMs, and if there are partner banks that offer lower rates. The majority of ATMs display the commission rate for withdrawal that will be charged by the Russian bank, but they cannot show the commission rate that will be charged by your bank.
Below is a list of TOP banks in Russia according to the amount of assets (these banks also have large branch networks in Moscow), as well as a list of foreign bank subsidiaries that can be found in Russia. This information will help you chose the most secure bank with good service:
Sberbank (Сбербанк – rus.). The bank is controlled by the state and is the absolute leader with 3000 branches and ATMs in Moscow.
VTB and VTB24 (ВТБ and ВТБ24 – rus.). The banks are controlled by the state and have 600 branches and ATMs in Moscow.
Gazprombank (Газпромбанк – rus.). The bank is controlled by the state.
Rosselkhozbank (Россельхозбанк – rus.). The bank is controlled by the state.
FK Otkritie (ФК Открытие – rus.). The bank is private.
Alfa-bank (Альфа-банк – rus.). The bank is private.
Bank of Moscow (Банк Москвы – rus.). The bank is controlled by the state.
Below are listed subsidiaries of foreign banks, including their websites:
– UniCredit Bank: UniCredit Group, Italy (ЮниКредит банк – rus.). The bank has about 200 ATMs and branches in Moscow. http://www.unicreditbank.ru/eng/index.wbp
– Rosbank: Societe Generale Group, France (Росбанк – rus.). The bank has about 300 ATMs and branches in Moscow. http://www.rosbank.ru/en/
– RaiffeisenBank: Raiffeisen Group, Austria (РайффайзенБанк – rus.). The bank has about 400 ATMs and branches in Moscow. http://www.raiffeisen.ru/en/
– Nordea bank: Nordea Group, Sweden (Нордеа Банк – rus.). https://www.nordea.ru/en/private/index.php
– Citibank: Citibank Group, USA (Ситибанк – rus.). https://www.citibank.ru/russia/main/eng/home.htm© 2016-2017 moscovery.com