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Currency exchange in Russia for tourists


1 Introduction

2 The most important advice

3 Where to make currency exchange in Russia

4 What currencies is easy to exchange in Russia

5 How to find a place where to make exchange

6 Some features of currency exchange in Russia


All the pages of our website are created by Russian journalists. We work hard to provide you with a most valuable and actual information. The English language is not native to us, and we misspell sometimes. If you catch sight of a mistake, then please will not throw tomatoes at us, and leave the comment with the description of the mistake. A comment may be left at the end of every page.

From the first view, currency exchange in Russia seems easy. In Moscow you can find bureau of change and bank near every subway station. In fact, you will possibly meet a few problems.

The most important advice

You should never change currency in Russian airports. The rates are awful. For example, when the official government rate is 50 Russian rubles for one United States dollar, they sell it for 70 and buy for 30. It is terribly.

You not need Russian currency to get out from the airport to a city. Usually, tourists prefer the Aero Express train, and you can pay for ticket by Visa or MasterCard. After arriving to a railway station, you will find a currency exchange bureau with a good rate there.

There is the combined ticket for the Aero Express and the Moscow Subway, and you can also buy it by Visa or MasterCard.

If you ride to your hotel by taxi, you will be better not to change money too. Wait for arriving to hotel and make exchange there. Or, ask the driver to stop near bank or bureau. The driver will be displeased in this case. Do not keep in mind; Russian taxi drivers are always displeased.

Where to make currency exchange in Russia

There are a few main ways. They are hotel services, currency exchange bureaus and banks. According the Russian law, only banks have the exchange license, so, every such place is a subdivision of a bank. The difference is the first two provide only exchange service, and bank branches are also working with credits, deposits, payments and other services.

The exchange bureau rate is always the best. Sometimes, the difference between sale and purchase cost is only 1% or even less. We advise to look for the bureau first of all.

The important recommendation we want to give. You must never change money with private persons, because there are a lot of cheaters, and this operation is illegal.

What currencies is easy to exchange in Russia

The only two foreign currencies are widespread in Russia are Euro and United States dollar.

If you try to exchange some other money in Russia, you will face problems. Bureaus prefer not to have any business with any money but Euro and USD. There are bureaus that change almost every currency, but the rate is terrible. Such bureaus are located at airports and large railroad and bus stations.

The only bank changes many types of currencies is SberBank. The rates are also bad, and the list is different in every branch of Sberbank. In the photo on the left we showed the rate information scoreboard inside one of SberBank offices. As you see, you will lose about 10%.

The conclusion is, if you travel to Russia, then it will be better to take US dollars or Euros with you.

How to find a place where to make exchange

It is easy. We will tell you a little from the history of modern Russia. It was the 90s after the Soviet Union had been collapsed. The Russian economy was weak and our money was becoming cheaper every day. Many of Russian people held the money in US dollars or Deutsche Marks. We want to remind Euro was not existed in the 90s.

Every Russian visited a currency exchange just after receiving the salary, and, of course, everybody wanted to have the best rate. In these days banks and bureaus started to hang the scoreboards with rates to attract customers and show their rate is the best.

The tradition is still alive; on the Russian cities streets you can see such scoreboards until now. If you need to find a currency exchange, then you have to look for boards like in the photo on the right. As you see, the rate is not very profitable, because it is a bank.

Now we have not so many exchanging bureaus like in the 90s, because many people believe in Russian ruble. Unfortunately, the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 showed to the people this idea is stupid.

Not all the bank offices have the scoreboard. You could search for bank branch if you learn how the Russian word “Bank” is looks like.

In the photo on the left we show the word large. You should learn the word starts from the Russian letter “B”, and it looks like different from the Latin letter.

Not all bank branches have the currency exchange service. Some branches work only for companies; some only provide credits or receiving deposits. You should know one thing, if a bank branch provides the exchange service, then it must be the scoreboard inside. There is no scoreboard, there is no the service.

Some features of currency exchange in Russia

Sometimes you can find two sets of rates at the scoreboard of same currency (see photo). In this case, do not be surprised. The better rate is available only if exchanging 1000 USD or Euros at once. As you see in the photo, the rate is profitable, because it us a bureau.

Some of exchanging bureaus take an additional commission. This situation is very bad, because you will know about it only after exchange has done. When such things happen, you think an armored glass protect them not from thieves and robbers, but against the angry customers.

To avoid the problem, act as we Russians; follow the instruction below. Take any banknote and show to the cashier. Ask him/her in Russian “skolko v rubliah?”, that means “how many rubles?”. He/she will show you the digits on the calculator screen. Then you will understand the true rate. Ensure the rate is good for you and make the exchange.

For currency exchange you will need only passport. In some countries you need to issue some documents, but in Russia it is not needed. If you want to change less than 15000 Russian rubles, then even passport is not needed.

Another good advice we want to tell, you should give to the cashier only money you want to change. For example, if you want to change 50 dollars, it will be better to give him/her 50 dollars banknote. Do not try to give 100 dollars banknote and explain you need for exchanging only 50.

It is hard to explain something to the cashier. Even for us Russians it is hard. Sometimes we think these people are malfunctioned robots.

After you have received money, then you must count it. Do not retreat from the place. You must ensure everything right. Do not think cashiers want to cheat you, no, they sometimes count with mistakes. It is another fact shows us they are malfunctioned robots.

The last recommendation we want to give, you should keep a document you will receive with money. In many countries a back currency exchange needs this document, but there are no such limits in Russia. The document will be useful if you find a banknote is fake. In this case you will have the evidence for the police you have nothing to do with this.

We wish you safe and profitable exchange in Russia, and read our other articles (look for links below and on the left from the text of any article).

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Your travel guide is fabulous! I still have to pack, otherwise I"d send some corrections. I love the humor combined with very good advice.

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