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FAQs about money


Here are some common questions and answers that I've been asked about money in Russia.

What currency do we need to get before we arrive in St. Petersburg?

I personally do not think that you really need to bring any Russian rubles. They are difficult and expensive to obtain outside of Russia. Instead I suggest bringing cash in the form of euros or dollars, plus a bank card to withdraw money from ATMs. Visa card or Mastercard are both widely supported.

Other currencies and travelers checks can be rather difficult to exchange and so I recommend that if at all possible you don't bring them.

If you bring a bank card then please check with your bank that it will operate abroad. Some banks block foreign transactions as a fraud prevention measure unless you notify them in advance. I would also advise you against relying on just one card. It is possible to lose it or have some technical problems withdrawing cash, so I would recommend bringing another card or some quantity of cash as a backup.

Credit cards, while slowly increasing in popularity, still aren't widely accepted in may places in Russia, cash remains the most popular form of payment - and in many cases the only form of payment.

I would expect you to pay for almost everything in Russian rubles - most shops, restaurants, museums etc. don't take foreign currency. Some hotels do, but you are likely to get a poor exchange rate.

As I mentioned earlier it is highly advisable to bring cash in either euros or US dollars. Our banks are extremely fussy when accepting banknotes. Unfortunately this can be to a level of paranoia. Any small stains, marks, tears, missing corners etc. will be used as an reason to reject a banknote - so please only bring perfect unmarked bills, otherwise you may waste time looking for a bank or exchange bureau that will take them (usually at a bad exchange rate too).

When is tipping appropriate or expected and what are the guidelines?

Unlike in the USA tipping here is a way to encourage someone who tries his best rather that a duty. If for example to take restaurants I do not think that tips will amount to any serious money. In local cafés we leave about 100 rubles (3 euros) for the whole party and in the nice restaurant - about 10% of the bill. It is not obligatory, particularly if the waiter was not especially caring or attentive.

What is the estimated amount of money I need for food?

I am not sure if you plan any nice restaurants or only local places which are reasonable in price and tasty. Let us say - minimum is 18 euros per person per day (though it can be more or less than that).

 +Tatiana Collins+