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Currency in Russia
The Russian currency is the ruble, which became Russia’s national currency in 1534.The new bank notes (first circulated in 1998) come in denominations of 10, 50,100 and 500 rubles. In 2000, new R1 000, R5 000 and R10 000 notes were introduced. There are 1, 2, 5 ruble coins. As of 2011, the exchange rate has settled to around R28 to the US Dollar; R40 to the Euro; R50 to one pound sterling; R20 to one Canadian dollar; R18 to Australian and Singapore dollar.
For information on currency exchange rates (kypc, pronounced `kurs`), dial 008. Cash the most acceptable form of currency in Russia. Traveler`s checks are not widely accepted. You can convert foreign currency to rubles at the airport or in your hotel. In addition, hundreds of exchange kiosks (Obmen Valyuty) also line streets of big cities. Counterfeit US dollars have flooded Russia; so do not be offended if your dollars are carefully examined. Make sure all bills are in good condition any torn, taped or marked bills may not be accepted. Official exchange offices usually ask for ID, such as a passport or visa (showing a photocopy is acceptable), and the may want stamp your customs declaration form. You can exchange unused rubles at the end of your trip in town at the airport or border. Remember, when you exit your rubles cannot be converted into more hand currency than you entered with!
Traveler`s Checks and Credit Cards
Credit cards are accepted in many banks, hotels, restaurants and shops. However, except in banks, traveler`s checks are not as widely accepted. Bear in mind that most shops, bars and cafes still only accept rubles, and if you can pay in foreign currency you will probably get change in rubles, so always have smaller denomination notes available. The most widely accepted cards are Visa, Mastercard and American Express.
Numerous ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) have sprung up in both cities and be used 24 hours per day. Many major banks and hotels have ATMs or can give cash advances against credit cards with a commission (about three per cent) baset on the amount (always carry your passport and a personal check). When using an ATM to get cash from your bank or credit card, you must know your international PIN number. Most machines allow you to select to receive cash in either dollars or rubles and have an English language guide.
At American Express offices, you can cash traveler`s checks or get cash from your AMEX card (with an approximate 5 per cent commission). You also need a personal check to get cash from a credit card. Make sure you can get the exchange in foreign currency and not all in rubles. They also have a full-service travel bureau. AMEX web-site: www.americanexpress.com
Moscow AMEX Office: 21a Sadovaya – Kudrinskaya Ulitsa, tel. 755–9001.Open Mon-Fri. 9 am – 5 pm; Sat. 9 am – 1 pm (Metro Mayakovskaya). If a credit card or traveler`s checks are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to the United Card Service in Moscow, tel. 956-4806/3556, which can help cancel and replace the items. The Dialog Bank (Hotel Radisson-Slavyanskaya) at 2 Berezhkovskaya Naberezhnaya (Embankment) near Kievsky Metro station, also gives cash advances from AMEX and other credit cards, and cashes traveler`s checks.
St. Petersburg AMEX Office: 23 Malaya Morskaya, tel. 326–4500. Open Mon–Fri 9am-5pm (you can no longer get cash from your card at this office.). The Industry-Construction Bank at 38 Nevsky Prospekt and Alfa–Bank at 6/2 Ekaterininsky Canal (open Mon–Sat 8:30 am – 7:30 pm, Sun 9 am – 3 pm) both cash traveler`s checks and handles credit cards.
Many Russian banks can receive international money transfers. Western Union and Money Gram money transfer offices are also located in both cities.