Russian Money – Everything You Need to Know

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Written By Andrew Shannon

First of all, Russian money is called the Russian Ruble (symbol: ₽, Russian: рубль, currency code: RUB). Each ruble is broken down into 100 kopeks. However, kopeks are in the process of being phased out as 1 ruble is equivalent to 0.015 USD.

In terms of denominations, rubles come in the form of 1, 2, 5, 10 ruble coins and 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2000, 5,000 banknotes. You may come across a 10 ruble banknote on occasion, but it’s rare.

Short video without audio showcasing Russian Rubles including denominations that are no longer in circulation.

As of June 2020 the current exchange rates are:

  • 1 USD – 68,57 RUB
  • 1 EUR – 77,79 RUB
  • 1 GBP – 87,37 RUB

Note: 5,000 RUB banknotes are rarely accepted as shops don’t typically have enough change on hand. At the time of writing this, 5,000 RUB is worth around $75.

If you’re coming to Moscow or Saint Petersburg, cards are widely accepted. Especially in cafes or major department stores. Keep in mind though that the traditional markets tend to operate on a cash basis. 

If you plan on venturing outside of major cities, you should also plan to have cash on hand. Most smaller shops and vendors don’t accept cards either.

Should you bring cash to Russia?

In short, you should bring a small amount of cash for emergencies regardless of where you travel. Since it is easiest to exchange major currencies in Russia, I suggest you bring either USD, GBP, or EUR.

Credit and debit cards are accepted almost everywhere in Russia these days. It is very rare in larger cities to come across a business, which does not accept cards. 

Therefore, if at all possible, we suggest paying by card whenever you have the option. No sense in carrying around cash if you don’t need it.  

Where to Exchange Money in Russia?

It is quite easy to exchange money in Russia. The most common place to exchange money is either at a bank or currency exchange booth on the street. Of course, the safest option is to use the bank, but you will find that the rates are almost always better at the small currency exchange booths that line the major streets in Moscow. 

In late 2018, the Russian government banned the use of the currency exchange signs that littered Moscow streets. Since then, it has become more difficult to find the best place to exchange your money in Moscow. Many of the banks offer rates that vary drastically from one another and the difference can easily be as much as 10-15%. 

In order to find the best rate, there are numerous sites (in Russian) that show you the rates at all of the banks around Moscow. Before heading out to exchange your money, check out all of the exchange rates in Moscow

If you go into one of the larger banks like Sberbank, Alfabank, VTB Bank, or Citibank, you can usually, even get assistance with currency exchange in English. 

You should exercise caution using the currency exchange booths that are everywhere in Russia. The level of safety is usually fine, but there many conditions and fine print associated with converting money at these booths. Many of them only offer a good rate if you are exchanging $5000 or more and the rate is very bad if you are only exchanging a few hundred dollars. 

Unless you can read and speak some Russian, we advise that you avoid exchanging money at these booths. Banks offer rates that are close, but you can be sure that you aren’t getting ripped off. The other problem with currency exchange booths is that the attendants are usually unskilled workers. They aren’t necessarily trying to scam you, but they can make a mistake and if you don’t realize it immediately, there is nothing you can do. 

If you do plan to bring cash to cover the duration of your trip, we advise only exchanging a small amount of money in Russian airports. The currency exchange attendant will have a higher chance of speaking English at the airport, but the rates are usually very poor. You can find a list and a map to all of the currency exchange offices in Russia’s largest airports below:

ATMs in Russia

ATMs are everywhere in Russia. Unless you are in the Siberian wilderness, there will always be an ATM nearby. In larger cities, there are ATMs in almost every building it seems. 

Fortunately, most ATMs in Russia have the option to change the language to English. This makes bringing a debit card much more convenient than cash. Just make sure that you call your card’s provider to inform them that you will be traveling to Russia so your card doesn’t get blocked.

In Russia, generally, ATMs do not charge any fees for withdrawing money in rubles with an international card. Some banks even allow you to withdraw dollars and euros without any fees. This means that fees received from Russian ATMs will largely depend on your bank. Make sure that you check on international exchange fees before you start using your debit card.  

If you have international exchange fees, you can withdraw larger sums (usually capped at $200 per transaction) and it will be cheaper than physically exchanging your currency.

We recommend using ATMs at the major banks in Russia. 

Here is a list of ATM locations from the major banks:
Raiffeisen Bank
Credit Bank of Moscow
Bank of Saint Petersburg

You can also find a list of ATMs to withdraw money in Russian airports below:

Note: It is uncommon, but make sure you inspect the ATM for signs of tampering before you put your card into it.

Still have questions regarding Russian money? Feel free to reach out to us.