The official Russian currency is Russian Rouble (RUR). One Rouble consists of 100 kopeeks. The exchange rate is nearly 40 Roubles to 1 US dollar, 50 Rubles to 1 Euro. For exact rates you can use the online currency converters at http://www.xe.net/pca/ or http://www.oanda.com. It’s not legal to use US dollars or Euro for transactions in Russia.
How to Keep Your Money — Cash, Travelers Cheques, Credit Cards in Russia
Cash is used much more often than the credit/debit cards, and if you’re outside of the big cities, take cash only because it will be hard to cash the cards or cheques. If you dont have Roubles, it’s better if the cash is in US dollars or Euros, because that’s the currency you’ll be able to exchange everywhere in Russia. If you have any other currency, then it might be hard to find an exchange office, and the rate won’t be in your favor. Better change your money in US dollars or Euro beforehand.
Credit/Debit Cards: There’re many cash machines (ATMs) and a lot of shops and restaurants accept cards in Kazan. However, it’s better if you withdraw your money in the ATM, which is at some bank’s office, in that case if your card gets stuck you’ll deal with the problem faster. If you fail to collect your card within 30-40 seconds, the machine swallows the card and holds it as a security measure. Usually, some banks may charge 0 t 1% commission if you withdraw money with the card of the other (foreign) bank, but your bank — the issuer of the card — will take from 2-5 US$ for this operation. Visa, MasterCard are accepted almost in any ATM, Visa Electron and Cirrus/Maestro — more rarely, and AMEX and Diners Club owners might have problems cashing the cards.
In Kazan, there are plenty of ATMs around the city. Obviously you can find them in the New Educational Wing of University (NUK), major shopping centers and in the foyers of the major hotels such as Mirage, Shalyapin Palace Hotel and even the Tatarstan. There are several ATMs within 500 meter radius of the hostel premises.
The ATM opposite the McDonalds express window (Baumana Ul., 72a) is easy to locate at any time of day or night as is the one at Ipoteka-Invest Bank (Baumana Ul.,29). And there are many others around.
Security & In Case of Emergency — What to Do if You Lost Your Card, Money, or Travelers’ Cheques in Russia
It’s good to note the numbers beforehand of all the traveler’s cheques and cards you have with the emergency number, so that in case something is stolen you can block it.
It’s better to divide the amount you have in three parts and store them separately. It’s better if the three parts you have are all different: one-third of cash, one-third in travelers’ cheques, one-third in cards.
If everything you had is stolen you can ask somebody to make a money transfer for you either through banks or through Western Union or Moneygram. Otherwise, you can go to your country’s embassy and maybe they will help you.
Where and How to Change your Money
There’re plenty of exchange offices in Kazan, but try to find the ones, which look good and offer reasonable rates. There is one on the main street at Ipoteka-Invest Bank (Baumana Ul., 29) and another in the Universitetskaya Ul., #10/48. There is also one at the Mirage Hotel (Moskovskaya Ul.,1a). The exchange centers are also present in shopping malls.
Always check how much you’ve got, while you are in front of the cashier. Never change money on the street, because you might get defrauded. «Exchange office» in Russian language sounds «obmen valyuty» (обмен валюты). Exchange offices at the airports and railway stations offer slightly lower exchange rate.
Money Transfer Services in Russia
The most widespread international system of money transfer in Russia is Western Union. The transfer can be made through almost any bank and it takes only 20 minutes. There’s a commission for the transfer, for example, for 300$ they’ll charge around 50$. The information phone number of Western Union in Moscow is (095)797-2194. Citizens of the United States and Canada can make a Western Union transfer through the internet, using their credit card. See details on WU’s website at www.westernunion.com. But Western Union charge quite much for their services, so you may consider using other cheaper options. Normally, they take longer, but commission is much lower.
Moneygram — A service similar to Western Union.But, it is relatively cheaper. More information can be obtained on their website at www.moneygram.com.
Contact System - Unites several banks in Russia and abroad. It is quite cheap way of transferring money. Comission 2-3% only. Find a branch in your city on their website, come there and send money to another available branch. www.contact-sys.com.