The 2022 Travel Money Guide to Currency in Russia for Australians
Russia offers many different types of travel experiences, treks in the wilderness, exploring lots of historical sites and train journeys. While it is a modest budget destination, to get the most out of your trip, it’s a good idea to learn everything you can about the local currency and payment options before you go.
Want to learn more about the currency in Russia and how to get your hands on it for the best value? Read on to find out:
What Currency is Used in Russia?
The official currency used in Russia, is the Russian Ruble, which has the international code RUB and the symbol ₽. There are 7 different types of banknotes, they are 50₽, 100₽, 200₽, 500₽, 1,000₽, 2,000₽ and 5,000₽.
Similar to the Australian dollar which has dollar coins, the Russian Ruble has 4 Ruble coins which are 1₽, 2₽, 5₽, and 10₽. In addition they have smaller coins called kons (k) and they are 10k and 50k.
How to Buy Russian Ruble Before You Go
There’s a certain reassurance that comes with stepping off the plane (or cruise ship) already cashed up with Russian Ruble.
Buying Russian Ruble before you leave Australian shores isn’t just convenient. It can also save you money. But it all depends on where you get your Russian Ruble in Australia. There are 3 main options:
- Buy RUB online and have it delivered or collect it in-store
- Swap Australian dollars for Russian Rubles from a money changer
- Buy Russian Rubles at your home airport
Try S Money or a similar online currency exchange store to get rates that reflect the comparisons you see on XE or Google.
If you choose online delivery or in-store pickup, check the processing time. Some exchange companies with online options suggest you allow between two and five days to process currency.
Prefer in-store currency exchange? Head to the CBD of your nearest city for the most competitive exchange rates; suburban bureau de change outlets tend to have poorer rates and fees.
Currency exchange counters in Australia’s airports are infamous for their atrocious exchange rates. Avoid them if you can.
The Average Costs to Travel in Russia
To get the most out of your time in Russia, you’ll want to create a budget and make sure your savings stretch as far as possible.
To give you an idea of a reasonable budget, we’ve listed the average prices of some common items and experiences you’ll have while in Russia.
The average daily travel budget in Russia is about $120. Some of the expenses you might be looking at include:
$80 per night
A mid-range hotel room
A cheap pub meal
A pint of beer
Average transport daily costs
Activities or Entertainment
How to Exchange Currency in Russia
Places like Moscow and Saint Petersburg receive great numbers of tourists, so there are facilities to cater to money exchanges. Beyond these major destinations, it’s best to get cash before you venture into remote territory.
Keep in mind, currency exchange outlets at ports of entry into the country (such as train stations, border crossings and airports) typically offer some of the worst exchange rates and fees in the country. If you need to pick up currency, there are a few ways to do it beyond the border entry points.
ATMs are called bahkomats in Russia and are everywhere in the major cities like Moscow and St Petersberg, however in country towns you need to take cash. Common ATMs are from RSHB bank, UniCredit, Raiffeisen and Gazprom bank.
Some banks can have very low daily withdrawal limits, as low as $150 per day, so you might need to use more than one type of bank’s ATM if you need more money. Most of the time the display will be in English if you place a foreign bank card in the ATM.
Depending on your bank, you may have to pay for overseas ATM withdrawals and currency conversions. To reduce the amount you’ll pay in fees, try to withdraw just the right amount of money you’ll need for the duration of your trip.
Don’t forget: Let your bank know you’re travelling! If they detect a foreign transaction but aren’t aware you’re overseas, they could end up freezing your card.
Currency Exchange in Russia
There are plenty of currency exchange or money changers in the larger cities. Most of them are independent so they all look different buy most should have a board with their buy and sell prices listed.
When bringing cash into Russia, it is best to bring Euro, then US dollars to exchange into Russian rubles. It is unlikely they will exchange Australian dollars for Russian rubles.
There are banks in which you can exchange money but currency exchangers tend to offer marginally better rates than banks as many banks charge high flat fees per transaction. Also, banks only exchange currencies on weekdays.
Thanks to advances in bank fraud protection and an increase in places accepting card payments, travellers cheques are virtually redundant in 21st-century travel.
Few Russian traders will accept them and you may even have trouble changing them in a bank so your best bet is to avoid them altogether as they’re often more hassle than they’re worth.
Using Your Bank Card in Russia
Most Russia businesses are well set up to receive card payments. Some of the best travel money cards include debit, credit and prepaid cards. But before you use your bank card willy-nilly, it’s worth reading up on the fees and charges you might incur.
You’ll probably want a debit card if you plan to withdraw money from an ATM. While you may also be able to pay with a debit card in some businesses in the major destinations, you might discover some hefty fees on your account summary.
Depending on your bank, you could be hit with fees for foreign ATM withdrawals or currency conversions. But some banks are better than others; we recommend checking out ING, Revolut, and TransferWise, all of which have travel-friendly debit cards that waive these charges.
Credit cards can come with some enticing perks, including added security, loyalty programs, and even free travel insurance.
But are they worth it?
Major local businesses, including hotels, restaurants, airline offices, and department stores, accept credit cards. But you might have to pay a surcharge.
Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted. You may also be able to use your American Express card, though local ATMs won’t accept them.
Just be aware of additional charges you may incur for foreign transactions. These could include:
- International transaction fees
- High exchange rate margins
- ATM fees
- Potential ‘cash advance fees’ if you use an ATM
If you still prefer credit cards over any other payment, consider going with a company that offers cards that waive certain travel fees. Bankwest Platinum and 28 Degrees both have travel-friendly cards.
Prepaid Travel Cards
The biggest advantages of prepaid travel cards are that you can lock in a favourable exchange rate. You also get a handy back-up card.
Just remember that while they are convenient, you could end up paying a long list of hidden fees. Many travel cards still impose:
- Currency conversion fees
- Uncompetitive exchange rates
- International ATM withdrawal fees
- Initial load fees
- Reload fees
- Inactivity fees