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withdrawing money while in Russia in rubles for 7 week stay

west hartford, CT
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withdrawing money while in Russia in rubles for 7 week stay

College student will be studying in St. Petersburg for 7 weeks. It appears that Citibank and Deutsche Bank have branches (and ATMs) there. Any advice as to whether this would be a good way to access money there? I could establish an account in the US with either, kid could withdraw from ATM there. If there is a cheaper or better option, please advise. Kid will be studying near the Nevsky Ave Citibank branch.

8 replies to this topic
Jakarta
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1. Re: withdrawing money while in Russia in rubles for 7 week stay

USD cash is absolutely easy to exchange in spb in any bank. I hardly understand the anxiety of the OP's question....!

Payments by card are common in there too. MasterCard and visa are welcome. AMEX and Diners club - not really.

Moscow, Russia
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2. Re: withdrawing money while in Russia in rubles for 7 week stay

You don't need to have an account with a specific bank to be able to withdraw money in Russia. Any Visa or MasterCard no matter if it's issued in CT or Bangladesh is enough.

St. Petersburg...
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3. Re: withdrawing money while in Russia in rubles for 7 week stay

<<Any advice as to whether this would be a good way to access money there? I could establish an account in the US with either, kid could withdraw from ATM there.>>

What you are proposing is what I've been doing for the last 4-5 years for a relative of my Russian wife who I've putting through university in Saint Petersburg. Each month I put money into an account at the Bank of Montreal here in Canada, and he uses my card in Saint Petersburg to withdraw from that account. He just finished his final year by presenting his thesis (he received 4/5), and he'll get his diploma soon.

A few tips:

1). Each withdrawal that he makes costs me about $3. Some ATMs allow larger withdrawals than others. Finding the ATM with the larger withdrawal limit reduces the number of $3 charges (which can add up to a lot over 4-5 years).

2) If your student loses the ATM card, or it becomes inactive, you'll likely have to send a replacement card by courier (although it never happened to us). We've found that small envelopes often take 2 months to reach Saint Petersburg.

Let me know if I can be of further help.

Good luck.

Moscow, Russia
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4. Re: withdrawing money while in Russia in rubles for 7 week stay

<Citibank and Deutsche Bank have branches >

Incorrect. There are no branches of foreign banks in Russia. None. There are Russia-registered banks owned by foreign parent bank, e.g. Citi, Deutsche, Raiffeisen...ATMs of Russian banks owned by foreign parent financial institutions would not necessarily be any better compared to ATMs owned by other Russian banks. Any ATM would be OK.

west hartford, CT
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5. Re: withdrawing money while in Russia in rubles for 7 week stay

Thanks for clarifying that. I was just looking for the cheapest, most convenient way to have her get access to our USD money while she is in Russia. Now I understand that Deutsche Bank and Citibank, while present in St. Petersburg, are not affiliated with the US branches of such, and that she would still have to pay transaction fees there.

The bank that we use here charges a percentage if we withdraw from an ATM in a different country. Plus of course there is the exchange rate, and an ATM fee. Any recommendations on banks that are in the Northeast US that do NOT charge a percentage on foreign transactions?

She will have a credit card, too, with no foreign transaction percentage, but I'm sure she will need cash in rubles, too.

Moscow, Russia
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6. Re: withdrawing money while in Russia in rubles for 7 week stay

Check Citi Priority, for Citi Priority clients ATM fees are waved. I am not sure whether it is worth it....

“Waived fees for standard checkbook orders, stop payments, money orders and Citibank fees for non-Citibank ATM usage”

west hartford, CT
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7. Re: withdrawing money while in Russia in rubles for 7 week stay

Looks as if Schwab has a no foreign exchange fee, no ATM fee, plus rebate of any foreign bank ATM fees debit card (as long as the ATM accepts Visa, and you open - but don't have to use - a Schwab investment account). This seems to be the cheapest way to access money abroad. But the reviews say it's a huge pain to open the account, and a pain to get money into the account. Apparently, you have to send them a check to be deposited.

St Petersburg Russia
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8. Re: withdrawing money while in Russia in rubles for 7 week stay

The best way to not lose too much money in conversion is sending US dollars to a Russian bank account monitized in dollars and having the student use their ATM card to withdraw dollars, (they only deliver $100 notes, new uncirculated) and that those dollars to one of the high volume exchange banks where the bid and ask exchange rate is in the 1% difference span. Citi-Bank is where one of my accounts is open, in both ruble and dollar accounts. If I pay for a ruble bill with a debit card the bank has a much worse exchange rate, around 10%. But it they want to withdraw dollars exceeding the daily withdrawal limit for their account when using an ATM, they can withdraw any amount by the human teller.....but at 3.5% commission for taking your own money(!!), and 0% commission on ATM withdrawals. When first opening an account the main withdrawal level per day might be as low as $200 but that can be increased by going to the bank in person.

The best two exchange banks I use are both on or near Ligovsky Ul,, across the street from the Galeria shopping center.

Citibank Russia is not compatible with accounts in Citicorp banks in the US. Depositing in the US does not mean it can be taken out or credited to Citibank Russia accounts. You will have to do bank transfers which have their own fees at the originating end.

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