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Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

Ireland
Level Contributor
388 posts
1,617 reviews
Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

Hi all.

This is a great forum, invaluable for planning for our much anticipated week long holiday in SPB next month !

We have been seeing differing views on buying some rubles outside of Russia. Having a small amount of rubles on arrival at Pulkovo would be for convenience, saving immediate queuing at ATM or in airport bank. We’d very much appreciate your advice on these:

(a) I assume its legal to bring a small amount of rubles into Russia ?

(b) Is the advice not to buy rubles outside Russia based only on the lower exchange rates available outside Russia ?

(c) While in SPB we would intend changing euros cash to rubles and also using VISA credit card for cash withdrawals.

Say in a Sberbank branch what is the commission/charge to change 500 euros (notes) to rubles ?

Many thanks.

Moscow, Russia
Level Contributor
12,332 posts
223 reviews
1. Re: Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

a) yes

b) probably yes

c) no explicit commission, just a spread between buy/sell rates

England
7 posts
2. Re: Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

Yes it's ok to take a small amount of roubles into Russia but experience has taught me that its better to bring US dollars and change them into roubles AFTER arriving in the country. You will get a much better exchange rate if you do this.

England
7 posts
3. Re: Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

Yes it's ok to take a small amount of roubles into Russia but experience has taught me that its better to bring US dollars and change them into roubles on the black market after arriving in the country. The black market money changers can be found hanging around the entrances to busy markets in all major towns and cities. You will get a much better exchange rate if you do this.

New York
Destination Expert
for Moscow
Level Contributor
4,284 posts
40 reviews
4. Re: Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

right... and I also recommend to use leeches for whatever ails you)))

There are no explicit limits on how much cash you can bring in that I can see, doesn't mean it is a good idea. You might bring enough for a cab, in case the cashier is out to lunch or something.

The commission is built into the rate and is 1% give or take

Moscow, Russia
Level Contributor
12,332 posts
223 reviews
5. Re: Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

> The black market money changers can be found hanging around the entrances to busy markets in all major towns and cities

WHAT?! I have not seen a "black market money changer" in years if not decades, and those I have seen in the wild 90s were mostly crooks that would give you counterfeit notes. When have you last been to Russia, may I ask? If you go to cash.rbc.ru you can see for yourself that no black market money changer can possibly beat the rates offered by many legal exchange offices.

Edited: 23 May 2010, 17:55
St. Andrews, UK...
Level Contributor
91 posts
1 review
6. Re: Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

I saw one guy in early 2007 or 2008 near the entrance to a bank branch who was desperately trying to exchange his roubles for dollars with some nice rate and to convince people that money he had was not counterfeit. Obviously most of the people just passed him by and went to the bank instead.

St Petersburg Russia
Destination Expert
for St. Petersburg
Level Contributor
2,762 posts
27 reviews
7. Re: Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

I have not seen that since the Crisis, 1998.

Ireland
Level Contributor
388 posts
1,617 reviews
8. Re: Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

Thanks for your advice. We'll bring a small amount of rubles and then rely on ATMs for local cash.

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
110 posts
24 reviews
9. Re: Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

Hi Permia, Just back from 10 days in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I was with a group tour with The Travel Department. I spoke to a couple at Dublin airport on departure than they had changed euros into roubles in the bureau at Dublin airport but got a rubbish rate of exchange. I brought euro notes and on the morning after arrival found that the hotel had an exchange bureau and ATM type machines which changed currency. The rate in the ATMs was much better than the hotel offered. I was getting 37.50 rubles per euro from the ATM rather than 33+ roubles from the hotel bureau.

I didn't hear of any of our group changing money in the street - after all we were cautioned about various scams such as giving fake notes etc. Russia is a wonderful trip and not as cheap as some former eastern European counties ( but definitely cheaper than Ireland) so on a short visit of 10 days I did not bother and a couple of percentage points difference in the exchange rate I could have gotten to what I got. After all I was on holiday and not a penny pinching miser who (like some of my group made their lunchtime sandwiches from the breakfast buffet). As long as I am not being horribly ripped off (as I was in March in the exchange bureau in Budapest airport) I am happy and so are most people.

Ireland
Level Contributor
388 posts
1,617 reviews
10. Re: Buying some rubles outside Russia ?

Hi mtek.

Ta for your good advice. We will definitely avoid D airport exchange !

Glad you had a good holiday. Really looking forward to our (first) trip to lovely SPB.

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