Be prepared to pay big bucks. Russia is very expensive and Moscow is one of the top five most expensive cities in the world according to some reports. Eating out, accommodation, and entertainment costs as much, and often more than, as in large cities in the United States. Generally travel around Russia is expensive and problematic, hence the reason why most Russians choose to go abroad for their holidays rather than travel somewhere in the country. Outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, you will find cheaper restaurants and accommodations, although much of them are still surprisingly expensive and low quality. Because the country is so large and infrastructure is somewhat lacking, flights to Russian cities could cost as much, and sometimes more than, flights to Europe or the U.S.
ATMs are available all over Moscow and St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities. Local banks such as Sberbank are featured as well as international, including HSBC and Citibank. Credit cards are accepted at some restaurants and hotels, but not all. It is best to pay with cash. Also, sometimes credit cards from foreign banks are declined at restaurants or bars. It is best to exchange cash at Moscow or St. Petersburg banks. If you exchange in other far-flung regions of Russia, you might lose a large percentage of the money.
All payments should be made in Rubles, unless the venue accepts y.e., or so-called "units," which usually equal the rate of the dollar or the euro. In that case you can pay with dollars or Euros. However, in private, you can pay in dollars or euros for a service, and sometimes that payment is preferred because despite several years of stability, many Russians still prefer foreign currency.
It is possible to still use traveler's checks, but this option is slowly becoming obsolete, as more convenient options such as ATMs are available. If you do use them, keep in mind that you can only cash them at banks, most of which close at around 7 pm. Banks also charge commission, about 2 to 3 percent for the service.
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