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need to know about use of dollars vs. rubles

need to know about use of dollars vs. rubles

Old Aug 15th, 2002, 10:13 PM
  #1  
alwayslate
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need to know about use of dollars vs. rubles

I have been told by almost everyone who has visited Russia that most individuals would prefer to receive dollars rather than rubles. Dollars were used by just about everyone.

In the Am. Chamber of Com. for Russia, it said that using dollars was illegal. You must use rubles.

We are in a quandry as to how much cash in dollars (new, untorn, unwrinkled)we should take with us. Or do we need cash in dollars at all?

We will really appreciate an anwer, honest and reflective.

Alwayslate
 
Old Aug 16th, 2002, 12:14 AM
  #2  
Jimbo
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alwayslate

I visited Russia in March with some US dollars, and had them converted to Roubles as I crossed the border (I was going by train from Finland to St Petersburg). I believe it IS true that Roubles are the only LEGAL tender in Russia, we had no problems whatsoever in getting them from ATMs so as long as you have a debit card with VISA you'll be just fine. Having said that, depending on how 'off the beaten track' you wish to go, it's always worth carrying a nice folded fifty in your sock!!
 
Old Aug 16th, 2002, 01:29 AM
  #3  
spoob
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Would recommend smaller bills than a fifty.

Got caught out really badly in Moscow paying with a fifty. The guy took it, looked at it, folded it (here's the trick), then said it was too old and wouldn't accept it and gave it back.

On getting home, realised he had switched it for a one dollar bill
 
Old Aug 16th, 2002, 06:34 AM
  #4  
Marc David Miller
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All payments in Russia are officially made in rubles. However, in many shops you may find the prices indicated in U.S. Dollars or "conditional units" (usually equal to U.S. Dollars). This became common after the financial problems of 1998. Many shops catering to tourists as well as companies selling major items (such as cars, real estate and computers) quote their prices in U.S. Dollars. The conversion rate is either posted (commonly at a slightly high rate) or understood to be the bank rate.

Some private vendors, such as kiosk sellers, guides and taxis may accept payment in U.S. Dollars or in rubles, although there generally is no meaningful price difference.

It is best to bring at least a few days worth of money in cash, as occasionally communications networks handling ATM and credit card transactions are not available (as elsewhere in the world).

As many Russians keep their savings in U.S. Dollars it is very easy to find exchange bureaus throughout Russia. Banks and small currency exchange bureaus offer very good rates; hotels and casinos are generally more expensive. Many exchange bureaus will also convert euros and other currencies, although often the rate is not as good as for U.S. Dollars.

Bring pristine U.S. Dollar bills. You will have easier time changing money if your banknotes are absolutely clean. Only bring the newer versions of the $5, $20, $50 and $100 bills (with the larger, off-center faces) as few places will accept the older versions.

Don't change money on the street. Unlike during Soviet times, there is no advantage to dealing with an unofficial vendor (and consequently there is considerable incentive for the moneychanger to take advantage of you).

Bank machines are common and convenient in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Other large cities also have them but many times there are restrictions on foreign cards. They usually offer services in multiple languages, and some give out U.S. Dollars or local currency. In smaller towns and villages they are often difficult to find or non-existent.

In Moscow and St. Petersburg more and more shops, restaurants and services take credit cards (Visa/MasterCard are more accepted than American Express; Discover, Diners Club and other cards are rarely accepted).

Most upscale establishments will accept credit cards, but beyond these it is pure random.

Some banks (such as Sberbank) will cash AMEX travelers' checks, but they are not particularly convenient.
 
Old Aug 16th, 2002, 06:35 AM
  #5  
Marc David Miller
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All payments in Russia are officially made in rubles. However, in many shops you may find the prices indicated in U.S. Dollars or "conditional units" (usually equal to U.S. Dollars). This became common after the financial problems of 1998. Many shops catering to tourists as well as companies selling major items (such as cars, real estate and computers) quote their prices in U.S. Dollars. The conversion rate is either posted (commonly at a slightly high rate) or understood to be the bank rate.

Some private vendors, such as kiosk sellers, guides and taxis may accept payment in U.S. Dollars or in rubles, although there generally is no meaningful price difference.

It is best to bring at least a few days worth of money in cash, as occasionally communications networks handling ATM and credit card transactions are not available (as elsewhere in the world).

As many Russians keep their savings in U.S. Dollars it is very easy to find exchange bureaus throughout Russia. Banks and small currency exchange bureaus offer very good rates; hotels and casinos are generally more expensive. Many exchange bureaus will also convert euros and other currencies, although often the rate is not as good as for U.S. Dollars.

Bring pristine U.S. Dollar bills. You will have easier time changing money if your banknotes are absolutely clean. Only bring the newer versions of the $5, $20, $50 and $100 bills (with the larger, off-center faces) as few places will accept the older versions.

Don't change money on the street. Unlike during Soviet times, there is no advantage to dealing with an unofficial vendor (and consequently there is considerable incentive for the moneychanger to take advantage of you).

Bank machines are common and convenient in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Other large cities also have them but many times there are restrictions on foreign cards. They usually offer services in multiple languages, and some give out U.S. Dollars or local currency. In smaller towns and villages they are often difficult to find or non-existent.

In Moscow and St. Petersburg more and more shops, restaurants and services take credit cards (Visa/MasterCard are more accepted than American Express; Discover, Diners Club and other cards are rarely accepted).

Most upscale establishments will accept credit cards, but beyond these it is pure random.

Some banks (such as Sberbank) will cash AMEX travelers' checks, but they are not particularly convenient.

This is all based on both personal experience over the last three years and travellers' tales.
 
Old Aug 16th, 2002, 06:41 AM
  #6  
Fred
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The average Russian LOVE American dollars, as the ruble often is devalued. It is their hedge against inflation. The only place where we needed rubles were shops that were in malls or big chain department stores. We purchased most everything at small stalls and shops. We had better bagaining power with dollars. Your money does not have to be new and pristine, just in decent shape. I would change some dollars to rubles once you get there, after you get a feeel for what you want to spend your money on.
Fred
 
Old Aug 16th, 2002, 11:32 AM
  #7  
alwayslate
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Thanks so much for the well-thought-out replies. This column is really invaluable for travelers who want the "real skinny"! Mark, especially to you, for your knowledgeable answers and help.
Alwayslate
 
Old Aug 16th, 2002, 03:56 PM
  #8  
Also
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For non-residents of Russia, the export of non-Russian currency is limited to the imported amount. Therefore, non-residents of Russia are recommended to fill in the customs declaration mentioning the imported sums of foreign currencies, and use the Red Channel wherever it’s available. When the amount to be imported exceeds the equivalent to USD 10,000, filling in the customs declaration is mandatory and using the Green Channel is not allowed.
The entry customs declaration has also to contain the list of antiques, works of art, and musical instruments imported. The declaration is to be kept until leaving Russia.
On exporting from Russia foreign currency amounts exceeding the equivalent to USD 1,500, filling in the customs declaration is mandatory and using the Green Channel is not allowed.
It is not allowed to export from Russia any items of cultural value, including pieces of art produced more than 100 years ago, and items of special cultural importance irrelevant to the date of manufacturing. To export an item of cultural value, including contemporary artworks, the authorized certificate is necessary, issued by the Local Management Body at Russian Federation Ministry of Culture on Preserving Items of Cultural Value.
The nowaday souvenirs, and also cultural items of mass production, need no permission to be taken out of Russia.
 
Old Aug 16th, 2002, 04:08 PM
  #9  
youwantto
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You will need lots of rubles as most goods and services, by law are sold only for rubles, even to foreigners. US dollars circulate as a second currency only in a few sectors of the economy, although many Russians hold dollars as a hedge against a depreciating ruble. Some elements of the tourist industry, although illegal, demand payment in dollars, and few refuse dollars when offered. Other currencies - Deutsch marks, Swedish kroner and Finn marks - are more difficult to use.

Bring along all denominations ($1's, 5's, 10's, & 20's) for cash outlays and $100's for changing money. The bills should be in good condition without writing or marks on them, as soiled bills are not accepted.

Official Currency Exchange Offices, are called "Obmen valyuty". Now there are literally hundreds of official "exchange points" scattered throughout the city, in hotels, stores, and banks, especially if they previously accepted foreign currency. At these official offices - often branches of banks - you can "officially" change money and receive the proper receipts, which may be required to take some types of purchases out of the country.
A passport is usually required to fill out the proper documentation.

Exchanging worn-out U.S. Currency. Many exchanges will not accept worn, torn or old US bills. Here you can change them.

New Ruble Currency and Coins: Starting January 1, 1998, old bank notes were exchanged for new ones at the ratio of 1000 old rubles to 1 new ruble, thereby knocking off three "zeros" from all prices. Everywhere all the prices are given in old and new money, which are supposed to differ by 1 000 points and all cashiers are required to post which monetary units are used for prices - even though it is rather obvious.
During all 1998 old and new bank notes will both be accepted as a means of payments including making bank deposits. After that, old bank notes can be exchanged without any limitations up until the end of 2002.

The following bank notes and coins are currently in circulation:
New bank notes (1997): 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000 rbls;
New coins (1997): 1, 5,10, 50 kopeks and 1, 2 and 5 rbls. The 50 kopeck coin is most used.
All pre-1993 bank notes and coins are invalid.

 
Old Aug 17th, 2002, 09:30 PM
  #10  
not_every_one
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Why is it the yanks always want to impress everyone by spending US dollars, do they think that they are still at home or are they just to lazy to change money into the currency of the country that they visit? Try to spend a rouble in New York and see fhow far you get!!
 
Old Aug 17th, 2002, 10:33 PM
  #11  
Marc David Miller
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Not every one,

The reason why this question of rubles vs. US Dollars keeps on coming up is because, for many years, visitors to the Soviet Union and later to Russia would get better value by paying in Dollars. Since the ruble has largely stabalized in the last two years it is no longer an issue.

In addition, many prices are quoted in US Dollars (even to Russians) but payment is still in rubles.
 
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