How to Exchange Money in St Petersburg, Russia?

Do You Need to Bring Cash to Russia?

Most places in St Petersburg accept credit cards. Contactless terminals are common.  However, I would suggest taking some cash with you just in case you have any trouble using your credit cards.

You may want to tell your bank about your travel plans to Russia. Otherwise, transactions from Russia may look suspicious and your card may be blocked.  In this case, some cash would be handy until you sort out the issue.  Hopefully, this would not happen though.

Also, you may need bills for bus tickets, ice-cream, souvenirs, and tips.  Some odd restaurants as well as fast food kiosks may take only cash.

Warning! Do not carry around a lot of cash and beware of pickpockets.

Which Currency Should I Bring to Russia?

US dollars, Euros, and British pounds are the easiest to exchange.  Most banks and exchange offices accept many other currencies too.  

Tip:  It is key is to bring clean and undamaged bills.  The other day I was not able to exchange 50 euro bills that had small black marks on them.  Another bill was rejected on the grounds that it got wet at some point and hence had a blue hue under the light they use to check the bills’ authenticity.

Just in case, it is better to bring crispy new bills.

If your bills have been rejected, you have two options: bring them back home, or go to a Sberbank branch. There is a higher chance the bills will be accepted at this state-owned bank.

Most places in St Petersburg accept credit cards. Contactless terminals are common.  However, I would suggest taking some cash with you just in case you have any trouble using your credit cards.

You may want to tell your bank about your travel plans to Russia. Otherwise, transactions from Russia may look suspicious and your card may be blocked.  In this case, some cash would be handy until you sort out the issue.  Hopefully, this would not happen though.

Also, you may need bills for bus tickets, ice-cream, souvenirs, and tips.  Some odd restaurants as well as fast food kiosks may take only cash.

Warning! Do not carry around a lot of cash and beware of pickpockets.

Where to Exchange Money in St Petersburg Russia?

If you need to exchange money in St Petersburg there are two options:

  1. Banks.  For example, Sberbank is the incumbent state-owned bank and you may see quite many branches across Russia.  
  2. Exchange offices.  They are run by banks, but do not offer other retail banking services but currency exchange.  In Russian, they would be called ОБМЕН ВАЛЮТЫ [abmen valyuty] or ЦЕНТР ОБМЕНА СКВ

Where to Find Exchange Offices in Saint Petersburg?

Look for exchange rates displayed in windows of banks on Nevsky Prospect.

There is an exchange office near Moscovsky Vokzal Train Station at 7 Vosstania street.  Another one is at 2, Bolshaya Konushennaya street, off Nevsky Prospect.

What You Need to Know When Changing Currencies in Russia?

For any exchange operation, you will be charged a small commission, currently between 20 and 30 rubles ($0.25 -$0.30).

You will be given a written agreement which will state the exchanged currency amount and the commission.  

You get better rates, if you exchange larger sums of money.  For anything higher than $200 you will be offered a better exchange rate. 

You will need to present your passport when exchanging large sums, usually over $1,000.

Scams are rare these days, however, make sure to count your bills before you leave the exchange kiosk.

Other Ways to Get Cash

Use ATMs to withdraw rubles using a debit card.  Watch out for high commissions charged by some ATMs.  For example, Alfa-Bank is a prominent bank in Russia, but its cash withdrawal commissions appear very high.

On the contrary, Sberbank ATMs charge no commission. However, the drawback is that the maximum  amount to withdraw is 7,500 rubles ($100). You can withdraw cash multiple times which means your bank at home may charge you for each withdrawal operation.

Where to Find Official Ruble Exchange Rates?

In general, I find that cash exchange offices in St Petersburg these days are legit.

 You are not likely to encounter places with rip off exchange rates, maybe except the ones at the airport. However, it would not hurt to protect yourself and check the official ruble exchange rates on the Central Bank of Russia website.

Also, I find this exchange rate calculator on the Sberbank page useful.

Saint Petersburg native and travel blogger