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Safe ways to carry money to Russia

    Those who have never been to Russia, are inclined to judge it from movies. I have seen some American movies about Russians! :-)) They have nothing to do with reality! Nevertheless, you may be scared with “Russian mafia”, lack of development, instability. In reality Moscow is one of the most expensive cities of the world, equally with London, New York and Tokyo.  

    The word combination “Russian mafia” became obsolete long ago. Now Russia is governed by oligarchs – those, who in their time managed to buy oil, gas, etc. at cheap price. As you can see, it presents no danger for ordinary tourists, it is a matter of politics.  And in general to be in Russia now is no less and no more dangerous than in any European town.

    But as everywhere tourists should know some measures of safety, since they, as a rule, have big sums of money with them.

1. Cash.

You should have cash enough to pay for taxi, dinner and a night at a hotel. Even if you must

be met and taken to the hotel where you have already reserved a room! Because you might face different circumstances and you must be ready to this.

Attention! The newer your notes the better! So pick them out carefully before the trip. There mustn’t be any ink or fat spots and small holes on them. They mustn’t be worn or slightly torn. Such notes can be exchanged only in the State bank at a lower rate.

Currency exchanges are large in number and everywhere. At the railway stations, airports and hotels the exchange rate is always less profitable. If you can pay the driver with currency, do so and exchange other money in the city.

2. Credit cards.

It is very convenient to keep money on a plastic card. In this case you avoid the problem of pickpockets. However you face the problem of providing safety to money on your account: danger increases if you check your account by Internet, or use cash dispensers and enter your key-code. What should you do to save your money?

- Before departure open a card special for travel. Put there the sum necessary for the trip. In this way you will not only save your basic money, but will not exceed the limits of planned budget. :))

- It is better to open a credit card, not debit. In case some payment is made from your card without your knowledge, you will be able to return money only from your credit card.  

- Keep basic sums of money on the account, which has nothing to do with Internet. Check it only after coming back to your country.

- Always have the bank contacts with you. Write them somewhere, don’t rely on the information written on your plastic card. If you lose the plastic card, you will lose all the telephone numbers of the bank.

Following these simple rules, you can protect yourself from computer thieves.

3. Sending money.

However there is one more original way allowing you to avoid cash dispensers, customs and pickpockets at the railway stations. Just send money to yourself through some money transfer system like Western Union. To do this, transfer money on your name to the city where you are planning the trip. You can make some transfers, so that not to carry a big sum of money with you but get it when necessary. If you are planning the trip to several towns, you can make transfers on your name to each town. In case some transferred money is left unused you can return it after coming back to your country.

4. Travel checks.

This way is popular in the world, but in Russia few banks have this service. Say, in Kazan there is only one bank (Ak Bars) that accepts travel checks. So carrying money in travel checks, don’t count fully on them, it is better to combine different ways.

    Remember in Russia you CAN’T pay by checks or in any other ways, except rubles and plastic cards. You may pay dollars or euro to private persons (for instance taxi driver) if they agree, but in all official places it is forbidden.

    Follow these simple rules preparing for your trip and enjoy your time in Russia!

Your comments:

#1 john self (USA) at 2005-10-23
So if I carry a modest sum of cash and a credit card from my home then this will be enough? Will I be able to convert money at the Chance for Love Hotel? Im trying to budget how much I will need as I will be staying a week in Nikolaev and will need to be picked up at the airport and dropped at the Hotel. I am working on a date in December right now.

John Self
Author's answer: Dear John,

You are absolutely right. A modest sum of cash and a credit card will be enough. There are ATMs in Nikolaev, so you won't have problems with getting cash.
So how much cash you should have? What does it mean "a modest sum of money"?
I think that you must have cash for:
- transfer from the airport to Nikolaev;
- hotel, at least for the first day;
- supper/dinner at a restaurant;
- plus unforeseen expenses.

In this way, you will surely get to the hotel and won't be hungry. The next morning you can estimate how much cash you will need and take it out of your credit card by an ATM.
Please note:
- the hotels accept only cash.
- the popular cards in Russia are MasterCard and Visa. If your card is of a different company, make sure that you will have a chance to take money out of it in the Ukraine.
Also I would recommend you to have two cards, just in case. If something happens to the first card, you could use the second one.


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