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Where and how to exchange euros for rubles? How to pay in Russia?

Exchange of euro for rubles bypassing sanctions Julius Conley

One of the most common questions travelers to Russia ask is how to exchange euros for rubles and how to pay in Russia. Do you always need to carry rubles with you, or is it possible to pay for everything with a card in Russia?

After economic sanctions against Russia in February-March 2022, the ruble has fallen significantly against the euro and the dollar. It also affected credit card payments in Russia. Important updates have been added to the article.

Here is our practical guide to help you find your way. You will learn how to profitably exchange euros for rubles and what payment methods are the most profitable in Russia.

Where to exchange euros for rubles: in Russia or in France?

The first decision you will have to make is: France or Russia? In which country will the exchange rate be the most favorable? With the same success, I can say right away, although I’m spoiling it: it’s more profitable in Russia.

For a specific example, let's compare exchange rates as of December 10, 2021: 1 euro = 83.34 rubles.

The current exchange rate of the ruble against the euro is always available on the official website of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation.

Where in France to exchange cash euros for rubles: an exchange office or a bank

At the exchange office

For example, or one of its competitors.

Here, on December 10, 2021, you will be given 79 rubles for one euro. There is no additional fee, it is included in the course offered to you.

The official exchange rate of the ruble, according to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, is 83.34 rubles per euro. The difference between this exchange and the official rate is 5.2%, which is how much you will spend.

Here is another exchange Here, on December 10, 2021, you will be given 78 rubles for 1 euro. Thus, the difference between this exchange office and the official rate is 6.4%.

In your own bank, such as Société Générale.

Conditions may vary, but all our travelers have confirmed this to us: French banks charge you two commissions:
- The first, at the time of the exchange rate change. The one practiced by the bank may deviate from the official rate by 8-10%
- The second is when the bank will take a percentage of the amount you change. In the case of the Société Générale, it is 2%. In addition, you often have to order these rubles in advance and wait for them for several days, which forces you to do this in advance.

You can imagine, but we'll make it clear anyway: changing euros at the airport just before flying to Russia is the worst decision possible. We recommend avoiding this at all costs, just as it is better not to change euros at the airport upon arrival in Russia. Here you will find the lowest exchange rates.

Where to exchange euros for rubles in Russia

There are three possibilities: at the branches of a Russian bank, at an exchange office or at an ATM.

Exchanging euros for rubles in a Russian bank

Many Russian banks have a branch network. The largest of them, Sberbank, even has thousands of them. But there are a hundred more: MKB, PSB, VTB ... not all branches can change currency. You can find those offering this service on their interactive exchange rate chart. Here's what it looks like:

If you see this table, enter the bank and talk to the manager or cashier. In Sberbank, for example, on December 10, 2021, for one euro you will receive 81.75 rubles, the difference is only 1.9% of the official rate.

Do Russian banks charge foreign exchange fees like French banks do?

Russian banks usually don't charge a fee on top of their exchange rate, but we still recommend that you check this before exchanging euros for rubles.

The advantage of this method is that it is simple and safe. Operations are carried out upon presentation of a passport. The disadvantage compared to the currency exchange office (see below) is the less favorable exchange rate.

Exchanging euros for rubles at an exchange office (the best option)

How to find an exchange office

A currency exchange office is also a kind of bank branch, but it specializes in one type of operation - currency exchange. You will notice this on the exchange rate chart. Exchange offices are usually located in shopping centers or shops in the city center in the form of mini-counters. On Tverskaya Street in Moscow or on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg, you will see many of these luminous tables: these are exchange offices.

How to read exchange rate tables

The word "Purchase" (Purchase, "purchase" in Russian) indicates the rate at which the bank will buy your euros. You are interested in this particular rate: you sell euros to buy rubles.

The word "Sell" (Prodaja, "sell";) indicates the rate at which the bank will sell you euros. You already have: this figure does not interest you.

The main advantage of exchangers

In good exchange offices, the exchange rate is as close as possible to the official price on the exchange. Unlike the exchange rate of the Central Bank, which is updated only once a day, it follows the change in the ruble exchange rate.

In a Russian exchange office, a bank sells you rubles, which it buys on the stock exchange in accordance with its fluctuations during the day. You can often find better rates there than at the central bank if the euro strengthened against the ruble during the day. It's practically a form of trading in the stock market: an unusual opportunity for those who just want to change money in the city and are not a professional trader.

What you need to know in exchange offices

Exchange offices in the centers of Russian cities are not overtly dishonest. But sometimes there may be some problems that it is better to know about in advance.

The golden rule is this: before you change money, clearly indicate the amount you will receive in your hands, and once it is received, recalculate on the spot.

This is the best way to protect yourself.

Some of the fraudulent practices used by some exchangers

- The exchange rate announced on the luminous panel is applied only from a certain amount (for example, 10,000 euros); and the rate actually applied for lower amounts is less favorable. Compare the price advertised on the street with the one offered inside.

- Additional commission on top of the exchange rate. Rarely, such exchange offices exist, and it is better to avoid them. But if you follow the rule above, you will avoid these problems.

Exchanging euros for rubles at an ATM (ATM)

UPD dated March 28, 2022: transactions with cards of foreign banks in Russia are currently suspended due to the decision of Visa and MasterCard.

This option is also possible: in Russia, you can exchange euros for rubles directly at an ATM. It is not always easy to find out what exchange rate is being made, because your bank will take a fee and the bank that owns the distributor will take a second. But, as a rule, these commissions are not very high. You will lose not 10%, but from 3 to 5% of the total amount.

Summary of all currency change options

In our opinion, the most profitable solution is to buy rubles in Russian exchange offices. In second place, we recommend using a branch of a Russian bank. In both cases, you will save between 5 and 10% compared to what you would spend by exchanging euros for rubles in France or in another European country.

Thirdly, it is possible to withdraw rubles from a Russian ATM, but this largely depends on the conditions of your bank and the owner of the ATM.

As a rule, we always plan a break with our travelers at the exchange office. If necessary, we will help you change your euros. We can also give you our good exchange addresses that we have already tested.

Summary table of exchange rates in different places for buying rubles


Euro to ruble exchange rate

(For example, as of December 10, 2021)

Difference to stock price

Your commission for exchanging 100 euros for rubles

Russian Currency Exchange

82.71 rubles for 1 euro (example: downtown Moscow)

Russian Banking Agency

81.75 rubles for 1 euro (Sberbank example)

Russian ATM

80.50 rubles for 1 euro (simulation example of an ATM in Moscow)

May vary significantly

French exchange office

78 rubles for 1 euro (example

French bank agency

75.66 rubles for 1 euro (simulation)

From 8–10%

Pay by card in Russia

UPD dated March 28, 2022: transactions with cards of foreign banks in Russia are currently suspended due to the decision of Visa and MasterCard. This paragraph will take effect once the sanctions are lifted.

There is a very simple solution for paying in Russia without buying rubles: pay directly with a credit card. In our opinion, this is a great solution, since today there are many financial instruments that allow you to do without cash and not lose too much money on exchange commissions.

Payment in Russia with your own bank card (currently suspended)

Today, in Russia, you can pay for almost everything with a credit card, from purchases in stores and restaurants to takeaway coffee bought on the street.

Estimated fees: The exchange rate of your card payment system (Visa or Mastercard) and/or your bank, since your account is denominated in EUR or USD and you pay in RUB.

Depending on your bank and its specialization, you may need to check a lot of details. Very often, you cannot know in advance how much you will have to pay to all intermediaries, it depends on the main currency of your account, as well as on the work of your bank and its interaction with the payment system.

But in general, the fees of Visa and Mastercard systems are not excessive, approximately from 1 to 3%. The main advantage of this method is that you don't have to worry about cash anymore, which is very convenient. And in any case, you will lose much less than buying rubles in your country.

Special bank cards

There are new proposals to minimize exchange costs. For example, the Revolut service is very popular: it is an electronic bank that allows you to open an account in euros using a bank card (Visa or Mastercard). Payments in rubles there are carried out practically at the interbank rate, which is much lower than the fees of ordinary banks. This is almost equivalent to using the stock market price.

We advise you to prioritize paying by credit card at restaurants, buying theater tickets, etc. If you plan to spend a lot of money while traveling to Russia, you might want to consider a card like Revolut, which will save you money on fees for exchange.

Our recommendations

The solutions available at the moment are limited to cash payments in Russia, so you need to find the best exchange office in order to have the necessary amount in rubles for your purchases and depend in Russia. We remind you that payments in Russia are made only in rubles.

Otherwise, in life before February 24, 2022, you would be advised to give preference to paying by credit card at restaurants, buying theater tickets, etc. If you plan to spend a lot of money during your trip to Russia, it might be worth considering a card like Revolut that will save you money on exchange fees.

A little cash in rubles will come in handy for your small expenses: leave a tip, buy coffee, a postcard or a souvenir ... but remember that very often even these small expenses can be made with a card in most stores. It still doesn't hurt to have some money with you.


Some common misconceptions:

- It is better to have rubles in cash with you upon arrival.
Many blogs advise travelers to bring cash with them to pay for "inevitable expenses" such as taxis or food. But today you can do without cash, and it is quite possible to make such an expense with a credit card.

- Sometimes in Russia you can pay with euro
No! Only rubles without those accepted in Russia, no one will accept your euros. When you pay for a purchase in Russia with a card in euros or dollars, your money is converted and the amount that is debited from your card is paid to the seller in rubles.

We have compiled a list of brokers, that we recommend avoiding.

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