Author Topic: Money for trip to St. Petersburg  (Read 5888 times)

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Offline troynm

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Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« on: April 16, 2006, 11:21:01 PM »
I am going to St. Petersburg in June and I am not sure in what form to take money. I have heard that there are a lot of ATM's over there. I will of course have my Visa card.  Are travelers checks accepted? I am staying at a cash only Bed & Breakfast so I need funds for that and also I have a car and driver, I'm sure that will be cash as well.

Offline Ra-Ra-Rasputin

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2006, 06:36:03 AM »
When I went to Russia we were told to take US dollars with us, cash. Not roubles. Of course you can take roubles with you, but our travel agent told us we would be better off taking dollars.  This was three years ago now though so the situation may have changed.

ATMs abroad charge you to take out money, so you could end up spending $2 or $3 per transaction, and if you're taking out money every day, it adds up.

I took US dollars with me and just locked up the money in my room safe that I didn't need each day.  I changed up the dollars I wanted to take out with me for roubles in my hotel bureau de change (most hotels have these inside) and kept some dollars on me for market stalls, as market stall holders prefer you to pay them in dollars because of the favourable exchange rate.

I would also take a credit card for emergencies and large purchases in stores, but I would avoid drawing out money from ATMs because of the hidden charges.

Rachel
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2006, 06:08:27 AM »
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 ... but I would avoid drawing out money from ATMs because of the hidden charges.

Rachel
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Russian rubles are not available outside of Russia.

Travelers checks are useless in Russia.

You do not require USD anymore, in fact it is illegal to use foreign currency inside the country for transactions.

Once inside Russia, the bank ATM will offer you the daily cash you require. I never had problems using ATM's during the day on a busy street. Some have a glass door that is lockable from the inside with overhead security cameras. ATM's are less common outside the larger cities, especially in small villages. Exchange rates vary between facilities.

CC's are more common but some restaurants, despite the sign, insist on cash, thus some persuasive discussion may be necessary to receive a more favorable outcome.
 :)


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Offline M_Breheny

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2006, 04:21:29 PM »
I had no problem finding ATM machines in St. Petersburg.  In fact, even smaller Russian towns (such as Yaraslavl or Uglich) have ATM machines. The machines are easy to use -- just select English.   I took several hundred American dollars, most of which which I exchanged for rubles in St. P.  Any money I wasn't using was locked in the safe in our room.  As for using American money, sometimes I gave $$ as tips to tour bus drivers and/or guides but never paid in anything except rubles at street bazaars, etc.  Most shops and restaurants will take credit cards.   As others have written in their posts,  travelers' checks are useless in Russia and roubles can not be obtained outside of Russia.  

Have a great trip.

Mary  

David_Pritchard

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2006, 05:33:45 PM »
I can tell you that in my thirty or more visits to Saint Petersburg, I never had any trouble spending cash, be it dollars, roubles, Finnish Marks or Deutsch Marks. I did find it difficult to cash travelers cheques and use the ATMs. Many US banks will not allow access to accounts from Russian ATM machines because of fraud. If you want to use your US ATM card in Russia, it is a wise thing to notify your bank as to the dates that you will be in Russia so that you account will be permitted access during your visit.

As for the use of foreign currency being illegal, it always has been so, but I have spent over 100,000 USD there in cash without any police interference. There is an old saying, "In Russia all things are illegal but in Russia all things are possible". Do watch out for the Gypsies, Sigan in Russian, they will rob you. Do not be afraid of assulting them vigorously to prevent the loss of your wallet, passport and visa.

David

Offline M_Breheny

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2006, 04:20:17 PM »
I am sorry I failed to add that you do have to contact your bank before you leave to let them know you will be using your ATM card in Russia, as David wrote.  Also, let your credit card holders know the same thing.

Offline Belochka

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2006, 01:35:44 AM »
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I am sorry I failed to add that you do have to contact your bank before you leave to let them know you will be using your ATM card in Russia, as David wrote.  Also, let your credit card holders know the same thing.

Perhaps this condition may only apply to U.S. citizens?

I have never had to take such action - just board a plane with my plastic collection in hand.

Perhaps if unusually large sums of money are moved abroad, then yes one is compelled to inform the bank, to prevent "alerts" or closure of that account. However what is considered broad daily usage of CC's by the ordinary private person then there is no need to inform the bank.
:)
 


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Offline Scott

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2006, 01:49:56 AM »
I used ATM's in SPB during September 2005, without any problem, and without prior notification to my bank.  I have, however, had my bank "turn off" my credit card at least twice while in France, because of no prior notification.

Offline Belochka

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2006, 02:32:05 AM »
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I used ATM's in SPB during September 2005, without any problem, and without prior notification to my bank.  I have, however, had my bank "turn off" my credit card at least twice while in France, because of no prior notification.

Thanks for confirming that St. P was not problematic for you either.

I had no problems in France, but once I had attempted to use an ATM that appeared functional during the early morning, in Canterbury, England. It turned out to be faulty and refused to hand out the cash requested, and then proceeded to damage but not destroy the CC.


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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2006, 06:25:05 AM »
I have just returned from my 3rd visit in just over one year atms & cc's are more common than ever ! I did not use one  £,$ or € that I had taken with me.
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2006, 07:59:49 AM »
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I have just returned from my 3rd visit in just over one year atms & cc's are more common than ever ! I did not use one  £,$ or € that I had taken with me.

Welcome back Robert,

I guess that settles it. Rubles rule in Russia!
:D


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Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2006, 11:40:57 AM »
Quote
Quote
I am sorry I failed to add that you do have to contact your bank before you leave to let them know you will be using your ATM card in Russia, as David wrote.  Also, let your credit card holders know the same thing.

Perhaps this condition may only apply to U.S. citizens?

I have never had to take such action - just board a plane with my plastic collection in hand.

Perhaps if unusually large sums of money are moved abroad, then yes one is compelled to inform the bank, to prevent "alerts" or closure of that account. However what is considered broad daily usage of CC's by the ordinary private person then there is no need to inform the bank.
:)
 

I am a US citizen and have been to Russia several times, and I never heard of this practice. I was able to withdraw money many times from the ATM's, and it was exactly the same systmen as anywhere else and I didn't have to contact my bank or anything like that... With credit cards it gets a little tricky in Russia, because some places that are not completely touristy will not accept them, but big stores usually do. You do have to present  your passport when you use a credit card, even when it is for a small amount like $30. This was very annoying because I don't generally like to carry my passport with me in order not to lose it, but apparently in Russia this is common practice. So several times, even when I found a place that accepted credit cards, I could not use mine because I didn't have my passport with me, and this is why I ended up using the ATMs every few days! But again, I never had to say a word to my bank about it, I was just able to use it freely...

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2006, 04:06:16 AM »
Interesting, Helen. I have never been asked for my passport [except at the hotel registration] even when I buy rather costly books by cc.
I would not recommend anyone take large sums of any currency, especially in summertime, when tourist crime is high- in ANY big city, not just Russia.
Also, I was told to always carry my passport- even though I do not like to either. But, the police can ask for it at anytime, although no one ever has asked.
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2006, 04:54:02 AM »
Quote
Interesting, Helen. I have never been asked for my passport [except at the hotel registration] even when I buy rather costly books by cc.
I would not recommend anyone take large sums of any currency, especially in summertime, when tourist crime is high- in ANY big city, not just Russia.
Also, I was told to always carry my passport- even though I do not like to either. But, the police can ask for it at anytime, although no one ever has asked.

Most hotels secure your passport for the first few days anyway.

I have never been asked for my passport anywhere either but then I do not look or sound like a foreigner in Russia
.
  ::)


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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Money for trip to St. Petersburg
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2006, 05:20:30 AM »
My friend & guide took his Russian passport on our train journey to/from Moscow. He said the police would ask for it when checking the tickets. No one ever did though. The fact that we did go business class on the Red Line might have had something to do with that !
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.