The Russian currency is called the Ruble or Rouble, and is divided into 100 kopecks or copecks.
The coin denominations are 1, 5, 10 and 50 Kopecks, plus 1, 2 and 5 Rubles.
The banknote denominations are 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 Rubles.
It is possible to obtain the Russian Ruble in the UK prior to travelling, but must be ordered in advance from a bureau de change as it is not a stocked item.
Changing money to the Russian Ruble within Russia is no problem and can be done at any official bank or bureau de change (obmen valuty) found throughout the cities and often in restaurants and shops. Banks basically set the same rates, but it is worth shopping around if you have a spare hour.
The US dollar is the most widely accepted currency in St. Petersburg and Russia, with the Euro being a close second. However saying this, in St. Petersburg and the Moscow it is possible to exchange the British pound, therefore saving you a double exchange if you were unable to purchase the Russian Ruble in the UK.
For security reasons it is always wise to take a proportion of your money in traveller’s cheques for later conversion to the Russian Ruble. The most widely accepted being those in US dollars, though it should not pose a problem to exchange sterling at the banks or large bureau de change. It is worth noting though, that the only brand that can currently be replaced if lost or stolen in St. Petersburg or Moscow are American Express.
Automatic Teller Machines (known in Russia as “bank-o-mats”) are becoming more popular in St. Petersburg and other major cities, and can be frequently found in hotels and in or around large department stores, as well as the major banks. Their menu systems have an English language option.
Note: Commission charges for the withdrawal of the Russian Ruble depends on the bank and type of card you use; most Russian banks charge 2-4% on each transaction, while your card issuing bank generally does the same, effectively creating a double commission.
Credit cards are relatively widely accepted in Russia, more so in Moscow than St. Petersburg, and not often in the rest of Russia except at large hotels and allied restaurants. The most widely accepted are Visa and Mastercard. You usually need to show your passport or other identification when paying with a credit card, so be sure to take it with you. Payments with a credit card may sometimes incur a surcharge of a couple of percent, so be sure you know what they are before you agree to the transaction.
Most Russian banks have agreements with British banks for transfers. The most convenient and readily available method is Western Union, which will transfer money in your name to specific banks in St. Petersburg. There is no limit to how many Rubles can be sent, but a commission charge is incurred at both ends. Moneygram is another method that can be used to send money to St. Petersburg and Russia from the Post Office and Thomas Cook offices in the UK.