The Russian Ruble is the official currency in Russia and its capital Moscow. It is a myth from the 1990-s that one can hang around Moscow with a pack of dollars and even receive change in a taxi. So here is some general information about what you will need to have with you to successfully pay.
The money culture is changing in Moscow and more and more places have started to accept credit cards. Fast food places, metro ticket offices, some souvenir shops and taxi drivers will certainly ask for cash.We recommend asking the waiter in the restaurant beforehand whether it is ok to pay with a card.
On the whole, we recommend using your card for hotels and restaurants and reserve some cash for little purchases and for covering transport costs.
The Euro and US Dollar are the most exchangeable currencies in Moscow and can be exchanged in every exchange office. We recommend sticking to these currencies because it might be a problem to find a bank that exchanges pounds or Canadian dollars.
Moscow has a large amount of foreign exchange offices. So you could shop around for a better rate. Some of the exchange offices might keep a commission. There are plenty of exchange offices that are open 24/7 downtown. Airport foreign exchange offices also tend to charge a higher commission.
Visa and MasterCard are accepted in almost any ATM, more rarely Visa Electron and Cirrus/Maestro whilst AmEx and Diners Club owners might have problems with cas withdrawal. There are plenty of ATMs (called «BANKOMAT» in Russian) downtown, inside metro stations, shopping malls, office buildings, in banks and at airports, where one can withdraw cash at a low flat rate. But it is always worth checking. Major credit cards like Visa and Master Card are also widely accepted in shops, in a large number of restaurants and supermarkets. But we recommend checking beforehand whether it is ok to pay using a card.
Travellers’ Cheques are not that easy to exchange in Moscow as in other countries. The most widely accepted ones are American Express and more rarely Thomas Cook. American Express would be the best bet and can be changed at their offices 21A, Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya Street near Mayakovskaya Metro Station (tel: +7 (495) 933 8432). Neverless, we recommend avoiding using travellers’ cheques because it’s not a common service in Moscow. Cash and credit cards are much more relaible.