Money advice - St. Petersburg

Whilst credit cards have become a symbol of wealth in Russia, and use of them is on the rise, there are still many shops where your flexible friend is as much use as a bucket that's full of holes. If you're shopping for Western brands or paying for a mid-to-high range hotel by all means whip out your Visa or Mastercard; but if you're souvenir shopping off the beaten track best have some roubles handy.

Hard cash is still the preferred method of payment for the Russians, although the use of credit cards and debit cards are becoming increasingly widespread. Technically speaking it is illegal to pay for anything in Russia in anything but roubles - although if you've got a fistful of American dollars you're unlikely to struggle making any purchase. Obviously exchange rates vary according to the wavering fortunes of economies but as a rough guide you'll get 25-30 roubles for your U.S Dollar, 30-35 for your Euro and 45-50 for that sound British pound.

ATMs (Cash Machines)

ATMs are an increasingly common sight in St. Petersburg, and what's more, some of them even work. If you're heading out to the sticks then best withdraw some money in advance, but if you're just planning on bumming around in the centre of town then you won't struggle to track down one of those sublime vending machines - most of which will offer you an English menu.

Cheques

Get out of the stone ages!

Bureaux de Change

Exchange rates can vary a fair bit in St. Petersburg so it's worth shopping around for a good one - particularly if you're planning on exchanging a big old sum. If you want a safe bet, the exchange points on Nevsky Prospekt are competitive and professional. Although you're unlikely to be ripped off, always do the maths first so you know how much you are expecting to get! You are required to show your passport when exchanging money.

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