Prices at restaurants and shops are often listed in U.S. dollars. In most cases payment is in Russian rubles. Credit cards are only useful in Western hotels, high-end restaurants and some Western shops.
Russian prices are considerably lower than those in more developed countries, but if you don't speak Russian and want to live as a Westerner, Moscow can be a very expensive city.
500 ml of Russian beer:
Non-pirated compact disc:
10-minute cab ride:
One trip on the Metro:
Moscow-St. Petersburg train (round trip):
Lunch at a Western-style pizza chain:
Weeknight at the Marriott Grand:
Big Mac Value Meal at McDonald's:
Issue of The Economist:
Average cost of parterre seats at the Bolshoi:
(purchased through a scalper):
The easiest way to get rubles is to change U.S. dollars.
Russians tend to keep their savings in dollars hidden under their mattresses, so the country is filled with obmen valyuti, or exchange booths. These foot soldiers of the Russian economy are about two to a corner in most major cities and usually have better rates than banks. Other currencies can be exchanged in Moscow and St. Petersburg , although not as readily or as cheaply.
ATMs are widely available in Moscow , St. Petersburg and to a lesser extent in other big cities.
During the fall of 1999 and the winter of 2000 there were reports of theft from accounts in which a card had been used in a Russian ATM. Banks and credit card companies say they have since taken steps to increase security. One way to avoid ATM fraud is to take your ATM card to a teller window and get a cash advance. This is often a more expensive than using an ATM, but some banks charge little or no commission. Another way to avoid fraud is to use a foreign bank with a retail branch in Moscow . Two options are:
4 Romanov Perulok, Building 4
Bank Austria Creditanstalt
10/2 Bolshaya Dmitrovka Ul., Building 4
Other Ways of Getting Cash
21A Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya Ul.
Cashes traveler's checks, holds mail and has an American Express ATM in the lobby.
Many Moscow banks will receive a wire transfer. Call Western Union at 797-2194 to find out which is the closest.