The best way to pay in Russia is by debit or credit card, although it is important to have some cash in rubles when arriving in Russia for small expenses in kiosks (water, coffee, food or small purchases), taxi or to leave tips. I always calculate about 1,000 rubles per person per day.
- You can exchange rubles before going on a trip with online services such as Travelex (they send the rubles by mail to your address) or you can also make the currency exchange when you arrive in Russia through a bank or through an ATM.
For all other expenses (accommodation, museum tickets, opera, theater, circus, shops or public transport) I always recommend using your bank card since both Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Russia and apply a good exchange rate.
- The card that I use to pay in Russia and that applies the best exchange rate is the Revolut prepaid card. This card uses the real exchange rate in more than 150 currencies (including the ruble) and there are no hidden fees.
- This card allows to withdraw at ATMs in Russia up to about 15,000 rubles a month without commissions. You can recharge this card in many ways: with your bank card, by bank transfer, with Apple Pay, with PayPal, etc.
- In addition, you can obtain a free Revolut card through this link, by entering your phone number. They ship worldwide.
- This card can be obtained free of charge since your income comes from the commission MasterCard charges merchants and the additional payment services offered in its premium version. I have always used the free card and I had no problems paying in Russia.
My recommendation: take at least two cards to Russia, your bank card and the Revolut card. Try to make all payments using the Revolut card, everything will be cheaper.