Foreign Exchange Guide to Russia
In this guide we review :
- Russian ruble info - general info about the Russian ruble
- Russian ruble in the markets - recent RUB moves and predictions from the FX markets
- Travelling in Russia - currency & money saving tips
- Buying Russian ruble cash online - travel money for Russia
- Sending money to Russia - save on Russian ruble bank transfers to Russia
- Russian ruble exchange rates - latest info & charts.
Russian ruble (RUB) general currency information
Reputedly, the Russian ruble has been in existence in one form or another for nearly 800 years, and as such is one of the world’s oldest national currencies. A single ruble unit is subdivided into 100 kopeks.
Contributing to around 1% of all foreign exchange deals, the ruble is the world’s seventeenth most traded currency.
The value of the ruble is heavily influenced by commodities prices since Russia’s top exports include oil, natural gas and metals.
In recent years, the most significant event to affect the ruble’s valuation came in the second half of 2014 with the introduction of economic sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. These sanctions, together with a 50% drop in the oil price in the same period, led to a ruble collapse. The ruble lost nearly 60% of its value against the US dollar between July and mid-December 2014.
Since 2000, the ruble’s highest valuation against the dollar occurred in July 2008 when USD/RUB fell to just 23.05. Its lowest value came in January 2016 when USD/RUB reached 85.97.
As an emerging market currency, the ruble is considered riskier than the “FX majors,” which means that it is likely to fall in value against those currencies (especially JPY, USD, CHF, EUR and GBP) during periods of significant economic uncertainty or high market volatility, or when global geopolitical risk is elevated.
Russian ruble (RUB) in the markets
In late October, the Russian ruble fell to an eight-week low against the dollar (a USD/RUB high) of 58.707 after the Russian central bank lowered interest rates to 8.25%, from 8.5%. It was the fifth time in 2017 that the bank had reduced the cost of borrowing. The ruble weakened despite the decision being widely expected. The Bank of Russia have cut rates with the goal of boosting growth and inflation; the latter having fallen well below the bank’s target in the third quarter.
Against the dollar, the ruble now stands close to the midpoint of its 2014-2017 range. The Russian currency has appreciated nearly 50% against the greenback since January 2016, although that masks to a great extent its massive losses between 2014 and then. Overall, since 2014, the ruble has lost 44% of its value against USD (lost 33% against the euro).
Looking ahead, HSBC see the ruble weakening to 61.0 per dollar by the end of 2018. Further ruble weakness will be driven by monetary policy. Interest rates in Russia will continue to fall, “but modestly so,” said Citi economist Ivan Tchakarov in October. The economist thought that the Bank of Russia would switch from a “moderately tight” bias to a neutral bias sometime in 2019.
Russia currency and money saving tips
Russian food is plentiful, home cooked, and delicious. Soups are very good. The bread is delicious. Food in the supermarkets is plentiful and reasonably priced. There is a wide variety of teas, chocolates, dairy products, produce, candies, and vodka. Carry plenty of cash. Card readers may not work when you need them, nor may ATMs. Many businesses accept only cash. Taxis do not take credit cards.Russian power outlets take round 2-pin Euro plugs. A flat Euro plug adapter don't usually fit into the socket. Current is 220V.
Renting a car is a good option, however almost all signs are only in Russian. Allow lots of time at the airport, even for domestic flights. Security and check in are inefficient and the lines move slowly. Be sure to make time for flights, Russian airports do not seem as tolerant of lateness as most. Be sure your frequent flier numbers are in your reservation; the desk clerk you get may not have a clue on how to enter one, especially for a codeshare flight.
Russia Trip Checklist
Travel money for Russia
Save money and time by Ordering your Russian ruble online from Travelex, you get better rates and can pick up the RUB cash locally or even on travel day at the airport.
Another popular option is to use a Pre-paid Travel Card. Your Debit/Credit Card provider will charge you 2% from market mid-rate, but your bank may also charge an extra 3% as an “Overseas Transaction Charge” plus “Overseas ATM” fees for withdrawing cash.
For card purchases if offered a choice of currencies always select to Pay in Russian ruble otherwise you may get much worst exchange rates.
Sending money to Russia
When sending money to Russia it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers. To get a better deal you should follow these 3 simple steps :
- Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
- You specify the local or Russian ruble amount you want to transfer
- Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
- Once your funds are received by the provider the converted RUB amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in Russia.
By comparing the rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more - end result is more Russian ruble deposited into the recipient bank account in Russia and less margins and fees kept by the banks!