Generally, living in Moscow is less expensive than in any other developed-world capital, but the cost of living depends on many factors here including deep social stratification which is responsible for a wide price dispersion. To plan your budget, see relevant section of this guide or other updated and reliable sources for current prices.
All payments in Russia should be made in Russian roubles also known as RUR or ₽. Moscow does not lag behind other European capitals in terms of non-cash settlements, as some obsolete sources claim. Most retailers accept Visa, MasterCard and Maestro cards. American Express and less popular cards are not common payment instruments in Russia, but some sellers accept them too. Cases like “Cash only, sir, the pin pad is out of order” are not frequent.
In 2017, Russia launched its national payment system called Mir. Now almost all retailers in Moscow accept these cards, but you may not use them outside Russia unless they are linked to an international payment system.
At times, you will need some cash to pay street vendors, taxi drivers, to buy public transport tickets and use public toilets.
Numerous currency exchange offices buy the US dollars, euros and other major currencies at prices close to current official rates.
Banks do not usually charge any commission for currency exchange operations. For the best deals with the US dollars and euros, scroll the List of banks and their current exchange rates. Sometimes, advertised rates may apply to large amounts only (usually over 1,000 dollars or euros.)
Passport is required if the amount of a currency exchange transaction exceeds 15,000 roubles.
Most cash machines have an English menu. Avoid ATMs located outside banks, large shopping centres or other secure places. Cash machines may charge commission for all operations if your card is issued by a bank other than the cash machine’s operator.
When setting up a bank account in Russia, do not be lured by high interest rates and select a reliable international financial institution like Citi or Raiffeisen, or a well-established Russian lender like Sberbank or Alfa Bank. You will need your passport with a valid visa, migration card, registration and, possibly, other documents.
Interest rates in Russia are materially higher than in other developed economies, but risks are also very high.
So far, Russian authorities do not regulate bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency turnover.