The banking system in Russia does not have a particularly good reputation, due to some major historical events in which people lost substantial sums of money and/or lost access to their funds. For example, in 1998, during the Russian Financial Crisis, private accounts at several Russian banks were frozen for a period of one month. During that time, account holders were given the option to transfer their funds to the Sberbank. Although the freezing of personal accounts is infrequent, the possibility exists, particularly in times of national financial crisis.
Debit cards (called kreditky) are common in Russia now, while credit cards are still very rare. Personal checks are not used.
Internet banking is starting to make a breakthrough, especially at international banks. For most services, you will still need to visit a branch of your bank in person. It is not commonplace to transfer money between accounts online, even your own accounts. The exception are banks targeting international clientele, who even make wire transfers available through online banking with the use of authorization tokens.
Typical banking hours are 9:00 to 18:00, but they may vary by bank, and many branches may have extended hours.
Expatriates typically select international banks with branches in Moscow. Note that in most circumstances, your employer opens an account for you (see Opening an Account). But, if you are choosing your own bank, you can easily find branches of the most widely recognized international banks, such as Barclays Bank, Raiffeisen, and CitiBank.
Most banks have Russian-speaking staff; although it’s sometimes possible to find English-speaking employees at the banks listed here:
- Absolut Banks
+7 (495) 777 71 71
Tsvetnoy Bulv 18
Closest metro: Trubnaya
- Uniastrom Bank
+7 (495) 410 98 93
Suvorovskaya Pl 1
Closest metro: Prospekt Mira
The following are other major banks in Moscow, although it may also be difficult to find English speakers:
- Bank of Moscow
- Raiffeisen Bank
There is a universal network of ATMs in Moscow. They are on every street, in every mall and in many other locations including most metros, all rail mainline terminal train stations and the airports. You can use your ATM card in any ATM irrespective of the bank, although a commission may be charged.
Some ATMs allow you to make withdrawals in EUR or USD in addition to RUR. You can also use any ATM to make a withdrawal from your home bank account, as long as your debit card is part of the Visa, Mastercard, or other internationally recognized network. Fees for such transactions will depend on both the ATM in Moscow and your home banks.