Using a Russian Bank Account
Find out about the products and services available from banks in Russia, plus bank opening times…
In Russia a bank account is a gateway to many services including:
- Account services (savings, card-to-card transfers, money deposits)
- Utility payments
- Payments for car tax and other taxes
- Payments of bills for Internet, TV and telephone (landline and mobile services)
- Some types of insurance payments
- Donation to charities
- Credit payments
- FOREX trading
- Mortgage payments
- Payments into various types of deposit and savings accounts
Direct debits are also used in Russia, with most people having one account from which money is withdrawn to pay the bills. Alternatively, it is possible to open a basic current account from which to pay for utilities, taxes and all bills. This requires checking and replenishing regularly to avoid a payment bounce. Eligibility for specific accounts or services needs to be confirmed with the bank.
Banks in Russia normally operate on Monday to Friday from either 08:30 to 19:30, or from 09:00 or 10:00 to between 18:00 and 20:00. Saturday is a short day, normally from 10:00 to 14:00. Banks are closed on Sunday and national holidays. ATMs and online banking are available at all times.
Online and Telephone Banking
Both options are very popular in Russia, especially online banking. Online banking is increasingly available in both Russian and English, for instance, at RosBank. Customers can manage accounts, transfer money, pay for utilities and bills and donate to charities. If online banking cannot be accessed for any reason, ATMs also offer some services. For some banks it is possible for customers with multiple accounts to access all accounts via the same online banking interface.
In all major cities in Russia, ATMs (bankomat / ????????) can be found on main streets, in large stores and shopping centres, at most metro and rail stations and at branches of banks. There is normally a choice of using machines in either Russian or English, while some also offer French and German. International credit cards can also be used in ATMs and some machines may dispense cash in foreign notes or show balance in dollars or euros.
Withdrawing cash from an ATM of another bank is not charged by the ATM’s bank, but there may be a charge from the bank where the account is held. For example, Sberbank charges a nominal fee for the withdrawal of money, balance requests or issuing a brief statement.
ATMs of the bank where the account is held can also be used to check the balance of an account or print a statement (fees may be charged, depending on the bank), to pay off a credit card or to deposit money into an account. In this case there is no need to fill in a deposit slip, money is fed into a port on the machine and instantly credited to the account.
Cheques are not widely used in Russia, with the preferred methods of bank payments being transfers or cash. If a cheque needs to be cashed, the bank typically charges a commission that varies according to the sum and the currency of a cheque.
Credit and Debit Cards
Foreign residents can apply for a credit card or debit card at most Russian banks. During the economic crisis in 2008, banks all but stopped issuing credit cards, but they are now available again. The terms and conditions for credit vary from bank to bank. In addition to a traditional credit check, a ‘residency check’ is likely to be run to establish:
- the size of the customer’s household
- the length of time at the most recent address
- the customer's property and possessions in Russia
- the length of time planned for the stay in Russia
The amount of credit given will depend on the above assessment. A decision is usually made instantly, although a credit card may not be issued straight away and will arrive in the post after a week to ten days. If a customer is not a permanent resident of Russia, validity of the card will expire at the end of the intended stay in the country.
International credit cards are also accepted in Russia.
Dealing with card loss
If a credit or debit card is lost or stolen, the branch of the bank where the account was opened must be called as soon as possible to cancel the card. If the loss occurred out of working hours or the banker's English is insufficient, call the general helpline of the bank and ask to talk to an English-speaker. In case of theft, it must also be reported to the police and a report filed.
A customer can request to receive statements by post (which may take a while to arrive) or by email. Alternatively they can be printed out at an ATM, for which there may be a minimal charge. Bank statements are laid out in a straight-forward format, listing the latest transactions and withdrawals with the dates and names of agents (ATM number or business name). Alternatively, online banking is an easy and convenient way of keeping an eye on incomings and outgoings.