How to transfer money to and from Russia

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It’s not as difficult as it may appear at first sight.

1. Debit card to debit card

Most banks around the world allow their customers to make money transfers abroad from corresponding mobile apps. And most Russian banks allow this, as well. All a person needs to send money from his bank account to someone with an account in a foreign bank is the latter’s debit card number and a name.

Using the bank’s mobile app and the necessary information, transferring money abroad from Russia is very easy these days. 

The same principle applies often when transferring money from abroad to Russia. As a rule, banks charge a small commission for each transfer. Each bank may have different regulations, but often a fee is a certain percentage of the amount transferred.

2. Western Union and other financial services

Western Union, TransferWise, and other similar services operate in Russia. They facilitate the wiring of money in and out of the country. Just visit this website or a website of a similar service and follow the instructions. Beware though, as these services’ commission can be higher in some cases.

3. PayPal

Sending money via PayPal to a person in Russia or billing a client from Russia via the service is as easy as it gets. Just link your card or a bank account to your PayPal and you are all set. PayPal’s commission is relatively high, however. The service may charge anything from 0.4 percent to 3.4 percent of the transferred amount, depending on conditions of the transfer.

Besides, transferring money via PayPal within Russia is not possible as the service stopped this feature for Russian clients at the end of July 2020.

4. Direct deposit

Most banks, foreign and local, allow clients to deposit money to any other bank’s accounts in or outside Russia in a local bank office. To transfer money this way you must have all necessary info: the beneficiary’s name, beneficiary’s account, beneficiary bank and a SWIFT-code. This info can easily be obtained either at a bank website or on a mobile app. The main shortcoming of this method is that often it takes a few days for the money to arrive in the recipient’s account.

Most banks also charge commission for this service: Russia’s Sberbank, for example, allows deposits of 50,000 rubles (approx. $677) or less free of charge, but charges 1 percent of any sum above that.

5. E-wallets

E-wallets are a method of money transfer that has become more popular in recent years. In Russia, a popular e-wallet is Qiwi. The service allows its users to transfer a limited amount of money to anyone who also has an e-wallet at the same company or even of a different one.

Qiwi charges a commission fee of 2 percent of the sum, plus a set fee of 50 or 100 rubles (approx. $0.68 to $1.35) per a transfer. This method also restricts anonymous payments that go beyond 15,000 rubles (approx. $200). A list of other available e-wallets can be found here.

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