US Credit card sanctions?

Old Feb 19, 19, 2:44 pm
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US Credit card sanctions?

Does anyone know if I can use US credit cards in Russia? I specifically want to use barclay arrival plus to book an airbnb in Russia, but a barclay representative told me that there are sanctions in place between US and Russia which might prevent me from booking any sort of travel in Russia... Is this true? So I can't use any US credit cards to book any kind of travel or lodging in Russia?
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Old Feb 19, 19, 3:14 pm
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I've only ever tried to use a Visa credit card in Russia, but never had any issues anywhere. I was in Russia as recently as last November without any problems.

Debit card-wise, I've not been able to use my Chase Debit card at Sberbank ATM's for a few years now (always displaying a declined transaction message, even though I have no fraud declinations or anything on my bank's end), but it seemed to work fine everywhere else, including VTB, which was also a target of various sanctions... so, I'm not sure what conclusion to draw in this case, exactly.
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Old Feb 19, 19, 7:14 pm
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Originally Posted by stormpelt View Post
Does anyone know if I can use US credit cards in Russia? I specifically want to use barclay arrival plus to book an airbnb in Russia, but a barclay representative told me that there are sanctions in place between US and Russia which might prevent me from booking any sort of travel in Russia... Is this true? So I can't use any US credit cards to book any kind of travel or lodging in Russia?
Not true. Once in-country, most US based cards work "OK", some better than others. I would recommend bringing several forms of payment (Visa, MC) and making a small in-person transaction once you land, to let the banks know you're physically in-country.

Cash is king, so be prepared to use plenty of that. ATMs are common, and work well.

In advance, online, it is very difficult to use US-based cards. One little-known workaround is Apple Pay - which works very well for online purchases in RU.

One last caution: Be aware that if you don't stay in a traditional hotel, you may end up wasting many, many, many hours attempting to "register" your stay with the authorities. If you stay in a traditional hotel, the hotel takes care of this for you for a very small fee.
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Old Feb 19, 19, 10:08 pm
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Sillyness

I was in Moscow the first day the sanctions stated. Seems like 4 years ago. The problems with Visa / Mastercard lasted probably a few days at most. That was at least 4 years ago.

The problem someone from the United States will encounter is the same problem you will find in Europe : the fact that most US cards are signature priority, and most do not support CHIP and PIN/ or offline PIN. Nobody in the world ( except in the US) swipes credit cards anymore, almost everyone authenticates a credit card transaction with a chip + 4 digit or more PIN. The US at least for uses Chip + Signature,. Since Russia does not get a lot of US visitors, most places outside Moscow will find it odd that you need to sign a credit card slip. Who does this? Nobody. Only people from the US.

As in Europe, you'll also find if difficult to buy train tickets from automated machines, unless you have a credit card from Barclays or a few others that support offline pin.

The international hotel chains are used to seeing American cards that need to be signed, the restaurants in Moscow will find it odd.


The other problem you will encounter is cards in Europe will text 4 digit authentication code to authenticate a transaction. Until recently it was near impossible to buy an S7 plane ticket on their website ( with a US card) because the website wanted that 4 digit code. Aeroflot 5 years ago had similar issues, all stemming for the fact that US credit cards are still stuck in the 1990s, in terms of security.

As far as I know everything works. Including JCB/Diners/Union pay, along with Visa/Mastercard/Amex of course.
Russia has an internal system called MIR which works in RU only

The hipsters in Moscow are fond of Apple Pay. PayPal also works, as does google pay.

You'll be fine.

Last edited by OpenSky; Feb 19, 19 at 10:13 pm
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Old Feb 19, 19, 10:39 pm
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Originally Posted by spongenotbob View Post

Cash is king, so be prepared to use plenty of that. ATMs are common, and work well.
That's not true. No one uses cash here.... not in Moscow/St Petersburg at least.
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Old Feb 20, 19, 7:34 am
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Originally Posted by Rami Tamimi View Post
That's not true. No one uses cash here.... not in Moscow/St Petersburg at least.
My experience too. Want an unhappy merchant - pay with cash and send him scrambling for bills to give you change.
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Old Feb 21, 19, 5:09 pm
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Cash ( Dollars) might have been king in the Yeltsin years, but that was 18-20 years ago? Times change

Contactless
Apple Pay

Is what most modern establishments in the capital use. Including my favorite bar / hangout.

The problem you will have is with CHIP and PIN if you have a US credit card. Be prepared to sign the a long scroll of paper, and some awkward stares. People are not used to it.

The one thing I like about Russia, is they are really proud of the Ruble and local legislation does not permit dynamic currency conversion, which is forced upon you if you have a Euro/Dollar card in places like Dubai etc. All payments must be made in Rubles.
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Old Feb 22, 19, 1:51 am
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Originally Posted by OpenSky View Post
Cash ( Dollars) might have been king in the Yeltsin years, but that was 18-20 years ago? Times change

Contactless
Apple Pay

Is what most modern establishments in the capital use. Including my favorite bar / hangout.

The problem you will have is with CHIP and PIN if you have a US credit card. Be prepared to sign the a long scroll of paper, and some awkward stares. People are not used to it.

The one thing I like about Russia, is they are really proud of the Ruble and local legislation does not permit dynamic currency conversion, which is forced upon you if you have a Euro/Dollar card in places like Dubai etc. All payments must be made in Rubles.
Google Pay too. I never take my wallet with me.... normally I just take the leather "cardholder",(which only has space for plastic cards) that Tinkoff Bank gave me with the card.

I think the swipe cards should be fine. Although there is a requirement for all the local banks here to equip the cards with the Chip&Pin technology (since 2014 I believe), there are still some old cards in circulation which have to be swiped. There are also some people who are ideologically against the idea of entering the PIN and who insist on swiping the card and signing the slip instead (you have to show a Passport to the merchant in this case).
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Old Feb 22, 19, 8:23 am
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Originally Posted by stormpelt View Post
Does anyone know if I can use US credit cards in Russia? I specifically want to use barclay arrival plus to book an airbnb in Russia, but a barclay representative told me that there are sanctions in place between US and Russia which might prevent me from booking any sort of travel in Russia... Is this true? So I can't use any US credit cards to book any kind of travel or lodging in Russia?
I don't think the sanctions are in place.
I recently had a problem paying for my ticket (on Aeroflot website) and hotel online using my US credit card.Despite calling to my bank and asking not to flag these transactions, the payment never went though. I called Aeroflot and was told "what do you expect, we have sanctions.."
When I tried another US card, with different bank, my payments went through just fine.
Using card in person shouldn't be a problem. Just make sure your bank is aware of you traveling for these dates and you should be fine. I would recommend to have a back up card in case something will go wrong and first card will be temporary blocked. Keep in mind transaction fee some backs are charging is something that make you rethink the usage of credit card over there,
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Old Feb 22, 19, 8:30 am
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Originally Posted by OpenSky View Post
I was in Moscow the first day the sanctions stated. Seems like 4 years ago. The problems with Visa / Mastercard lasted probably a few days at most. That was at least 4 years ago.

The problem someone from the United States will encounter is the same problem you will find in Europe : the fact that most US cards are signature priority, and most do not support CHIP and PIN/ or offline PIN. Nobody in the world ( except in the US) swipes credit cards anymore, almost everyone authenticates a credit card transaction with a chip + 4 digit or more PIN. The US at least for uses Chip + Signature,. Since Russia does not get a lot of US visitors, most places outside Moscow will find it odd that you need to sign a credit card slip. Who does this? Nobody. Only people from the US.

As in Europe, you'll also find if difficult to buy train tickets from automated machines, unless you have a credit card from Barclays or a few others that support offline pin.

The international hotel chains are used to seeing American cards that need to be signed, the restaurants in Moscow will find it odd.

The other problem you will encounter is cards in Europe will text 4 digit authentication code to authenticate a transaction. Until recently it was near impossible to buy an S7 plane ticket on their website ( with a US card) because the website wanted that 4 digit code. Aeroflot 5 years ago had similar issues, all stemming for the fact that US credit cards are still stuck in the 1990s, in terms of security.

As far as I know everything works. Including JCB/Diners/Union pay, along with Visa/Mastercard/Amex of course.
Russia has an internal system called MIR which works in RU only

The hipsters in Moscow are fond of Apple Pay. PayPal also works, as does google pay.

You'll be fine.
Very interesting discussion.... So, basically there is no way to pay with US credit card (with CHIP) if you have no PIN? I mean I have a pin for my CC, but don't want it to run as cash withdrawal. I am now concerned as last time I was in Russia I used cc few time and don't remember signing anything either nor using the PIN.

I am so lost after reading this thread... I was in Russia 1,5 y. ago and had no problem paying with cash anywhere. Some people were surprised I had cash since most locals had cards, but since I exchanged $$ I had to spend cash. This thread made me nervous about upcoming trip

Last edited by kwise; Feb 22, 19 at 8:35 am
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Old Feb 22, 19, 11:59 am
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Originally Posted by kwise View Post
So, basically there is no way to pay with US credit card (with CHIP) if you have no PIN?
This is totally possible. Chip and sign are accepted, but as you will soon discover sellers almost never ask to sign a slip. Very few read the slip and just assume it was a regular chip and pin transaction. Some of them might tell you they can't accept stripe cards. Just ignore and surprise them by swiping your card - many seller simply don't have any experience with "regular" cards.
Best still, just use Apple, Google, or Samsung pay - almost every shop in Russia accepts those (interestingly, my AmEx worked through Apple pay even in places where they didn't accept American Express).
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Old Feb 22, 19, 2:40 pm
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Originally Posted by kwise View Post
Very interesting discussion.... So, basically there is no way to pay with US credit card (with CHIP) if you have no PIN? I mean I have a pin for my CC, but don't want it to run as cash withdrawal. I am now concerned as last time I was in Russia I used cc few time and don't remember signing anything either nor using the PIN.

I am so lost after reading this thread... I was in Russia 1,5 y. ago and had no problem paying with cash anywhere. Some people were surprised I had cash since most locals had cards, but since I exchanged $$ I had to spend cash. This thread made me nervous about upcoming trip
Nothing has changed. CHIP-no-PIN cards work fine, just like they did before. The only problem you might run into is your bank deciding that the activity is fraudulent. This happens often with US issuers; thus, the advice to carry several cards from several issuers.

I doubt anyone will ever ask you to sign anything; itís just not done.
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Old Feb 23, 19, 4:59 am
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Originally Posted by luitje View Post
This is totally possible. Chip and sign are accepted, but as you will soon discover sellers almost never ask to sign a slip. Very few read the slip and just assume it was a regular chip and pin transaction. Some of them might tell you they can't accept stripe cards. Just ignore and surprise them by swiping your card - many seller simply don't have any experience with "regular" cards.
Best still, just use Apple, Google, or Samsung pay - almost every shop in Russia accepts those (interestingly, my AmEx worked through Apple pay even in places where they didn't accept American Express).
This has been my experience. Truthfully, I've made relatively few credit card purchases in Russia, as I've always traveled solo and always had cash on me to appease the one or two places that still preferred that; however, on more than one occasion when I did pay with a card, the signature slip printed with my transaction and then was promptly stuck in the cash drawer by the seller without ever requesting that I sign it. (I suspect this may have been intentional, with the deciding factor having been the lack of a pen for me to use...)
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Old Feb 23, 19, 2:06 pm
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Originally Posted by luitje View Post
This is totally possible. Chip and sign are accepted, but as you will soon discover sellers almost never ask to sign a slip. Very few read the slip and just assume it was a regular chip and pin transaction. Some of them might tell you they can't accept stripe cards. Just ignore and surprise them by swiping your card - many seller simply don't have any experience with "regular" cards.
Best still, just use Apple, Google, or Samsung pay - almost every shop in Russia accepts those (interestingly, my AmEx worked through Apple pay even in places where they didn't accept American Express).
Thank you! I guess it's time to set up a google pay.
Wondering if hotels in Russia also expecting PIN and accepting payment via google for example
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Old Feb 23, 19, 2:09 pm
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Originally Posted by spongenotbob View Post


Nothing has changed. CHIP-no-PIN cards work fine, just like they did before. The only problem you might run into is your bank deciding that the activity is fraudulent. This happens often with US issuers; thus, the advice to carry several cards from several issuers.

I doubt anyone will ever ask you to sign anything; itís just not done.
Honestly, I don't recall traveling with CHIP cards to Russia before. I either didn't even try using credit cards or had old style non-CHIP US issues cards.
I am planning to notify my banks about upcoming trip soon, so hopefully nothing will be declined.
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