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Possibly people in Irkutsk do not need much EURO?

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  • 2
    Irkutsk is a major trans-siberia hub and there would be services to convert to EUR. The drawback is a controlled rate.
    – Gayot Fow
    Oct 4 '15 at 12:14
  • People sometimes buy it to fly in Europe or to create bank-saving account in Euro.
    – VMAtm
    Oct 5 '15 at 8:08
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It's of course possible to exchange currency in Irkutsk. It's a big city with a population of some 600 thousand, roughly the size of Helsinki, Stuttgart or Lisbon, so it certainly has a lot of banks and currency exchange points, any of which can be expected to accept Euros. A brief search shows 105 exchange points in the city, you will surely be able to find one close to your location in the city, especially if you arrive by rail, which is a major transportation method there.

This is a page showing the current exchange rates for EUR in Irkutsk. The three major numbers, left-to-right, are: the central bank's exchange rate, best buy rate in the city, best sell rate in the city. As of this moment, the best rate for selling EUR is at Гринкомбанк (Grinkombank), at 74.1 rubles per Euro, with the official exchange rate of the Russian central bank being 73.63.

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  • My experience in Moscow (which you would think would be even easier than Irkutsk) was that it was easy to exchange euros to roubles, but significantly harder to go the other way... many exchanges just refused to exchange; in the airport I found a place that was willing to sell me 500€, but no smaller amount. Did I encounter a currency shortage that day, or did people just not like my face (or the fact that I didn't speak Russian -- not a problem converting the other way)?
    – Max
    Oct 7 '15 at 14:33
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    @Max, buying euros or dollars are usually not a big problem, as long as you do not need small bills (say 20 or below). 50's, 100's and 500's are usually ready available. Your experience is unusual, maybe it was due to the area you were in (maybe in airport they have shortage of currency as everybody buys it, but that'll be still strange), or maybe you tried to buy in a currency rush — with all these changes to ruble exchange rate in past 1-2 years, on some days a lot of people head for exchanges buying dollars and euros fearing that the exchange rate will soar even higher.
    – Petr
    Oct 19 '15 at 8:39
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From my experience, Euro and USD are easily convertible in major Siberian cities, in both directions (and you can get a decent rate with some searching, although exchange rates and commissions do vary a lot). All other currencies are much more of a problem.

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You will not trade with people, you'll deal with banks. Most of them, probably all, will provide currency exchange service.

However, in the recent years more and more shops, hotels and restaurants began to accept international bank cards (Master Card and Visa). I was surprised when even a small shop in a tiny village on Baikal coast allowed to pay by card. Taking this into account, you may not need to exchange a large sum of money: currency exchange will be performed transparently.

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