After the introduction of sanctions at the end of February, VISA and MasterCard cards issued by Russian banks became useless abroad. Tourists began to solve this problem and soon found out that you can pay, for example, with UnionPay cards. Other methods have also emerged. However, in practice they do not always work. The travelers themselves share their experience accumulated over a couple of months.
Armor with a gap
First of all, independent tourists have to take care of where to stay abroad. You can book a hotel using Russian services. They accept payment in rubles, then convert it into foreign currency and make payments. But the choice of hotels is still very limited.
You can choose the right option with the help of the foreign service Booking.com that has stopped working in Russia. However, it will not be possible to pay for a reservation through this service using Russian bank cards.
Mastercard or Visa cards are not valid, even if they are issued by an unauthorized bank. “I tried to book a hotel in Tallinn, verification failed,” writes Vladislav in one of the forums. It all depends on the specific hotel. Some of them perform bank card verification, while others just don’t, the user suggests.
Another option is to search for hotels without paying, book and then pay on the spot in cash. But even here there may be difficulties. For example, traveler Marina told RG that she booked a hotel in France on Booking.com without a card. However, an hour later I received a letter in the mail that the hotel was canceling the reservation. Cancelled, apparently, nationally, she says.
However, there are always hotels with which you can directly negotiate a reservation without prepayment, and pay cash on the spot, say travelers. In this case, they may even give a discount. Write directly to the hotel. For example, we managed to negotiate a card-free reservation with Radisson in Helsinki, says Alexander, who visited Finland in April, on his page on one of the social networks. Of course, I had to spend some time and effort on correspondence, he admits.
In the same way you can act during trips to Asia. For example, in Thailand they accept cash payments on the spot. In addition, by booking directly at the hotel by phone or by mail, you can even get a “tastier price” than when booking and save up to 400 baht per day, another eyewitness reports.
But in the US, this is more difficult, Anna shares. It is possible to arrange payment on the spot. But when registering, hotels, as a rule, take a deposit, blocking the money on the card. You can send a link for online payment. However, it is not clear how to do it from a Russian card, says the traveler. Friends, she says, faced the same problem in the Dominican Republic. There, moreover, with a full prepayment of the hotel stay, they refused to settle due to the impossibility of freezing the deposit of a non-working card.
What about UnionPay?
Cards of the Chinese payment system in Russia were perceived as a lifeline. True, it is not always possible to pay for a hotel booked from Russia with such a card. “Yesterday I requested UnionPay without a name. Booking does not skip payments,” says one of the users of the forum for travelers. The bank’s support service ensures that everything should work, she says. But there is already disappointment. “Don’t rush to open anti-crisis UnionPay now, especially for money,” she advises.
But for settlements abroad, according to travelers, such a card is quite suitable. But then again, it doesn’t always work, and it doesn’t work everywhere. And this applies to cards issued by various Russian banks.
“I opened a UnionPay card in March,” says Vladimir, a traveler and RG reader. In May, he tried to pay for a purchase with it at a UnionPay terminal in the Maldivian capital Male. The card did not work, although there is money on it.
You can pay with a UnionPay card, but cash is safer
But everything turned out to be not so clear. “Now I calculated a week’s stay in a hotel in the Maldives, and payment with the same card went smoothly at our Russian rate,” Vladimir shares.
UnionPay also works periodically in Sri Lanka. “I paid several times in cafes. Everything went well,” she tells RG Svetlana, who went on vacation in April. It is true that the exchange rate for such a non-cash payment was worse than converting currency to cash, she adds. When paying by card, I had to pay 10-15% more.
In Thailand, they managed to pay with a UnionPay card at a supermarket, but the payment failed at a gas station, another traveler told RG. Apparently, the success of payments does not depend on the UnionPay system itself, but on whether this or that organization is connected to it, he suggests.
UnionPay can also work in Europe. For example, according to the comments of the user of one of the social networks Vladislav, in mid-April they managed to withdraw the amount of 100 Bosnian marks from the personalized ruble card in Bosnia. 4.9 thousand rubles were debited from the account. Neither the Russian nor the Bosnian bank took commission, the tourist tickets. He then changed the marks to the European currency. The exchange rate was 95.89 rubles per euro. Note that at that time the official exchange rate of the Bank of Russia was 88 rubles per euro.
With success, according to travelers, it was possible to withdraw cash and pay for purchases in Cyprus in April. The commission for cash withdrawals was around 2%.
UnionPay cards seem to work better in Turkey. “I tried to pay with UnionPay Mir in Turkey, the payment went through,” the traveler Vyacheslav, who recently returned from Istanbul, shares in one of the forums.
At the end of April, the traveler Galina also visited Istanbul. UnionPay card did not work in the hotel. True, the staff immediately offered to make a “good” map, she writes in one of the forums for travelers. She rejected the offer. And then she freely paid with her card in the market, in a souvenir shop, in a restaurant on the waterfront. The card worked everywhere.
However, so far tourists do not have as many UnionPay cards, Ekaterina, the manager of one of the travel agencies, shares her observations with RG.
go with peace
However, in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, it is quite possible to pay with the Mir card. In the United Arab Emirates, they even offer to issue such cards to visiting tourists from Russia, says travel agent Elena.
But in other countries the card will not work. “In fact, it turned out that Mir cards are generally not accepted in Hanoi,” writes a forum user who visited Vietnam in mid-April. According to him, the VRB ATM does not accept Mir cards for the service without explanation. “Employees at the central branch of the bank in Hanoi conferred for 10 minutes before answering the question whether the bank accepts Mir cards. They examined the card with surprise, as if for the first time. As a result, they confirmed that Mir cards they were not accepted by the bank. The payment also does not work at the points of sale, “he shares. “Mir card in Vietnam is useless just like VISA and MasterCard cards issued by Russian banks.”
Failed to pay for purchases with Gazprombank’s Mir Maestro card and traveler Sergey in Yerevan. “He wrote in support of the bank: the standard answer: the cards should work,” he says on his page on the social network.
Most likely, VISA and MasterCard cards issued by foreign banks will work without problems abroad. The main question is how to get them. Tourists now receive such cards mainly in neighboring countries – Uzbekistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan. However, the rules are constantly changing, in some cases it becomes more difficult to get a card. For example, Kazakhstan now requires the production of an employment contract, a travel forum user wrote on May 4.
In general, tourists now rely mostly on cash, said Sergei Golov, president of the Union of Travel Agents, in an interview with RG.
On the way
Photo: Alexander Ryumin/TASS
World cards will work in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan authorities plan to start accepting bank cards from the Russian Mir payment system in 2022, Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Professor Janita Abeivikrema Liyanage said.
“We are working so that the Mir card is added to the cards that can be used when arriving in our country,” said the diplomat. He noted that the problem has now been resolved, and in 2022, Russian residents will be able to start using Mir in Sri Lanka.
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