on December 9, 2014 on 12/9/14 from ,

The Color of Money

I thought it might be worthwhile to mention what I’ve learned about money/banks/credit card usage here in Sweden.  Swedish currency is called krona, or crown in English, and it’s a lot prettier than dollars!  At the time of this writing, $1 = 7, 51 SEK.   A trip to a bank or currency exchange to get kronors will be necessary for using cash in Sweden.  This can be done in the US, but the rate is better if exchanged here.

Currency exchanges offer lower fees than banks, and unless your home bank has an agreement with a Swedish bank (or your bank has a branch in Sweden you can access) you could have fees for ATM and teller withdrawals from your home bank. These fees vary bank to bank and I’ve heard everything from flat fees for ATM withdrawals (as my bank does) to fees of up to 10%.  These fees can be in addition to whatever the ATM bank/company charges, so you have to check that out before you use your card.

About cards…

Almost everywhere in Ó¦rebro accepts credit cards – MasterCard and VISA.  There are not many places that will take American Express or Discover outside of the larger hotels and resorts.  Most of Europe uses credit cards that have a chip embedded in them instead of the magnetic strips most American cards use.  You can use your card with the magnetic stripe, but you’ll have to “swipe” it, and you use your PIN.  VISA and MasterCard may charge fees for using your card internationally, so it’s good to check that with your card issuer.  Additionally, you may not be able to get cash back from purchases using your card, even if you have one with a chip.  From what I can tell, this varies by card issuer as well as local merchant so it’s probably better (and safer) to just get cash from an ATM or bank location. Debit cards with a VISA symbol seem to work just fine for purchases and ATMs, but no cash back at local merchants.

One last thing, I’ve learned that cash that has any type of mark, writing or staining will probably be refused by merchants, currency exchanges, and banks in Sweden.  There seems to be some general belief that bills that have been marked are possibly stolen (as in from a bank robbery). I thought this was just a rule for foreign bills, but my housemate discovered a few weeks ago that it applies to Swedish krona also.  So don’t write on your Swedish money!