October 8, 2013

Currency, Cash and Credit Cards!

While many of my first blog posts (way back in 2010) have essential information for Stockholm visitors, they were written before I had really found my voice. Most of them are also in need of a serious update (information, look and links)! So I will be rewriting a few of my early posts... subjects with important information and tips for people visiting Stockholm.
Swedish kronor (crowns)
Money, money, money... always an important part of any trip. To start of with, the currency in Sweden is called the Swedish krona (or crown). Sweden does not have the Euro! It is one of three EU countries that voted against replacing their currency with the Euro (the others two being the UK and Denmark). In retrospect it seems to have been a good idea to keep the krona! The vast majority of stores, restaurants and other businesses in Sweden do not accept any other currency than kronor (plural of krona). The few exceptions are some shops in areas frequented mainly by tourists, like Gamla Stan in Stockholm, where Euros may be accepted. However, this should never be taken for granted and keep in mind that the exchange rate may not be favourable! US dollars are really not accepted anywhere. As Sweden is part of the European Union, it is not strange to ask shopkeepers if they accept Euros, but please keep in mind that Sweden is a rich, First World nation with a strong economy and currency and insisting that a shopkeeper take dollars can be seen as being insulting. Trust me, this happens.
A neighbourhood exchange office.
If switching between different currencies during your trip sounds like a bother, it is good to know that credit and debit cards are accepted practically everywhere in Sweden... from the high-end boutiques to the corner hot dog kiosks. Even taxis take plastic. In fact, most Swedes carry very little cash and use credit and debit cards for almost all transactions. So, in other words, you don't need to exchange that much cash when visiting Sweden... though it is always good to have some cash on you for emergencies. Keep also in mind that Sweden, and most of Europe for that matter, uses the chip-and-pin system (EMV) with their credit/debit cards so don't be surprised when you are asked if you have a pin number when using your card. Don't worry if you don't have a chip-and-pin card... most places still accept cards with magnetic stripes!
A Swedish ATM... the Bankomat.
There are many exchange offices in Stockholm that offer good rates. One reputable chain of exchange offices is Forex with shops spread throughout the city (including Gamla Stan, NK department store, the train station and airports). Another chain is called 24Money. Cash withdrawal machines, or ATMs, are found throughout the city as well. It is hard to miss them... they are blue and called "Bankomat". Here you can withdraw Swedish kronor using your debit or credit card at a decent exchange rate. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me for the nearest exchange office and/or Bankomat.

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