Credit cards around the world: Russia

Our series moves to Russia, where credit cards are becoming more popular in a traditionally cash-driven society.


Credit report

Credit card circulation explosion
There were 91 million debit cards and 12 million credit cards in circulation in Russia at the end of 2007. That means that credit card penetration has grown nearly 20-fold in four years (Euromonitor International).

Still a cash society
Credit card acceptance remains sparse beyond big cities. Plus, "many holders use them like debit cards to get cash" rather than to buy goods. (The Banker, July 2008).

Selling Russians on using plastic
Card companies and issuers have begun a major credit card push, including MasterCard's sponsorship of UEFA's Champions League final in Moscow in May. For that reason, the Russian credit card market is expected to near US$10 billion by yearend, according to Esmerk.

Confronting the credit crunch
Russians are feeling the pinch of the world credit crisis. One bank has instituted a cash advance limit on its credit cards. Others "have had to impose withdrawal limits, raise rates, increase credit checks and more."

Cards and crime

A troubling reputation
Along with some of its Eastern European neighbors and Pakistan, Russia has a reputation of being one of the world's leading sources of credit card fraud, meaning that even innocent cardholders from Russia draw skepticism when they try to use plastic online or around the world.

Leader of the pack
A Russian masterminded the biggest credit card fraud in UK history and has begun serving up to five years in prison. His gang, "which enjoyed a life of luxury" that included first-class travel and vacations throughout the world, stole more than US$28 million before being caught.

Partners in crimefighting
The U.S. and Russian governments have partnered in recent years to take on the international growth of cybercrime.

Local voices

Official tourism site

Financial news sites
- Prime-Tass
- The Moscow Times

Russian personal financial blogs
- Finance of a Russian Girl
- Russia Blog

Country info

President:Dmitry Medvedev

Location: Northern Asia/Eastern Europe, bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe, Pacific Ocean (map)

Population: 140 million (July 2008)

Area: 6,592,771 sq. mi. or 17,075,200 sq. km. (the world's largest by area)

GDP: $2.097 trillion (2007 estimate)

Currency: Russian ruble (RUB)

Key exports: oil, oil products, natural gas, wood, wood products, metals

Famous Mexicans: Novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn, former president Mikhail Gorbachev, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, tennis star Maria Sharapova


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Updated: 03-23-2019