Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Question About Cash

Tina Mitchell asks,

I have a problem. We will be going very soon. waiting for our appt. date. Waited to obtain the brand new money from the bank cz' 3 banks told me "no problem".."we can have it in 3 days"...course that is NOT true. Do the banks there accept $50 dollar bills? The banks here have more "newer" 50's than 100's. Are there any other alternatives? Thank you for any help.
Tina, we had about 3 weeks notice for our trip. We went to our bank, Wells Fargo, and they said they were getting a shipment in from the Federal Reserve and they would be getting enough to cover our request. So basically, we just "reserved" it until right before we left. So we had brand new bills, never circulated, that even had incrementing serial numbers. All of them were 100's.

The grivna is the official currency in Ukraine, but there is a shadow economy that uses dollars. There are many Ukrainians that have dollars somehow. Yes, you can take 50's, I even saw people exchanging 20's. The drawback, though, is the number of bills. There are twice as many 50's, of course, over 100's. That's a big deal when you're carrying them on your person in money pouches. You may find your facilitator will ask you to pay for a few things, such as arranged taxis, in dollars. I would recommend taking 5-10% of your money in 50's, the rest 100's.

As I mentioned, our money was brand new. Others have said used bills are OK as long as there are no rips or markings on them. If you have older bills, you can iron them to make them crisp like new again. Some also suggest withdrawing money daily from an ATM to get fresh bills. Others will make an appt. with the bank every week to sit down with an employee and go through stacks of bills, keeping the best ones.

You mentioned banks in your question. We never set foot in an actual bank over there. There are little exchange kiosks everywhere that there are people. You will have no trouble finding an Obmin Valyut, as they are called, because they almost always have a yellow sign posting the exchange rate.

Picking up our cash at the bank. Five piles of $5,000. You would think $25,000 would be more than this - about 1/2" thick stack of 100's.


David, Donna, Amber & Dasha said...

I agree with Alan that you shouldn't have a problem getting new or slightly used US Dollars. We called our bank 3 wks in advance and told them what we we're doing. The head teller told us to come in the Thursday before we leave and she would have the money waiting for us. We had NO porblems changing money in Kyiv or Odessa. After a couple of weeks the bills start to get a little wrinkled from wearing them all the time anyway and it was no problem.

David ... Father of Dasha - 12-yr-old from Odessa.

Christine said...

We picked out the best used $100bills out of a huge stack. Every bill was accepted.