Practical Life in Riga


Bank services in Riga


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Currency

Since 2014 the currency of Latvia is the Euro, the same as the rest of the EU. Latvian euro coins feature three separate designs: Latvian maiden, coat of arms of Latvia and the lesser Coat of arms of Latvia.

ATM and Credit Cards

Cards must adhere to international standards including a microchip. Some stores and restaurants are cash only. Look for a sticker indicating they take credit cards if that is your only form of payment.

Latvian banks offer a wide coverage of ATMs across the country. In some towns and villages where ATMs are not as widely available it is also possible to receive cash in stores or gas stations. A map of ATMs can be found on the website of your bank, e.g., Swedbank or SEB banka.

Taking out cash is free from the ATMs of your bank, whereas cash withdrawals from other banks may be subject to fees. All ATMs accept both debit and credit cards.

Exchange

Currency exchange can be done either at a currency exchange office or at a bank. The rates can be significantly different from location to location therefore it is advisable to compare ahead. Particularly in the Old Town the currency exchange offices may offer higher fees than elsewhere.

An alternative for exchanging currency is simply withdrawing money from an ATM or using a multiple currency ATM.

Electronic Transfers

The banks in Latvia offer a wide range of services electronically - both online and via mobile - often making it unnecessary to visit a bank branch in person once the bank account has been open. As a rule, while electronic services are largely free of charge or cost only a little, performing the same operations in a bank branch costs significantly more.

The costs of electronic transfers differ from one bank to another. Typically, electronic transfers between accounts in the same bank are free of charge and are completed within minutes. Transfers between different banks within Latvia cost below 0.50 EUR. The same rate usually applies also to payments within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). Payments outside the EU and in currencies other than the Euro are more expensive and typically are charged above 15 EUR per transfer.

Open a Bank Account in Latvia

A bank account can be opened by visiting any branch or customer service center of your selected bank. All that is necessary for opening an account is a passport or an ID card and, for non-citizens, a residence permit. It is possible to open a bank account as a non-resident; however, the process is lengthier as each case is evaluated individually.

The costs of an account differ based on the type of account and payment cards that come with it:

  • A debit card, typically a MasterCard without a credit option, means low monthly costs (approx. 1 EUR per month) without losing the conveniences of shopping online and using the card for shopping abroad.
  • A credit card - VISA or MasterCard - costs approx. 2 EUR per month and is available for clients who receive their salary to their account in the respective bank; the costs of utilized credit are 1.75% per month.
  • A golden credit card costs approx. 4 EUR per month and comes with additional benefits such as interest free credit period, travel insurance, and free international cash withdrawals.

Banks in Riga

The biggest banks working with private customers in Latvia are:


Update 26/08/2015


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