The banking system in Romania has been aligned to the EU standards. Most banks are now branches of foreign banking groups, which ensure the stability of the Romanian banking system. The level of services is high, and online banking is the norm.
The currency in Romania is the new Romanian leu (RON). The exchange rate with other accepted currencies is fluctuating, but it generally ranges between 4.3-4.5 RON for one euro, and 4 - 4.3 RON for one US Dollar.
One RON is divided into 100 "bani".
ATMs (bancomate) are easy to find in Bucharest and the rest of the country. Machines usually accept Visa, Mastercard, Amex, CirrusPlus, and Maestro cards. If the issuer of your card is different from the ATM vendor, you will generally be subject to a charge. The exact amount depends on each vendor, and you will be informed beforehand.
ATM robberies are not common, but general precautions are required when withdrawing money from and ATM on the street.
Banks in Romania can issue either a debit card or a credit card, depending on your needs.
The best rates are by withdrawing cash from an ATM. This is also the safest and most convenient way to exchange.
Other options include banks and currency exchange offices (case de schimb valutar). Exchange offices are usually open during business hours. You will have to present a valid identification document when exchanging currency. Special caution should be taken when using a currency exchange office, as some may be unauthorized and may pose a risk to your safety. Always ask a local when choosing a currency exchange office, especially when you are exchanging high amounts of money, and verify the banknotes that you receive. Never exchange money on the street.
Electronic money transfers are usually free within Romania, but may involve a fee for international money transfers. The fee can be low if you are transferring between EU bank accounts, but transfers with non-EU countries may be rather costly. When transferring money abroad, you should also keep in mind the currency exchange rate at which the money will be sent.
Necessary information to make an international bank transfer include:
MoneyGram and Western Union transfers are another available option. Money can be wired and withdrawn in cash based with your ID in a matter of several hours. Depending on your circumstances, this may be more convenient, but it also involves higher fees. Offices can be found in most banks, post offices and some supermarkets and shopping centers.
Opening an account in Romania is fairly easy for Romanians and EU nationals, but is more complicated if you come from a non-EU country. As a foreigner, a proof of residence in Romania is required, as well as a valid employment contract or a letter of recommendation from your employer.
It is recommended to shop around in order to find which bank offers the most convenient package in terms of services, fees and ease of opening an account by a foreigner.
Once you have the full documentation, the setting up of the account is a matter of a few working days.
A basic bank account in Romania is usually a checking account (cont curent), and it comes with a debit card, usually Maestro or Visa Electron. Debit cards are the most common and easy to get when you open an account, and they allow you to withdraw money from your account and make payments in shops and supermarkets. The use of debit cards is via your Personal Identification Number (PIN), but shops will also request your signature.
Credit cards attached to your checking account are less common, but they are recommended when making payments online or abroad, as a simple debit card may not always be accepted. The most common types of credit cards in available in Romania are Visa and Mastercard. Conditions and fees depend on the type of card and the issuing bank, but they are usually higher than for credit cards.
Credit cards may come with an overdraft limit. You may need to present additional documentation proving that you have a stable source of income before being approved an overdraft limit.
Savings accounts (cont de economii) are also available once you have a checking account, and they offer a modest, yet guaranteed interest on your savings, but also less flexibility than a basic account, as funds may not be withdrawn anytime. Savings accounts don't have credit or debit cards attached.
Banks are generally open from 8:00 to 16:00, Monday to Friday, but banks have longer opening hours and may even attend on Saturday mornings.
Online banking is provided by most banks at no cost, and it respects the online security measures of EU banks. Direct debit is available by most banks and it allows you to pay your bills with a minimum hassle.
Cheques are not common in Romania, as they are not accepted as a valid means of payment by retailers. They are, however, used by companies when making business to business payments.