Visiting Sweden: Cash or Credit Card? How to Pay and Exchange Money

When planning your visit to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Lapland or any other destination in Sweden it is important to know some things related to money exchange and how payments work in the country. By doing so you can achieve a better deal and get more Swedish crowns for your euros, dollars or pounds.

In this article I write about where to exchange money and the convenience of doing so.

New coins and bank notes in Sweden

New coins and bank notes in Sweden

Paying in Cash in Sweden

Cash is used in Sweden but a lot less than in other countries in Europe like Spain or Germany. Some places are starting to call themselves cashfree and do not accept cash payments at all. This is for instance the case with public transportation in Stockholm and Gothenburg. In Sweden buses are cashfree and you cannot buy a metro ticket with cash either. Souvenirs shops and other stores can reject cash payments and even some churches and sellers at street markets prefer payments by credit card or by sending money to a mobile phone number. There is a viral app for that called Swish that a lot of Swedes use. They even created a verb for paying with it: att swisha.

Paying by Card in Sweden

My personal guess is that in Sweden you will be able to pay by credit card roughly at 99% of all stores, restaurants, etc. and by that I mean paying whatever amount you want to without needing to reach a minimum payment. That is also a big difference with Spain where sometimes you need to spend 6 € so they let you pay by card.

In Sweden if you go to a bar and have a beer 35 SEK (4 € / $4.5 / £3) if you are lucky or know the places or usually over 65 SEK (7 € / $8/ £5.6) you can pay it by card. If you fancy a small cheeseburger that costs 10 SEK or a Mars bar, you can also pay it by card.

Paying by card is my recommendation during your holidays in Stockholm and urban Sweden mainly (some rural places may be more willing to accept cash) but you have to take into account a couple of things:

  1. the comissions that your bank at home is going to charge you for paying by card abroad. Normally it should be around 3% for European banks. I do not know how it works for American banks. That means that if you spend 1000 € in Sweden you will be spending 1030 € in reality. For those Europeans with access to Carrefour Visa Pass – as I do – they charge just 1% of spendings abroad but this card gives you back 1% of everything you spent during the month so it is a great deal even if you are not travelling abroad.
  2. when paying in Sweden by card and you are asked to select if you want to pay in the local currency (SEK or Swedish kronor) or your home currency you should always choose local currency because the exchange rate will be more beneficial to you.

If you are looking for a reliable online bank with a multi-currency card where you can save EUR, SEK, USD, GBP,etc. exchange currencies when you like the rates and with the possibility of paying in the local currency I recommend you to open an account in Revolut in 8 minutes with your mobile. Opening an account with N26 also helps you avoid comissions abroad. I am very pleased with it.

Money Exchange in Sweden or at Home

Sweet and easy answer: if you want to exchange some money do it in Sweden. At home you will get a worse rate. An example of when I first wrote the Spanish version of this article: exchange rate for SEK-EUR was 9.3366 SEK /1 €. That is for a 1000 € you get 9336 SEK. A reader told me that her bank in Spain was offering her an exchage rate of 8.7361 SEK / € that means that for a 1000 € she would be getting 8736 SEK. As 600 SEK amounted to 62 € (at the time of writing) we were talking about her getting a 6.8% more for her money if she changed it in Sweden.

Where to Exchange Money in Sweden

There are a lot of companies and banks where you can exchange money all around Sweden. Most popular: Forex, X-Change, SEB or Svea Exchange.

Where to Exchange Money at Arlanda Airport and Stockholm

At Arlanda Airport you will find Forex, SEB bank and exchange company X-change to exchange Swedish crowns into euros, dollars or pounds and back. They all are located before the security zone so have that in mind if you want to exchange your money back before going home.

At Sky City, the location between terminals 4 and 5 and located in the 1st floor of the airport you will find Forex and SEB bank. Departures take places in that floor. Europeans arrival usually happen on terminal 5 and on ground floor so you should go up the stairs and head towards Sky City to exchange your money in one of these places. Flag number 2 on the following map shows where they are located.

X-Change is the only exchange located on the ground floor and the one you will meet right after picking up your baggage.

Cambiar dinero en Forex en Arlanda, Estocolmo Foto: swedavia.se

Places to exchange money at Stockholm Arlanda Airport
Photo: swedavia.se

In Stockholm you have several Forex Bank for instance inside Cityterminalen, the main station for airport and national buses; at the Central Railway Station; inside NK shopping mall or at Sveavägen street behind Hötorget square (where the blue building – Stockholm’s Music Hall – is located).

Where is More Convenient to Exchange Money

Years of experience tell me Forex is the best place although sometimes the difference is not much. The more money you want to exchange the more you are going to feel it. While writing this article I tried with a 1000 €.

  • Forex gives back 9336.60 SEK
  • X-Change 9335.80
  • SEB 9286.10
  • Svea Exchange 9276.60 SEK

So it’s just a one or two-beer difference provide you know the places where they serve it cheap ;)

I hope these tips can help you decide if you are going to pay in cash or by card and where to exchange your money during your stay in Sweden. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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About Israel Úbeda

Since 2002 traveling to Sweden and sometimes even living in the country. Some years ago I decided to share my love for the country and its tourist destinations here. Welcome!

16 Comments

  1. Hej, is it easy to find prepaid cards at exchange offices? Tacka

  2. I am going to Stockholm from 29th March until 2nd April(yes!! honestly but at least it’s not in Europe!) I am inclined to sort out my travel money sooner rather than later – it seems a good rate just now from £ to Krona. I use an Avios cash card. Would you advise exchanging money now and loading my card, as opposed to waiting until I get there – as you advise above for normal circumstances?

    • Hi Philippa,

      you should check what exchange rate you get in your bank. Right now at Forex.se you would get 11.29 SEK / GBP. So for £1000 it would be 11290 SEK. I think that is a much better price than what you can get in the UK.
      Of course having Brexit in between may alter the exchange rate for better or worse.
      However bear in mind that Stockholm is becoming a cash-free city and the number of places where it is not possible to pay in cash is growing a lot every day. So even if you get a good rate you probably won’t be able to pay in cash everywhere.

  3. Hi, is it possible to get a domestic card in SEK against USD currency at atlanta airport pl?
    Can such card be used to pay taxis.public transport and at super markets?

    • Hi D Prasad,
      you mean Arlanda airport? Not sure about buying credit cards against USD there. Check the bank account and card from Revolut if available in your country. You can exchange to SEK and spend in SEK in Sweden.
      Stockholm is getting more and more cashfree so having cash can be a hassle.

      Regards,
      Israel

  4. Your information is greatly appreciated. Do taxis accept credit cards? Also, does Stockholm have Uber and if so, is it safe? Thanks.

  5. If the hotel I’m staying at is cash free and it’s written they accept payments by credit card. Does it mean I cannot pay by a debit card? They are not sure what to answer me and that confuse me a little bit. Does they use a name credit card in the meaning a payment card?

    • Hi Vera,
      I don’t think you will have any problem with the debit card. Just check with your bank in your home country. Mosts likely they use credit card meaning also a debit card.

  6. Dear Israel, I must thank you once again for all your valuable information. I visited Stockholm at the end of May and had a wonderful time. Your advice was a huge help on several counts. Take care and keep up the good work! Cannot thank you enough.

  7. Hi Israel,

    I made a mistake and purchased SEK here in the US before traveling to Sweden. I regret this as I was only offered a rate of 8.9 SEK/US but see on your suggestion to check Forex. se I could have gotten 10.1. Oh well. My question is, will it be possible to load my cash onto a prepaid cash card at Arlanda Airport? What would such a card be called? Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Roland, these are called “förbetalda kort” (prepaid cards) in Swedish and are not as common as in the US. You can check at the Forex exchange store at the airport upon arrival or in the city center to see if they provide such service.
      I know they sell some of these at Pressbyrån and 7-eleven kiosks but they have some restrictions on the amount they can be filled with and some other limitations.
      While the exchange rate you got is not so good as it could have been the main problem is that many places in Stockholm are cashless so you still need to use a card. Let me know if you manage to do it with a prepaid card.

      Greetings,
      Israel

  8. Hi,
    Is Forex exchange counter at Arlanda airport impose any commission or fee when we convert euro to Skr?

    By the way, can we buy Stockholm 24 hours transport ticket using credit card or cash?

    • Hi Carmen,

      I don’t think they take a fee but the exchange rate is not going to reflect the real price so there is their comission. For instance as of writing this the official EURSEK rate is 10,68 SEK/EUR. Forex has 10,38. Around a 3% less.
      Remember that you won’t be able to pay many things with cash in Stockholm. So you’ll also need to pay with card.
      Transport ticket can be bought by card.

      Greetings,

      Israel

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