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.

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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