The end of cash: how to pay in Stockholm

It is super-easy to spend a week in Stockholm without cash. Check out our article to find out how to pay and exchange money in Sweden

The end of cash: how to pay in Stockholm. Source: payspacemagazine.com

Sweden is part of the European Union, but not a part of the Eurozone. It retains its own currency, called the krona (which is Swedish for crown). However, it is most likely that you won’t even encounter Swedish banknotes or coins when having a vacation in this country. That’s because Sweden is considered to be one of the most cash-free countries in the world, with 99,7% of the population using bank accounts, and the average value of banknotes and coins in circulation has been steadily decreasing over the past years.

Average value of banknotes and coins in circulation, 2009-2018, SEK billion. Source: The Riksbank

PaySpace Magazine has spent some time in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, to ensure whether or not anyone can have a comfortable stay without cash.

Transport in Stockholm

Public transportation

The SL system covers a range of transportation types over the Stockholm county area. Source: payspacemagazine.com

Public transportation in Stockholm is managed by the company called Storstockholms Lokaltrafik, or SL. The SL system covers a range of transportation types over Stockholm county area, including buses, the metro, commuter railways, light railways, trams, and even ferries.

You can top up your SL Access smart card via special terminals. Source: payspacemagazine.com

For all kinds of public transport, you’ll need a single journey ticket or a travelcard. For those who visit the city for one day or more and plan to use public transport regularly, it is much better and cheaper to get a travelcard. We recommend 2 options:

  • Buy a single-use travelcard for 24 (SEK 130) or 72 hours (SEK 260) if you stay for one day or a weekend;
  • For a longer stay, buy a travelcard for 7 days (SEK 335) or more. You’ll need to pay an additional SEK 20 for the SL Access smart card, on which your travelcard will be loaded. However, SL Access cards are reusable and transferable (meaning that a card can be used by several travelers, but only one at a time).

In both cases, you’ll have unlimited access to Stockholm’s public transport during the relevant period of time. It is much cheaper than buying single journey tickets every time you need to go somewhere.

You can buy tickets and travelcards at the SL Center, at any Metro station or at plenty of agents all over the city. Source: payspacemagazine.com

You can buy tickets and travelcards at the SL Center, at any Metro station or at plenty of agents all over the city. There is also a dedicated SL smartphone app for those who want to buy a single journey ticket.

Please note it is most unlikely you will be able to pay with cash for your ticket after boarding. Most drivers and conductors do not handle cash, therefore buy yourself a ticket in advance.

The travelcard is pretty easy to use – just hold it on the card reader for a moment and you will get a green light and an audible signal.

Travelcards are pretty easy to use. Source: payspacemagazine.com

Traveling by car

When traveling by car, you’ll need to pay for parking. There are plenty of terminals accepting bank cards. The rates vary from SEK 5 to SEK 50 per hour depending on a district and time of the day. Free parking is allowed in the suburbs Liljeholmen and Solna.

There are plenty of terminals accepting bank cards. Source: payspacemagazine.com

Rent a bike

Stockholm has a perfect infrastructure for bikes. There are many rental services, including quite innovative ones. For example, an EU-bike user needs to download the app, turn on Bluetooth and scan a QR-code on the back wheel lock to unlock the bike and start riding. After a ride is over, a user must lock the bike by pushing the lever in.

EU-bike rental service. Source: payspacemagazine.com

Rental services require deposits (around SEK 40). Fees are often charged on an hourly basis, starting at SEK 5 per hour.

Purchases

Sorry, cash addicts! Many stores and cafes in Stockholm do not handle cash at all. To avoid misunderstandings, businesses display stickers or posters about being cash-free.

Many stores and cafes in Stockholm do not handle cash at all. Source: payspacemagazine.com

However, you can always pay with a bank card. Even street vendors mostly offer this opportunity.

When paying in a big store or a supermarket, chances are the cashier won’t ask you about the preferred payment method and will expect you to put your card or device next to the POS terminal.

Street vendors mostly accept card payments. Source: payspacemagazine.com

Nevertheless, you can avoid personal contact with a cashier, as some stores offer self-checkout systems. We’ve used the one at IKEA. Though everything was in Swedish and there was no button to switch the language, the interface was intuitively understandable.

Some stores offer self-checkout systems. Source: payspacemagazine.com

Entertainment

There are so many great museums in Stockholm! Some of them are free, while others do charge an admission fee. Usually, both cards and cash can be accepted.

Some Swedish museums are quite expensive to visit. However, there are a few offering free admission on a particular day of the week and time. Check the website of the museum you are interested in and maybe you’ll be able to save some money.

The Swedish Royal Museum of Natural History is free to visit. Source: payspacemagazine.com

We were in Stockholm for seven days, and there was only one case when we regretted not having cash. At some museums, you need a SEK 10 coin to use a locker. The coin will be returned when you’ll reopen it, but there is no way to use a locker without a coin.

Skansen museum, showcasing Swedish historical buildings and craftsmanship. Source: payspacemagazine.com

Other than that, we had no need for cash. Funnily enough, even at the Skansen museum, showcasing Swedish historical buildings and craftsmanship, we paid for buns at the 19th-century old school bakery with a smartphone.

Cafes do accept cards, but at most of them, you’ll need cash if you want to tip. Source: payspacemagazine.com

Money exchange

Before going back home, we decided to exchange at least 5 Euros to Krones and take them home as a souvenir. We went to the SEB bank office at Arlanda Airport before departure. The rate was okay and there was no additional fee for such a small amount of currency.

Our currency exchange receipt. Source: payspacemagazine.com

Tips for cashless travelers

Before going on your cashless trip to Stockholm or elsewhere, you should:

  • Find out about all the benefits your issuing bank offers to its cardholders;
  • Make sure whether or not you need to inform your bank about the forthcoming journey.

Moreover, ensure you’ll have a stable Internet connection to use your online banking and other necessary online services, like maps, translator, etc.

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