Money and Banking

The currency of Finland is the euro (€).

The euro is the common currency for many of the member states of the European Union.

Euros and other currencies can be imported into and exported from Finland without restrictions. The euro is fully convertible. Money can be exchanged at practically every bank in Finland; each has a special section labeled Currency Exchange.

Opening a Bank Account

It is necessary for most grantees to open a bank account in Finland, since the monthly allowance payments are deposited to a Finnish bank account. Please note, that the Fulbright Center pays the monthly allowance to all grantees except Fulbright Specialists Program grantees (paid by CIES), Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching grantees (paid by IIE) and Fulbright-EDUFI Fellows (paid by EDUFI).

There are numerous banks in Finland where you can open a bank account and you are free to choose any one of them you prefer. Please see further information at the opening a bank account section of the Guide.

Be prepared to be without a bank account for at least a month. You will be dependent on your own finances during this time.

- U.S. Fulbright Student Grantee 2015-2016

Paying Bills and Transferring Currency

All banks have nationwide branch banking. No matter which local branch your account is in, you can deposit or withdraw from any other branch. Bills are paid by bank transfers, available between all Finnish banks. The most common way of paying bills is eBanking, however. Almost all branches can arrange for the deposit of funds or payment of bills in the United States by the electronic transfer of dollars to an American account. If you are continuing to pay bills in the U.S. such as credit card accounts, ensure there are sufficient funds in your U.S bank account to pay it off. Transferring currency from Finland can be done online, but there is often a charge for this service.

If you are going to use a credit card while in Finland that is drawing on a US bank, leave money in your US bank to pay it off; transferring currency from Finland to the US can be done online, but takes time and costs money.

Special dollar accounts can be opened at Finnish banks if you do not want to convert all your money at once, but nevertheless want it on deposit at the bank. There is an exchange fee for every dollar-account deposit or transfer.

Foreigners may import unlimited amounts of any currency, and repatriate any amount of currency that they can prove was brought into the country.

NOTE: If the bill to be paid includes a reference number (viitenumero), be sure to insert the reference number into the reference number field, as otherwise the bank might not recognize the payment and will mark it unpaid.

On the more practical side, money was a big problem for me at first (yes, this is covered in the orientation handbook, but I guess I didn’t realize the full extent - $1000 was not enough). The grant money doesn’t come right away and you have to get settled in first. I did not realize that in getting settled in I would have to make so many deposits, guarantees, installation fees, living purchases, etc. The first few weeks were very tight on money (It would have been nice to have a credit card at this point - that is something that should be recommended for people to obtain before they leave the states. All major credit cards are accepted here.), but it all worked out in the end.

Bank Cards

In general, American credit cards work well in Finland. However, for most grantees the grant is paid into a Finnish account, thus it is necessary to open one. Once you have opened an account in a Finnish bank, you will be issued a debit card, the VISA Electron. The card carries no credit line; while making a transaction it always checks the balance to make sure that the account has sufficient funds. The VISA Electron is accepted by most businesses in Finland and it can be used for paying some purchases online as well, such as train tickets. Cash can be withdrawn from Otto ATMs and bills can be paid for example at Solo bank transfer machines.

However, the VISA Electron is not a credit card and as such is often not valid with airlines and most other internet merchants (such as travel web sites). Therefore it is probable that major travel expenses must be charged to a U.S. credit card.

Most Finns purchase goods with cash, bank cards, or credit cards, and pay bills by bank transfer, either on the internet or at automatic bank transfer machines that can be found in most branch offices, department stores and shopping centers. Scroll down for a vocabulary of frequently used ATM banking terms.

Traveler's and U.S. Personal Checks

Do not take checks to Finland, cashing them is cumbersome and expensive. Finland is a check-free society.

Traveler’s checks can be bought or converted at most banks but are not accepted in most stores. Personal U.S. bank checks are not accepted in stores, and may involve a lengthy bank clearing procedure unless you are a regular customer. To cash foreign checks, there is a relatively high service charge per check (up to 20 euros per check).

Personal checks are NOT used at all; traveler’s checks are also not very useful and are expensive to cash in the bank. Finland relies mostly on credit cards. I would suggest MasterCard or Visa, as well as getting a Visa Electron once you have arrived. Ask the customer service desk for a lesson in how to use the SOLO machines and Otto (ATMs), in case the instructions are in Finnish.

There are several banks operating in Finland. When selecting a bank, it is a good idea to compare services and perhaps ask your academic hosts for recommendations. Also check with the bank of your choice that their internet banking is available in English.

Finnish Banks with Webpages in English

Banking Vocabulary

You will be able to request English as your language of service for internet banking. Unfortunately, some ATMs use only Finnish or Swedish. Here is some vocabulary used in ATM machines. Don’t worry, banking is really not as difficult as this list may make you think!

IN FINNISH IN ENGLISH
Aseta lasku viivakoodin lukijaan Set the bill into the bar code reader
Edellinen sivu Previous page
Ei viitettä No reference
En halua kuittia I don’t want a receipt
Erääntyvät maksut luettelo List of payments falling due
Haluan kuitin I want a receipt
Heti maksuun Payment now
Hyväksy Approve (the bill for payment)
Jatka Continue
Keskeytys Interrupt the function
Korjaa Correction
Kuittikopio paperille Print receipt on paper
Laskun maksu Bill payment
Lopetus Quit
Maksetaan luotolta Payment from credit
Maksetaan pankkitililtä Payment from the bank account
Maksuluettelo List of payments
Maksupäivä Date of payment
Maksut Bill payments
Muu palvelu Other service
Näytölle To the screen
Otto Withdrawal
Otto muu summa Withdrawal other amount
Paina ok Press ok
Paluu Return
Pankkitili Bank account
Paperille On paper
Peruutan maksun Cancel the payment
Ppkkvv ddmmyy (date)
Rahamäärä euroina Amount in euros
Saajan tilinumero Payee’s account number
Saajan pankki Payee’s bank
Saldo Balance
Saldo ruudulle Show balance on screen
Seuraava lasku Next bill
Seuraava rivi Next line
Seuraava sivu Next page
Syötä euromäärä Enter the amount in euros
Tarkat tiedot Accurate information
Tilikysely Account inquiry
Tilille Account number of the receiver/payee
Tilin saldo Balance of the account
Nostettavissa Amount available for withdrawals
Tilin valinta Choose the account
Tilitapahtumat Account transactions
Valitse maksutapa Choose the method of payment
Valitse tili Choose the account
Viesti Message to the payee
Viite Reference number