Published: Thu 19 Jul 2018.

Cashless Sweden!

Acquaint yourself with the Swedish currency and how to handle your daily transactions in Sweden

This blog article introduces you to the Swedish currency and some tips about how to efficiently pay in Swedish Krona (SEK) to make your life in Sweden easier. At the time of writing of this article, Swedish Krona has the following exchange rates, 1 $ ~ 8-9 SEK and 1 € ~ 10-11 SEK.

*Fun fact! The plural form of Krona is Kronor.

Before coming to Sweden, the payment of your tuition fees or your student housing rent can most often be paid using wire transfer or credit cards. You can read an article about how to pay your rent (cash-free) through this link.

When you arrive in Sweden after a long flight from your home for the first time, it can feel scary coming without any cash. But worry not, there are banks such as Forex bank which have branches across Gothenburg city and one in the airport, from where you can get your money converted to Swedish Krona. Some of the students who came to Sweden in the previous years suggested not carrying Kronor because they had discontinued old notes during 2016-2017 period and I was uncertain if I would get all the new ones back home. I carried the next best thing, Euros. I got them changed to SEK from Forex Bank, like a lot of my friends, at a charge of 50 SEK, unless you have an account with them (in which case, it is for free).

Now, I had the cash, and I got my next surprise. The rumour about Sweden being cashless is as factual as it gets! When I paid by cash at stores, I saw nobody paying by cash, EVER! Next interesting thing happened when, during our first day at Chalmers, I found out that all Chalmers campuses and facilities are completely cashless, with no shop accepting any cash and the only accepted means of payment were either a debit/credit card, the student union card or other electronic payment options. The student union card reaches each student over post at the beginning of each semester, works as your access card to laboratories, computer rooms and doubles as a prepaid payment card on all stores across Chalmers campuses. The fun part about these cards is that they provide you with a sweet discount at most of the shops and restaurants in the Chalmers campus and even on certain others outside!

After so much happening around me, I faced some problems with websites not accepting payments using non-Swedish bank cards (e.g. the public transportation service - Västtrafik). So, I decided to open a Swedish bank account with SEB. The good thing with this bank is that they let you open your bank account before getting your personal number, based on your credentials from Chalmers like your admission letter. My fellow student ambassador, Abir, wrote a blog article on the personal identification numbers and bank accounts here and Sangeeth & Rebecca wrote one on public transportation here.

Now that I was all set with my SEB account and my student card, I tried figuring out the payment methods acceptable in Sweden. They have an app called “Swish​” which works like a direct payment method. It can be linked to your Swedish mobile number, and the bank will help you set it up easily. While paying, all you need is the mobile number which has Swish activated and linked to the bank account and boom! The money gets transferred in seconds directly to the person’s bank account. Now, payments as small as 0,5 SEK can also be done using this app (I have not tried anything smaller though!), which is quite convenient. Swish and cards are so widely used in Sweden, and I got so comfortable with using these, that the ~500 Euros I got back from India were never used completely. After being here for almost a year and not being able to finish the cash I had, I can say that all you need is some money in your account and Sweden is sorted for you. You can rely on Forex Bank for getting some cash in case you feel that it may be important to have some cash. But, in general, it is simply amazing never to have to worry about cash in your pocket anymore!

Text by Bharat Mehta

Published: Thu 19 Jul 2018.