Sweden has been a member of the European Union since 1995 but is not part of the euro area. Indeed, it was during a referendum held in 2003 that the Swedish people expressed their refusal to adopt the single European currency.
The Swedish krona (SEK) has been the official currency of Sweden since 1873. At the time of the creation of the Scandinavian Monetary Union, the main foundation was that the participating countries (Denmark, Sweden and Norway) retain their own currency while having the same fixed exchange rate against gold. This Union was dissolved in 1914 and each country kept its currency.
The monetary unit today therefore remains the Swedish krona, which enjoys total independence and is not linked to any other currency.
Swedish krona (SEK) exchange rate - 2nd half of 2021
A little tip to simplify the calculation: divide the prices in SEK by 10 to have them in Euro!
Generally speaking, most establishments accept international credit cards. However, card payments are not always beneficial. In addition to your possible bank charges, traders and restaurateurs can add their commission to the initial price.
For small everyday purchases, it is advisable to find an exchange office on site or to withdraw some money from the ATM on arrival. Most often, ATMs give instructions in English and French. In Stockholm, ATMs are usually installed near the banking establishments of the major Swedish banks: Handelsbanken, Nordea, Skandia, Swedbank, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken. Banks are open from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday.
A little advice before leaving, ask your bank in France for its partner bank in Sweden. Thus you will be exempt from withdrawal fees (or commissions) which vary depending on the bank and only exchange fees will be applied.
For ATM withdrawals, it is preferable to withdraw the maximum at once rather than gradually because the withdrawal fees have a variable part (commission in%) but also a fixed part which is withdrawn for each withdrawal.
Another alternative is to change your euros at exchange offices which always display their rate. Two brands are represented in Stockholm: the X-Change offices often offer the best rate, but the Forex company's offices are more numerous. These exchange offices are often open at least 6 days a week, generally from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (2 p.m. on Saturdays). Those located at airports and train stations have much longer hours and also open on Sundays. The foreign exchange commission is approximately SEK 50 per transaction, regardless of the amount.
In Stockholm, some shops, restaurants and accommodation also accept the euro with a variable exchange rate. Be careful.
However, a large number of hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and museums simply refuse payment in cash and require payment by credit card regardless of the amount. In Sweden, the proportion of cash payments in shops fell from 40% in 2010 to 12% in 2018. A monetary and societal change unique in the world by its scale! Two-thirds of Swedes think they can live without cash, according to a Bank of Sweden poll. From buying a metro card to paying for accommodation, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to pay in cash. The ideal is therefore to have some local currency with you and a bank card available to use (check the limit for payments abroad with your bank before leaving).
Contrary to our established prejudices and although Sweden is among the most expensive countries in Europe, the cost of living is similar to that of France especially in terms of accommodation, restaurants, clothing and shopping in general. Ditto for transport, shopping, supermarkets, sports and cultural activities such as museums. The price of alcohol is slightly higher. Overall, it is quite possible to control your budget during a stay in Stockolm.
As a benchmark, the cost of living index is an indicator of how expensive a country is. In the first half of 2021, it was 88 in Stockholm compared to 94 in Paris. *
* (source numbeo.com)
In restaurants, hotels or taxis, the bill always includes service. Leaving a tip of 5-10% is highly appreciated but not mandatory. It depends on your appreciation of the service and the performance.
When paying by credit card in a bar or restaurant, you should enter the amount you are going to pay and confirm it before typing your code. If you wish to leave a tip, you can add an amount to the bill so that it is directly included in the amount to be debited. If, on the other hand, you do not wish to leave a tip and simply pay the amount of the bill, enter this figure without a mark-up and confirm.