Swedish Currency: Useful Info About Swedish Krona (SEK)


Tobias Sjöström

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Sweden has its unique form of currency, the Swedish Krona (SEK). This currency plays a pivotal role in the Swedish economy and serves as the medium of exchange for goods, services, and even digital transactions.

Whether you’re in Sweden for a short visit or planning an extended stay, understanding the Swedish Krona will serve you well in daily life, from shopping at local stores to dining at restaurants and using public transportation. This article provides a in-depth guide to Swedish currency, breaking down its different elements for easy understanding and practical use.


  • Swedish currency is primarily based on the Swedish krona (SEK), denominated in notes and coins.
  • Currency exchange is readily available, but using a Swedish bank can offer better rates.
  • Debit and credit cards are widely accepted, with Visa and MasterCard being the most common.

The Basics of Swedish Currency

The fundamental unit of currency in Sweden is the Swedish Krona, abbreviated as SEK. You may also come across the symbol “kr” when dealing with prices or transactions. One Swedish Krona is subdivided into 100 öre. However, it’s essential to note that the öre coins have largely fallen out of use and are generally not encountered in everyday transactions anymore.

The Unit of Currency: Swedish Krona

The word “Krona” translates to “crown” in English, reflecting its royal origins. It’s the currency exclusively used in Sweden, making it important for anyone living or traveling in the country to be familiar with it. The Swedish Krona is not part of the Eurozone, meaning euros are not commonly accepted for transactions in Sweden. Some tourist-heavy areas might accept euros, but it’s not something to rely on.

Subdivisions: öre

As mentioned earlier, 1 Swedish Krona is subdivided into 100 öre. Though you won’t typically deal with öre coins today, the term still exists and might be used in electronic transactions or when pricing fuel. For example, petrol prices may be listed as “15.99 kr,” implying that the price includes 99 öre.

Currency Symbols and Abbreviations

In Sweden, you’ll often see prices listed with the abbreviation SEK or the symbol kr. While both are correct and commonly understood, “SEK” is the ISO 4217 code for the currency, used in international banking and finance. On the other hand, “kr” is more commonly used in everyday retail or when locals discuss prices.

Understanding the basics of the Swedish Krona, its subdivisions, and the symbols used to represent it will provide you with the foundational knowledge needed to navigate financial aspects of life in Sweden smoothly.

Common Denominations

Familiarizing yourself with the common denominations of banknotes and coins can help streamline your transactions and make your experience in Sweden more comfortable. The Swedish Krona comes in various denominations, both in paper and coin forms, making it versatile for all types of purchases, from small to large.

Banknotes and Their Values

Swedish banknotes are colorful and come in different sizes. The most commonly used banknote denominations are:

20 kronorpurpleAstrid Lindgren
50 kronororangeEvert Taube
100 kronorblueGreta Garbo
200 kronorgreenIngmar Bergman
500 kronorredBirgit Nilsson
1.000 kronorbrownDag Hammarskjöld

Each banknote features a famous Swedish personality, from historical figures to cultural icons, making the banknotes not just functional but also educational in a way.

Coins and Their Values

Coins are important in daily transactions, especially for smaller purchases. The standard coin denominations you’ll encounter are:

1 KronaCopperKing Carl XVI Gustaf PortraitCarl XVI Gustaf Sveriges konungSverige, En Krona, 1
2 KronorCopperKing Carl XVI Gustaf PortraitCarl XVI Gustaf Sveriges konungSverige, 2 kronor
5 KronorGoldKing Carl XVI Gustaf’s monogramCarl XVI Gustaf Sveriges konungSverige, 5 kronor
10 KronorGoldKing Carl XVI Gustaf PortraitCarl XVI Gustaf Sveriges konungFör Sverige – I tiden

The coins are smaller in size compared to the banknotes and are often used in scenarios like shopping at convenience stores, taking public transportation, or buying snacks from vending machines.

Knowing the various denominations at your disposal will help you better manage your finances and make transactions more efficiently. Keep an eye on both the value and the color of each banknote or coin, as this can speed up the process of paying for items or services and make your daily life in Sweden a little bit easier.

Currency Exchange

Exchanging your home currency for Swedish Krona is a straightforward process, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you’re getting the best value. There are multiple places where you can exchange money in Sweden, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Where to Exchange Money in Sweden

You have several options when it comes to currency exchange:

  • Banks: Many Swedish banks offer currency exchange services. However, it’s essential to note that some banks may require you to have an account with them to access this service.
  • Forex: These are specialized currency exchange shops and can often be found in city centers, shopping malls, and airports. Forex usually offers competitive rates and charges lower fees than banks.
  • ATMs: If you have a debit card that works internationally, withdrawing money from an ATM can provide you with a good exchange rate. However, make sure to check for any transaction fees or foreign exchange fees that may apply.
  • Online Exchange Services: Some platforms allow you to exchange money online and either have it delivered or prepared for pick-up. This is a convenient option but always check for delivery charges and ensure that the service is reputable.

Tips on Getting the Best Exchange Rates

  1. Compare Rates: Before exchanging a large amount of money, it’s advisable to compare rates from multiple sources.
  2. Avoid Airport and Hotel Exchanges: While convenient, these places usually offer less favorable rates and higher fees.
  3. Check for Hidden Fees: Always ask if there are any commission fees or hidden charges, as these can significantly affect the amount of money you’ll receive in exchange.
  4. Use a Currency Converter App: Having a reliable currency converter app on your phone can help you quickly assess whether you’re getting a good deal.

By understanding where and how to exchange currency, as well as what to look out for when doing so, you’ll be better positioned to navigate the financial landscape of Sweden. Being informed will ensure you get the most value for your money if you’re arriving from another country or need to exchange currency for any other reason.

Using Debit and Credit Cards in Sweden

In Sweden, the use of debit and credit cards is highly prevalent, often even more so than cash transactions. As such, it’s crucial to understand how and where you can use your cards to ensure a smooth and convenient financial experience during your time in the country.

Commonly Accepted Cards

Sweden’s most commonly accepted debit and credit cards are Visa and MasterCard. American Express and Diners Club are also accepted in some places but are notably less common. If you’re using a card from a foreign bank, it’s advisable to check with your bank regarding foreign transaction fees and whether your card is set up for international use.

Places You Might Run Into Issues

While cards are widely accepted across Sweden, there may be a few places where you could encounter challenges:

Smaller Shops and Rural Areas. Card payments might not be accepted in less urbanized areas or smaller establishments. It’s a good idea to carry some cash for such situations.

Public Transport. While major city transport systems are well-equipped for card payments, some smaller towns and rural bus services may require cash or a local prepaid travel card.

Tipping. In Sweden, tipping is not as common as in some other countries, but if you do want to leave a tip, it’s often easier to do so in cash.

Knowing where and how to use your debit and credit cards in Sweden will allow for a more convenient and stress-free experience. It’s always good to have a backup plan, such as carrying a small amount of cash, especially if you’re venturing outside major cities. Nonetheless, the widespread acceptance of card payments in Sweden makes it easy for you to go about your daily activities without worrying too much about the mode of payment.

Swedish Banking Practices

Understanding the banking practices in Sweden is essential for long-term residents and can even be helpful for short-term visitors who wish to manage their finances effectively. From the types of accounts available to the norms around money transfers, getting to grips with the Swedish banking system can make your life considerably easier.

Account Types Commonly Available in Sweden

If you’re planning an extended stay or moving to Sweden, consider opening a local bank account. The primary types of bank accounts available to you are:

  • Current Account: Ideal for day-to-day transactions, paying bills, and receiving a salary.
  • Savings Account: Offers a higher interest rate than a current account but may have restrictions on withdrawals.
  • Online Accounts: Many Swedish banks offer the option of managing your account entirely online, which can be convenient for those who prefer digital banking.

Money Transfers and How They Work

Transferring money within Sweden or to other countries is generally straightforward. Swedish banks use a system called Bankgirot for domestic transfers, which is quick and efficient. Most banks are equipped to handle SWIFT or IBAN transactions for international transfers. Remember that fees for international transfers can vary and may be influenced by the amount being sent and the countries involved.

  • Bankgiro: This is the domestic money transfer system. If someone needs to transfer money to you, you’ll usually provide them with your Bankgiro number.
  • SWIFT/BIC and IBAN: These codes are required for international transfers. Your bank can provide these details to you upon request.
  • Mobile Payment Apps: These are increasingly popular for both domestic and international transfers. Apps like Swish are commonly used for smaller transactions between friends or for small business payments.

The banking system in Sweden is generally robust, with a strong emphasis on digital transactions and online banking services. Whether you’re managing daily expenses, saving for the future, or transferring money, the Swedish banking practices are designed to be user-friendly and efficient. As with any financial systems, always remember to keep your account details secure and consult your local bank for any specific questions or needs.

ATM Use in Sweden

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), known as “Bankomats” in Sweden, are widely available and offer a convenient way to withdraw cash. While Sweden is moving towards being a cashless society, there are still scenarios where having cash can be handy. Understanding how to use ATMs and what to be cautious about will help you manage your finances effectively while in the country.

How to Find an ATM

ATMs in Sweden are easily accessible and are commonly found in shopping centers, near grocery stores, and in busy public areas like train stations and airports. They are also often available inside banks. Most ATMs have English language options, making them user-friendly for non-Swedish speakers.

Charges and Limits

  • Domestic Fees: If you’re using a Swedish bank card at a Swedish ATM, you’ll typically not be charged a fee for withdrawals.
  • Foreign Cards: If you’re using a foreign debit or credit card, be aware that additional fees might apply. These could include a flat fee for each transaction and/or a percentage of the amount withdrawn.
  • Withdrawal Limits: ATMs usually have a daily withdrawal limit, which can range from 2,000 to 10,000 kronor, depending on the bank and the type of account you have.

Before you use your card in a Swedish ATM, it’s advisable to consult with your home bank about any fees that might apply. This can help you decide whether withdrawing larger amounts less frequently might be more economical than making multiple smaller withdrawals.

ATMs in Sweden are generally safe to use, with security measures like CCTV cameras and well-lit environments to protect users. However, it’s always a good practice to be aware of your surroundings and keep your PIN secure.

Utilizing ATMs in Sweden can be a straightforward and convenient experience, especially if you’re informed about potential charges and aware of your daily withdrawal limits. Whether you need cash for a small-town market that doesn’t accept cards or just prefer having some cash on hand, knowing the ins and outs of ATM use in Sweden will help you navigate these situations with ease.

Common Practices and Tips

Being well-versed in the Swedish currency and banking nuances will certainly ease your financial dealings, but there are also some everyday practices and tips that can make your experience even smoother. From rounding up prices to understanding common payment options, these are some of the practical aspects that you’ll likely encounter when dealing with money in Sweden.

Rounding Up Prices: ‘Öresavrundning’

Because öre coins are mostly out of circulation, Sweden has a practice called ‘öresavrundning’ where the total amount is rounded to the nearest krona when paying in cash. This doesn’t apply to electronic transactions, where the exact amount will be charged.

Receipts and Documentation

Swedes often keep their receipts for several reasons, such as returns, warranties, or for personal accounting. When making a purchase, you’ll almost always be offered a receipt. It’s a good practice to keep these, especially for more significant purchases or if you’re unsure about a product.

Using Mobile Payment Apps

Mobile payment apps like Swish have become increasingly popular for small transactions between friends, at small businesses, and even at some larger retail stores. To use Swish, both parties need to have Swedish bank accounts and the app installed on their phones.

Contactless Payments

Sweden is a pioneer in the use of digital and contactless payments. Many shops, restaurants, and even vending machines allow for contactless payments, making transactions quick and straightforward. Just tap your card, and you’re done!

Cashless Establishments

It’s becoming more common to see shops and eateries operating entirely cash-free in Sweden. These establishments will have signs indicating they do not accept cash, so be prepared to use a card or a mobile payment app in such cases.

Tipping Practices

Tipping is generally not expected in Sweden, and service charges are included in the bill. However, if you want to tip for excellent service, it’s customary to round up to the nearest 10 or 50 kronor, or around 5-10% of the bill.

Familiarizing yourself with these common practices and tips can enhance your comfort and efficiency in handling financial matters in Sweden. Whether it’s understanding how to round up your bill or navigating cashless shops, these insights equip you to manage your money like a local.

Digital and Cashless Payments

Sweden is at the forefront of the cashless revolution, with a growing number of businesses and individuals preferring digital payments over traditional cash transactions. As a foreigner in Sweden, embracing these payment methods can make your life more convenient and help you blend in seamlessly with local financial customs.

Mobile Payment Apps

One of the most striking features of the Swedish financial landscape is the ubiquity of mobile payment apps, notably Swish. Developed collaboratively by major Swedish banks, Swish initially became popular for peer-to-peer payments and has now expanded its use to businesses, online shopping, and even charitable donations.

How to Use Swish: You need a Swedish bank account and a Swedish personal identification number, commonly referred to as a personnummer. After installing the app, you link it to your bank account. Transactions are nearly instantaneous and usually free of charge.

Swish for Businesses: Many small businesses and even some larger retailers accept Swish as a payment method. If you’re running short on cash or prefer not to use a card, Swish offers an easy alternative.

Contactless Cards

Many debit and credit cards in Sweden are equipped with contactless technology, allowing quick payments without needing to enter a PIN for smaller amounts. When making a purchase, tap your card against the card terminal, and the transaction is complete.

  • Security: The contactless payment method is generally secure, but it’s advised to still keep a close eye on your card to prevent unauthorized use. For transactions above a certain amount, usually 200 to 400 kronor, you will be prompted to enter your PIN for additional security.

Online Payment Services

Online shopping is incredibly popular in Sweden, and various payment methods are available to facilitate this. Services like Klarna, PayPal, and various bank transfer options make online shopping easy and secure.

  • Klarna: This Swedish-founded service allows you to pay after you’ve received the goods, offering a kind of “try before you buy” experience. Klarna is widely accepted in Swedish online stores.
  • PayPal: A global payment platform that is also commonly used for online purchases in Sweden. Be aware that some Swedish stores may not offer PayPal as a payment option.

Adapting to digital and cashless payment methods in Sweden is relatively simple, especially with the multitude of options available. From using apps like Swish for everyday purchases to tapping your contactless card for a quick transaction, digital payments are a significant part of the Swedish financial ecosystem that you’ll likely find yourself becoming a part of.

ABOUT Tobias Sjöström

Tobias brings much experience from his time at one of Sweden’s largest banking institutions. He’s not just our lead financial guide; he’s also an avid traveler who understands the challenges expats face.

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