How to Work with MIR cards. Is it Possible to Get a Salary on them

The international payment system Mir has gained popularity in the post-Soviet space over the past 10 years. Questions arise about the possibilities of international settlements and salaries being received on the cards of this system, about the use of the MIR card in Belarus and abroad. Spex Advisers specialists explain the features of MIR cards and payments with their help, whether it is possible to receive a salary on them, and how it works in modern conditions.

What is “MIR”?

It is the national payment system in Russia, similar to BELKART in Belarus. The system’s official website notes that after the sanctions against Russia in 2014, the government decided to create and develop an internal payment system that does not depend on external factors. In 2022, such a system was helpful as Visa and Mastercard suspended their activities in Russia. Since the beginning of 2022, banks and shops in Belarus have been required to accept Russian MIR payment cards.

The Belarusian Belkart payment system was integrated with the Russian MIR payment system in 2020. Although the MIR payment card cannot be issued in Belarus, a Belkart card can be issued and accepted for payments in the same place as the MIR payment system card.

Since 2022, plastic cards issued in Belarus as part of integrating the Belkart and MIR payment systems have been branded with the MIR logo on the reverse side. Such bank cards were issued by the Belarusian payment system Belkart, and they are used on an equal basis with the cards of the Russian payment system MIR. Almost all Belarusian banks offer payment cards that support the MIR payment system. These are usually Belkart Premium cards. 

Making a card using the MIR payment system in Belarus is impossible.

How does Belkart-MIR differ from other cards, such as Visa?

The main difference between Belkart-MIR and cards of more well-known international payment systems is the territory of bank card operations. As of February 2024, they operate in Russia, Belarus and 10 other countries.

Visa payment cards have a slightly wider geography: they are accepted in more than 200 countries. However, this does not apply to Visa cards issued in Russia—since March 2022, they are accepted only within the country.

Advantages

  1. With the Belarusian Belkart-MIR card, you can be calm about payments and cash withdrawals at ATMs in Russia, where cards issued in other countries of the famous international payment systems VISA and Mastercard do not currently work. Belarusian cards are protected from sanctions by American and European banks. Perhaps this is the main advantage.
  2. MIR and Belkart are independent payment systems. Imagine that in Belarus, as in Russia, the cards of other international payment systems will stop working. In that case, Belkart-MIR cards will retain their capabilities since independent payment systems will remain operational.
  3. The Belkart Premium card, which Belarusian banks issue as part of integration with the MIR payment system, is easy to obtain in Belarus. This can be done online through the bank’s application, and then the bank can deliver it for free or contact the bank’s office with a passport. In several banks, you can issue a card for free.
  4. Contactless payment for goods and services is possible using a phone or smartwatch.
  5. The possibility of transferring money from Russia. For example, from the MIR card issued in Russia to the Belkart-MIR card issued in Belarus.
  6. The opportunity to replenish the Belkart-MIR card for free from the card of another Belarusian bank.
  7. The ability to make purchases in several Russian online stores.

Disadvantages

  1. Of course, this is a refusal to accept Belkart-MIR cards in countries where vacation and remote workplaces are popular with Belarusians and Russians. Due to the danger of sanctions from the US Treasury Department, banks in Turkey, Uzbekistan and South Korea refused to cooperate with the MIR payment system.
  2. Several banks in countries that cooperate with the MIR payment system accept cards of this payment system with restrictions. This means that not all banks in 10 countries serve these payment cards.
  3. Some banks are suspending cooperation with the MIR payment system. Kazakhstan’s Freedom Finance Bank and several banks in the Kyrgyz Republic suspended the acceptance of MIR cards.
  4. Not all foreign websites accept online payments using Belkart-MIR payment cards. 
  5. Belarusian banks issue the Belkart-MIR card in Belarusian rubles and sometimes in Russian rubles. If you need to convert money into other currencies, you will have to lose money on exchange rates. 

In which countries is it possible to pay with a Belkart-MIR card?

As of January 2024, Belkart-MIR cards issued in Belarus were accepted in Belarus, Russia, and 10 countries with partner payment systems: Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Armenia, Republic of Kazakhstan, Republic of Cuba, Republic of Tajikistan, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Republic of Abkhazia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Republic of South Ossetia.

It should be noted that in some countries, not all banks accept payment cards using the Belkart-MIR system. To determine whether a bank or a point of sale accepts cards using the Belkart-MIR payment system when making offline payments, look for the logos of these payment systems at payment acceptance points. Also, look for the appropriate logos on the sites where you plan to make online payments.

Which banks can issue a Belkart-MIR card

Currently, Belarusian banks issue co-branded cards of the Belkart and MIR payment systems in the form of Belkart-Premium cards. Co-branded payment cards are issued in cooperation with several payment systems. Belarusbank found out only about the mono-brand card “Belkart-premium”, which is accepted in Russia. Belarusbank does not distribute Belkart-MIR co-branded cards. There is no information on the release of Belkart-MIR co-branded cards on the Belkart payment system’s website. The situation is similar in Belagroprombank. It was found that currently, Belkart cards are not branded with the “MIR” logo in all banks. In several banks, it is possible to issue payment cards using the Belkart Premium system, which is accepted for settlements in the network of the MIR payment system and its partners.

It is difficult to find information on integrating their payment cards with the MIR payment system on the websites of Belarusian banks since banks have not concluded contracts with it on advertising and disseminating information. We recommend contacting the information centres of Belarusian banks and asking questions about payment cards for individuals who are accepted for payments in Russia.

Belkart Premium for individuals

You can issue payment cards of the Belkart Premium system in the following Belarusian banks:

  • Belinvestbank – for a period of 5 years with free delivery. Residents and non-residents of Belarus can apply for a card for 20 and 40 rubles, respectively. It is possible to issue a Belkart Premium virtual card for free in the “Pay” application.
  • Bank Dabrabyt – for a period of 5 years for 20 rubles. There is no information on the issue of such a card for non-residents on the bank’s website.
  • Paritetbank offers the issue of Belkart Premium for 8 rubles, but there is no information that it is accepted in the MIR system and its partners.  
  • Sberbank offers to issue Belkart cards in Belarusian and Russian rubles for 20 rubles. The card is accepted for payment by Russian online stores, partners of the MIR payment system.
  • Belveb offers a free issue of Belkart Premium for a period of 5 years. The card is accepted in the same place as the MIR cards and the partners of this payment system.
  • In Priorbank, you can apply for a Belkart Premium card for 4 years for free through the app.
  • In Alfabank, you can order a Premium digital Belkart or a physical one for 5 years for free. The geography of use in Belarus, Russia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
  • VTB Bank offers a free MIR instant issue card in Belarusian rubles. It is the “MORE” card. The card can be issued online or at a bank branch. It is accepted in ERIP, stores, and on the Internet, where MIR cards are accepted, and it can also be used in the Mir Pay payment service.
  • MTBank offers a 5-year Belkart Premium issue, which allows you to make payments in Belarus, Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. 
  • Technobank has offered Belkart Premium virtual cards in Belarusian rubles on its website for 1 year. 
  • BNB Bank offers to issue a Belkart card for 19.90 rubles for 3 years. The card can be virtual (free) or physical. It is accepted in Belarus and the CIS countries. 
  • BSB Bank offers to issue a Belkart Premium card for 3 years in Belarusian rubles. You can pay in Belarus using the MIR payment system service network.
  • RRB Bank issues a Premium Belkart for 20 rubles, which can be used in Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. 
  • The Solution Bank offers the issue of a virtual and physical Belkart Premium card for 3 years in Belarusian rubles. 
  • Zepter Bank issues Belkart cards for residents of Belarus over 18. These cards can be used to pay for goods and services in the Russian Federation and other countries that support the service of the MIR payment system cards.

Transfers abroad

Belarusian bank cards issued in Belarus and integrated with the Russian MIR payment system can be used to make transfers abroad to those countries that are partners of the MIR system. At the same time, foreign banks most often charge a percentage of the amount for transfers from Belarus—about 1.45% to 3%. 

Online transfers occur instantly based on the number of MIR cards issued in Russia.

To pay in Russian online stores and online services, you need to check the possibility of accepting payments using the Belkart Premium card in each specific case: search for the logos of the Belkart and MIR payment systems in the “Payments” section on the websites of Russian companies.

Payment by MIR card abroad

The Russian payment system MIR has been under US sanctions since February 2023. Therefore, using the MIR card abroad can be a problem. Foreign banks in countries that are in partnership with the MIR payment system decide for themselves whether to accept payment cards from this system. However, there are no restrictions on payments from the MIR payment system.

In Belarus, the MIR card issued in Russia can be paid in shops and cafes and used to withdraw money in Belarusian rubles from ATMs and banks. Some banks charge interest for such transactions, reaching 15% of the transaction amount in BNB Bank and Priorbank. You can withdraw no more than 500 Belarusian rubles per week using foreign card at an ATM of one bank.

Is it possible to receive salary on the MIR card from abroad?

Usually, Russian companies can transfer salaries to remote employees in Belarus using a card integrated with the MIR payment system. In this case, the Russian rubles in which the salary is accrued are converted into Belarusian rubles at the exchange rate of the Belarusian bank that accepts the payment. Plus, the Russian bank takes a small percentage of the international transfer amount. Another issue is that most Russian companies participate in Russian banks’ salary projects. These projects usually do not assume that employees will have foreign bank cards. Therefore, Russian companies that hire remote workers in Belarus specify in advance in their servicing banks the possibility of transferring salaries to a MIR card issued by a Belarusian bank. 

Residents of Russia abroad who have MIR bank cards issued in Russia can quickly receive a salary on them. For example, Tinkoff MIR and Yumani MIR cards, issued in Russia, accept payments both offline and online in Belarusian stores. However, such a foreign card cannot be linked to Apple Pay and similar contactless payment systems in Belarus.

How to pay taxes on a salary with a MIR card

Option 1. The salary on the MIR card comes from a Russian company

Russia and Belarus have signed an agreement to avoid double taxation. This means payroll taxes withheld in Russia do not need to be re-withheld in Belarus. The personal income tax rates in Russia (an analogue of the personal income tax in Belarus) and the income tax rate in Belarus are the same – 13%. It would be correct for a resident employee of Belarus to ask a Russian employer for a certificate of income, where the payment of taxes on wages will be visible. When submitting an annual tax return on foreign income, you need to show this certificate to the tax office.

Option 2. The salary is transferred to the MIR card by an employee of a Russian company 

A different situation may arise when a Russian company cannot transfer the salary of a resident employee of Belarus on its behalf to a MIR card issued in Belarus. Usually, this situation is resolved by the fact that an employee of a Russian company transfers his salary from a personal MIR bank card to a Belarusian employee. Bank transfers do not show that this is a salary. Therefore, it is likely that a resident of Belarus with systematic income will have to file a tax return and pay an income tax of 13% on income received from abroad. You do not need to pay tax when:

  • An employee of a Russian company is a citizen of Belarus, was not physically in Belarus for more than 183 days in 2023 and was not a tax resident of Belarus.
  • In some cases, cash receipts from Russia came in 2023 from close relatives.

To calculate the amount of tax, the amount in Russian rubles credited to the Belarusian MIR card is transferred to Belarusian rubles at the National Bank of Belarus exchange rate, which is set on the day the money is received.

This year, the declaration of income earned abroad and from abroad in 2023 must be submitted by March 31, 2024.

It should be noted that with regular receipts to an individual from abroad from a non-resident individual, the tax service may have questions about the conduct of unregistered business activities by a resident of Belarus. 

How to withdraw cash from the MIR card in Belarus

Cash from the MIR card can be withdrawn at ATMs with the MIR payment system logo. Money can be withdrawn only in Belarusian rubles.

If the card is issued by a Belarusian bank, the bank’s ATM usually does not withhold interest for cash withdrawals. ATMs of other banks can hold up to 3% of the cash.

According to the MIR system cards issued by Russian banks, Belarusian ATMs issue only Belarusian rubles. The MIR payment system sets the conversion rate. Some Russian bank cards can withdraw cash in Belarus without commission within the limits. It is better to check the availability and amount of the commission and limits on cash withdrawals in Belarus with the bank that issued the card. In addition, Belarusian banks can set their fees for withdrawing cash from foreign bank cards.

How to replenish the Russian MIR card in Belarus

If necessary, we suggest several ways to replenish the Russian card of the MIR payment system in Belarus.

1. Online

It is possible to replenish the MIR card through Belarusian bank applications or online banking. To do this, select “Transfer abroad” in the menu. Then select “to a foreign bank card”, and enter details, the transfer amount, and the recipient’s first and last name. The percentage for the transfer is approximately 1.5% of the transfer amount in different banks in different ways. The money is credited within a few seconds.

This method can be used when the holder of the Russian MIR card has Belarusian bank cards. In this case, he can independently replenish his balance using the Russian MIR card. Otherwise, you can ask for mutual assistance from Belarusian colleagues or relatives. For example, when replenishing any MIR card of a Russian bank using a Belarusian Belkart card issued by Sberbank, Belarusian rubles are preserved in Russian rubles at the rate of the MIR payment system, and a commission of 1% of the amount is charged.

Transfers from card to card by the recipient’s phone number are possible between Belarusian and Russian Sberbank clients. The bank charges 1% of the amount for sending the transfer, but not less than 30 Russian rubles.

2. Offline

You can replenish the Russian MIR card in cash in Russian rubles at a Belarusian bank that works with payments of the MIR system. Cash replenishment is more expensive than online replenishment. Banks themselves set the commission for such an operation. It can be up to 15% of the deposit amount, and the commission in the fixed amount of some banks reaches 150 rubles Belarusian rubles.

The situation with international payments often changes, and we have reviewed the current situation with the use of MIR payment cards.

How to contact us

For additional information or advice on obtaining MIR payment system cards in Belarus, using such cards in Belarus and abroad, in particular, settlements and money replenishment, do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help and support you.
Phone and e-mail communication options are available for your convenience:

  • +375293664477 (WhatsApp/Telegram/Viber);
  • info@spex.by.
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