Comparison - the US dollar and Swedish krona

By Magnus Hansén

Money is always money, correct? Or - could there be differences? Certainly there are differences among the roughly 180 different currencies currently circulating the world. If there were not, what would be the point in the countries of the world having their own currency?

The US dollar and Swedish krona are different from one another in a few distinct ways when it comes to material, the currencies' usage and the practical matters. Below, some of those differences are highlighted.

One similarity between the Swedish krona and US dollar is that both currencies use famous people to adorn their bills and coins. Even though this is indeed a similarity, there is a difference found in the kind of people who are depicted on said bills and coins. All famous people on the US dollars are diseased influential politicians from the United States of America. On the Swedish coins and bills, however, there are no politicians but other characters that have been of substantial meaning for Swedish culture in one way or another. On the Swedish kronor bills, you will find that there are authors, musicians etc. On one, there is even a young boy flying across the nation on a bird! This scene is from one of the beloved and late author Selma Lagerlöf's most successful works.

Is Sweden expensive to visit?

The Swedish flag

Someone who is used to US Dollars would most likely think of Sweden as a very expensive country. This is partially explanied by the fact that if you, for example, were to buy a TV-set in the United States of America, it would cost you 500 dollars. Then, when you come to Sweden the same TV would cost you approximately 3300 kronor. Adding the extra zero into the mix makes it look like it is astronomically expensive in Sweden, but this is all because of the value of the currency. 1 US dollar would usually convert to roughly 6,5-7 Swedish kronor, depending on how the exchange rates fluctuate.

Historically, you will get more value out of exchanging Swedish kronor to US dollars and using those in the United States of America than doing the opposite, because of the exchange rates and the monetary situation of each country. Often times, buying electronics and/or similar items in US dollars, on American soil, is much cheaper than doing so in Sweden.

Signs of the currencies

The US dollar has its own sign, $, which is usually written before the amount, like for example $1. The Swedish krona does not have a sign for the currency, which means you have to write 1 krona, 2 kronor and so forth. The krona or kronor always comes after the amount of money; putting it first would not be following proper Swedish grammar. Although there is no official sign for the Swedish krona, it is not uncommon to use the ISO standardized abbreviation SEK or the informally accepted abbreviation kr, which is short for krona or kronor. Sometimes, you will see stores writing out their prices as 49,9:-or 99,- with :- and ;- informally meaning kronor. The ISO code for US dollar is USD and is commonly seen in environments like the stock market.

The US dollar is used and accepted as a currency in a number of countries all over the world. The Swedish krona is only used in Sweden and, in some instances, accepted in neighboring countries where cities or towns lay very close to the country borders.

While the US dollar to this day uses many small value coins, the Swedish krona has gradually eliminated some of the least valuable coins, simply because they have very little value in today's economy and pose more of a hassle than they are beneficial to its users. Also, using cash payments is a lot more common practice in The US than it is in Sweden today. Paying everything from car fuel to grocery items with cash is still perfectly common in The US whereas Sweden is becoming increasingly digital in terms of its use of currency. There are some stores - even banks - in Sweden that have stopped handling physical money all together. Why this development is underway can be debated, but safety reasons are to be considered.

"In God We Trust"

On the back of US dollar bills and coins, there is a quote that reads "In God we trust". This quote has appeared on coins since 1864. The quote also became the official motto of The United States of America 1956. The quote has been subject to great controversy through the years due to its obvious religious nature. Some say that using this quote is a violation to the part of the US constitution that forbids the US government from passing laws respecting the establishment of religion. Despite having received plenty of critique, the quote is still supported by 90% of American citizens, according to a survey conducted in 2003. In Sweden, law separates the church and the government and thus, you would never see anything of a religious nature on a Swedish krona coin or bill, or anything government-related for that matter. Not only that, but Swedes are generally more opposed to public religious messages as it is a nation where a considerably low percentage of the population considers themselves religious.

Advanced colors - Do not try to copy!

Green and black are the main colors of all US dollar bills, with some complementary colors on certain bills such as the 20 dollar bill and 100 dollar bill. These extra colors were introduced to prevent the production of counterfeit money. Future security measurements in terms of an extended color range are to be expected, but are not yet effective. Swedish kronor bills, on the other hand, come in many different colors and shades such as purple, yellow, blue, red and a grayish brown. The bill's color depends on its value and makes recognizing the different Swedish kronor bills easy; slightly easier than the more standardized look of the dollar. Swedish bills also vary in size to a bigger extent than US dollar bills. All Swedish kronor bills are shorter than US dollar bills, which leads to some Swedish wallets not being able to accommodate the longer American bank notes.

Most currencies use a number of security features such as watermarks and security threads on their bills. On Swedish kronor, some of these features like the holograms and foil strips, are highly visible. Most US bills have more subtle security features; a security thread, for example, will turn blue when looked at in ultraviolet light on $5 bills and higher. The 5 dollar bills have a large purple number 5 on them as well.

Cash from ATM

When withdrawing money from an ATM, it is usually not possible to withdraw bills smaller than 10 US dollar or 100 Swedish kronor. In the US, most ATM:s favor sums in sets of 20:s, e.g. 20 dollars, 40 dollars, 60 dollars and so forth. Some ATM:s do not hold 10 dollar bills. Most Swedish ATM:s hold 100 kronor, 500 kronor and 1000 kronor bills.