Switzerland is home to a wide range of banks:
- Universal banks can be found throughout Switzerland
- Cantonal banks are local banks serving their canton
- Raiffeisen cooperative bank
- Private banks are oriented towards wealth management
The advantage of a universal bank is that it offers the full range of banking services: accounts, cards, home loans, pensions and investments. Almost all banks now allow you to open an account in a branch or online.
Learn more about opening a bank account online
How to open a Swiss bank account?
You are already living in Switzerland
So simple: a valid ID and your work permit are enough!
If you have a partner, both of you will have to provide documentary proof.
Make an appointment now at a bank branch or open an account online.
You are still living abroad
If you are visiting to prepare for your arrival, make the most of it and go to the bank! Make an appointment at the bank of your choice and bring a valid ID and your new employment contract!
If you are still abroad, some banks offer a postal account opening service, depending on the country in which you currently reside. Feel free to enquire directly in the bank of your choice.
Current account, cards and e-banking
Current account, private account and salary account, are different names for the same account:
Have an IBAN number
This should be given to the Human Resources department.
Receiving a salary
Bill payments, cash withdrawals, money transfers, etc.
It is practically mandatory to have a current account in Switzerland, because it will be attached to a debit card, perhaps a credit card and access to the bank’s secure online banking area or mobile app.
A current account incurs maintenance fees, which can be avoided or reduced with the ‘Pack’ packages offered by most banks.
Maestro card: the Swiss debit card
Unlike some European countries, in Switzerland it is customary to use a direct debit card, called a Maestro card, for day-to-day spending.
A Maestro card is used to withdraw money, pay in stores and allows you to keep an eye on your spending.
With a Maestro card:
- Cash withdrawals at Bancomats (Swiss name for ATMs) in CHF and often also possible in EUR within Switzerland. Please note that most banks charge for withdrawals made at third-party ATMs.
- Withdrawal of foreign currencies abroad
- Payments in stores in Switzerland and abroad. In Switzerland, contactless payment is possible for amounts of less than CHF 40 if your card has this feature.
- Autonomous management of authorised areas of use via geoblocking.
You cannot pay with a Maestro card online, you must have a second card, commonly called a credit card.
An essential addition to the Maestro card, a credit card offers the following services:
ATM withdrawals in Switzerland and abroad (generally free in Switzerland, fees abroad)
Payments in stores
Payments in stores (free in Switzerland, fees abroad)
Online payments (free of charge in CHF, fees in foreign currencies)
- A credit card can be used as a deferred debit card with expenses debited in CHF at the end of the month. You will not be charged any fees.
- The card can be used to make online payments in any currency.
- It is compatible with certain digital payment methods (Twint, etc).
Combining the two types of cards (debit cards for day-to-day spending and credit cards for major purchases or online shopping) is a great, cost-effective solution.
Online banking account and mobile banking apps
Online access to all your accounts. While accessing accounts from a computer is still common practice, increasing numbers of users are also downloading banking apps to track their accounts and card use.
The essential smartphone banking app
- Check your account balance whenever you want
- Account-to-account transfer to stretch your budget
- Transfer to an external account
- Validation of the payment of your invoices (e-bills)
- Adjusting limits or blocking your cards
- Secure contact with the bank
- An aggregator for your Swiss bank accounts with your French accounts
- There may be other features available depending on the bank
Unique to Switzerland: many banks outsource their credit card business to a partner. Specialised issuers like Viseca, Corner or Swissbankers also offer very dynamic banking apps to ensure secure transactions and card management.