Best Swiss Bank for Foreigners

What is the best bank in Switzerland for foreigners? Expats have special needs when it comes to banking, and not all organizations are able to deliver on it. Swiss banks are known worldwide, but they are somewhat difficult and expensive to deal with.

Therefore, you want to make sure you have made the right choice. Moreover, if you are a non-resident and looking for a bank in Switzerland, be ready to pay high fees – non-residents pay about 300 CHF per year on average.

The best Swiss banks for foreigners are:

  • Revolut – the best European bank
  • Neon – the best digital Swiss Bank
  • Migros Bank – the best traditional Swiss Bank

Switzerland has over 150 banks, some of them are classical branch banks, and a few of them are innovative digital fintechs. The choice is vast, and it’s very easy to lose an overview of terms and conditions when picking a new bank account abroad.

Hence, in this article, we have selected the best Swiss bank account for foreigners and described their offers & fees so that you can save time and just make a final decision. If you live abroad and want to open a bank account in Switzerland, read this article.

1. Revolut

Revolut has been my bank of choice since 2018. It’s the best bank you can find not only in Switzerland but in the entire Europe. Besides, it’s the fastest-growing digital bank with the widest range of features. For everyone who is traveling abroad, this is the best option. 

Revolut is based in the UK; hence, all its services run in English. Besides Switzerland and the UK, Revolut is available for everyone living in EEA countries, Australia, and since March 2020 in the US as well.

Their bank account and services are totally free. After you sign up for an account, they will send you your debit card anywhere you wish to.

If you once go traveling and pay in a different currency, they won’t charge additional fees for it, and they will also convert your money at best possible rate (for you!).

Honestly, having a debit card and bank account with Revolut has been a massive help for me while living abroad, but also while traveling all over the world. The main perks you get when getting a Revolut: 

  • Free multicurrency, international bank account 
  • Free debit card – you pay only for a delivery
  • Credit card is optional
  • IBAN for Sepa transfers
  • Free money transfers 24/7 
  • Free multicurrency payments
  • Free withdrawals worldwide
  • Easy instant top-up
  • Instant transfers/payments
  • Fantastic app with a great user interface and simple navigation
  • Customer support via chat 24/7

If a standard free account isn’t enough for you, you can check their premium plans. Revolut has two premium tiers. The first is called Premium, and it costs 7.99 CHF per month. The second is called Metal and costs 13.99 CHF. Paying this monthly price will get you a chick metal card.

Things to know:

Cash withdrawals in Switzerland and abroad

Withdrawing money from any ATM is free for up to 200 CHF per month; after that, it costs 2%.

If you are looking for a loan in Switzerland, check out this guide.

https://russianvagabond.com/how-to-get-a-loan-in-switzerland/

2. Wise

A multi-currency account from Wise is accessible to almost anyone, regardless of country of origin or residency. If you regularly perform international transfers – Wise is the best solution in Switzerland. It can be used in 54 currencies.

You can open a Wise account free of charge and hold CHF, EUR, and a total of over 54 currencies in one place. Account owners also get a fair average exchange rate without surcharge and hidden fees when using foreign currencies.

A wise card is suitable for both online and offline payments and can be used to withdraw money from any ATM that accepts Visa/Mastercard. Withdraws of up to 200 CHF per month are free of charge; after that, a fee of 1,75% applies.

You can open a Wise multicurrency account online and from abroad. That way, you can hold multiple currencies, including Swiss francs. Furthermore, it’s also possible to open a Wise business account, depending on your needs.

Bear in mind that Wise doesn’t come with a Swiss bank account, but it has an approval rate of almost 100%.

Revolut compared to Wise as an alternative to the Swiss bank account:

RevolutWise
Cash withdrawal EUR/CHFFreeUp to 200 CHF free after 1,75%
Cash withdrawal non – EUR/CHFFreeUp to 200 CHF free after 1,75%
Account openingOnlineOnline
Online bankingYes, inc. mobile appYes, inc. mobile app

3. Neon

Neon is a 100% digital Swiss bank and is by far the best innovative bank in Switzerland. The disadvantage of digital banks is that you can’t receive a consultation in the office as it’s with traditional banks. However, you can call or chat with support staff 24/7.

Neon’s bank account is 100% free. Unlike other banks, you won’t pay any management fees, and you don’t need to have a particular balance on your account for this to be valid.

Neon doesn’t offer a Maestro card, unlike standard Swiss banks. But you will get a debit Mastercard, which can be used everywhere in Switzerland and abroad.

Furthermore, Neon has partnered with transfer company Wise to make international transactions inexpensive and fast. At Neon bank, you can choose between various plans:

Neon free

  • It’s totally free; however, you pay 10 CHF per year for a debit card

Neon green

  • Green plan from Neon includes annual fees for account management, but they aren’t high either – about 60 CHF per year or 5 CHF per month. At the same time, it illuminates the fee for a debit card – now it’s free for you.

Features of Neon bank:

  • Free Mastercard
  • CH IBAN
  • Low fees for international transfers
  • Free cash withdrawals
  • Free payment abroad
  • Insurance for balance up to 100,000 CHF
  • Easy-to-use mobile app

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Free cash withdrawals are limited to 2 per month; after that, a 2 CHF fee applies.
  2. Fee of 1,5% applies on withdrawals abroad.
  3. There are some limits on daily cash withdrawals and spending, where you can withdraw about 1,000 CHF in cash, spend about 5,000 CHF in-person shop charges, and 5,000 CHF online. Besides that, your total daily transaction limit is set to 30,000 CHF.

Who can get Neon? Neon is currently only available in Switzerland to Swiss residents; hence, you can’t open an account with them while located outside of Switzerland.

Citizens of the EU living in Switzerland are also eligible for Neon. You can see what documents you need to have in order to open an account with them, depending on your nationality.

Generally, everyone who is paying taxes in Switzerland can open an account with Neon (except US citizens).

4. Migros Bank

Migros is a typical Swiss bank widely available for all residents in Switzerland. With more than 800,000 customers, it’s one of the best traditional banks in the country. Migros is also the cheapest classical bank in Switzerland at the moment.

Features of Migros bank:

  • No monthly fees with a balance of at least 7,500 CHF
  • Free debit card
  • Free Maestro card
  • Unlimited free cash withdrawals in all Migros ATMs
  • Insurance for assets up to 100,000 CHF
  • CH IBAN
  • Good customer service

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Online banking is entirely in the German language
  2. 0,20 CHF fee for incoming payment
  3. 0,30 CHF fee for SEPA transfer
  4. Fees for cash withdrawals in ATMs other than Migros:
  • 2 CHF each in CHF in Switzerland
  • 4 CHF each in EUR in Switzerland
  • 5 CHF each abroad

Nonetheless, you shouldn’t have a problem finding Migros ATMs anywhere in Switzerland, including all Migros Bank, Migros Shops, Migrolino, and Migrol stations.

Migros Bank account for non-residents

As a non-resident, you will face annual fees at Migros. For example, customers from neighboring countries, e.g., Germany or Austria, pay 300 CHF per year.

But this amount can be lowered to 60 CHF annually if they keep a balance above 7,500 CHF in total. Residents of all other countries must pay 360 CHF per year.

Price is where Neon excels! The base price of a checking account with Neon is entirely free! That’s right. You will not pay any management fees! And you do not have to have any amount of money on your account for this to be valid!

Now, not all operations are free. For instance, you will still have to pay for transferring money abroad or receiving money in foreign currencies. But these are exceptional events.

5. UBS 

UBS, or Union Bank of Switzerland, is one of the most popular and oldest Swiss banks out there. You can find one of their 275 branches in most corners of the country and 82 abroad.

A standard account at UBS bank comes with its benefits and disadvantages, especially when it comes to various fees.

To open an account at UBS and in most Swiss banks, you need to be above the age of 20.

Their personal account is great for outgoing and incoming payments, such as your salary or pension.

For someone living in Switzerland, their standard account is quite affordable – a maximum of 9 CHF per month. Yet, if you are living abroad, be ready to pay an additional 360 CHF in annual fees. In some USB branches, fees can be even higher – up to 330 CHF per month.

However, students and youths are exempt from these expenses. Moreover, residents of Germany, France, Italy, and Austria are also exempt from these fees as long as they deposit 500 CHF into their accounts every month.

Features of UBS bank:

  • Free cash withdrawals in UBS ATMs
  • There is no withdrawal limit.
  • Account in CHF or EUR
  • The account opening is free of charge.
  • Low monthly fees, ranging between 3 CHF to 9 CHF per month
  • Free payment is Switzerland
  • Online banking

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Fee for withdrawals in non-UBS ATMs: 2 CHF per transaction
  2. Fee for withdrawals abroad: 5 CHF per transaction
  3. Fee for SEPA transfers is 0,30 CHF per transfer
  4. Fee for non-SEPA transfers is 5 CHF per transfer
  5. Fee for a debit card is 50 CHF per year
  6. Fee for foreign currency payments is fee of 2% of the purchase amount with a minimum of 1 CHF

6. PostFinance

Bank PostFinance is owned by Swiss posts and provides customers with a private account, savings account, and PostFinance card. However, they don’t offer Maestro or V Pay cards. 

As the 5th largest bank in the country, it has a solid database of customers (about 4,2 million).

PostFinance offers two main plans for private banking:

  • Smart that costs 5 CHF per month
  • SmartPlus that costs 12 CHF per month
  • There is no free bank account

The advantages of SmartPlus are free withdrawals at any ATM in Switzerland and free withdrawals abroad.

Features of PostFinance bank:

  • Account management fees are between 5 CHF and 12 CHF per month
  • Account in EUR or CHF
  • Special PostFinance card
  • Free cash withdrawals in PostFinance ATMs
  • Free SEPA transfers
  • Free debit card
  • Standard credit card is included
  • No withdrawal limit
  • The account opening is free of charge.
  • Low monthly fees: 5 CHF per month
  • Free payments is Switzerland
  • Online banking

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Fee for withdrawals in non-PostFinance ATMs: 2 CHF per transaction
  2. Fee for withdrawals abroad: 5 CHF per transaction
  3. Fee for non-SEPA transfers is 2 CHF per transfer
  4. Fee for foreign currency payments is of 1,5% of the purchase in addition to 1 CHF fee

PostFinance card provided by the bank is suitable for cash withdrawals and payment in Switzerland, but it’s not equal to Mastercard, Visa, or even Maestro. Hence, you might experience some difficulties, especially when paying online.

Postfinance bank account for non-residents

Non-residents pay additional annual fees for a bank account at PostFinance. Currently, it’s 300 CHF per year/25 CHF per month for each account opened regardless of customers’ assets or place of residence.

Features your Swiss bank account must include

There are some essential features that each Swiss bank should include, e.g.:

  • Debit card
  • Online banking
  • Cash withdrawal
  • Online payments options
  • Opportunity to receive salary
  • Options to pay bills
  • Money transfers within Switzerland
  • Money transfers abroad
  • Money transfers to the broker
  • Loan or credit options

Consequently, when picking the right bank in Switzerland, make sure you pay attention to their offering.

In the end, it must be simple and useful. You don’t need 25 features, of which you might end up using one or two but paying an extra dollar for unnecessary services.

https://russianvagabond.com/how-to-get-a-loan-in-switzerland/

Swiss banking cards

Which kind of card will you receive at a Swiss bank?

  • Maestro

It’s a card offered by all traditional banks in Switzerland and neighboring countries, e.g., Germany and Austria. With Maestro, you can pay at most shops in Switzerland and Europe, withdraw cash, and make online payments.

However, the latter is rarely available at international online merchants. You should use a debit card instead. Read more about paying online with a Maestro card.

https://russianvagabond.com/can-you-pay-online-with-maestro-card/
  • Debit card

Mastercard or Visa – debit Mastercard is more common than Visa in Switzerland.

  • PostFinance card

Also called the Post Card. This Swiss debit card is issued by the Swiss postal bank (PostFinance) and is widely accepted by Swiss merchants and ATMs. You can also use it to withdraw cash at Swiss post offices and many Swiss supermarkets.

However, online acceptance of the PostFinance card is doubtful. It also cannot be used for making payments outside of Switzerland. But you still can withdraw cash with it outside of Switzerland at ATMs on the Visa PLUS network.

Bank fees

Nowadays, it has become easier to avoid any banking fees. More and more banks are increasingly offering no-annual-fee private accounts.

Swiss banks aren’t an exception. If you are a resident of Switzerland, you will have great chance of getting an account with no monthly fees. Some of them we listed above.

Nonetheless, many banks still have incidental fees e.g. for cash withdrawals or international transactions. So, you need to be careful there and read the terms & conditions before signing for the final provider.

Regarding banking fees in Switzerland, cash withdrawals in Swiss francs at ATMs of your home bank are generally free of charge. In some cases, you can also make free withdrawals at ATMs from partner banks.

A typical fee for cash withdrawals at ATMs of other banks is 2 CHF per withdrawal. But the final term will depend on the particular bank.

If you take out cash abroad, Swiss banks most likely will charge for it. The fee is 5 CHF per withdrawal. Yet, some banks might charge a percentage of the transaction.

Paying with the card is free within Switzerland at most banks. But payments abroad (in foreign currency) can cause a fee of 1,5 CHF, 2 CHF, 2,50 CHF, or 3 CHF francs per transaction.

Some banks charge a percentage, e.g., 1% of the transacted amount. For example, UBS has a 2% fee for payments in foreign currencies.

Only a few Swiss private accounts don’t have any foreign transaction fees, e.g., Neon or Revolut bank.

What do you need to open a Swiss bank account?

1. Identity card, ID, or passport: In any case, the bank must verify the customer’s identity.
2. Legal documents confirming the origin of the money: Due to the fight against money laundering, every bank is obliged to clarify the source of the funds. In case of doubtful origin, each bank reserves the right to refuse a client.
3. Current residence status in Switzerland: Documents and proof of residence status (visa, residence or work permit, B/C permit or settlement permit, etc.).
4. Information about current place of residence: Proof of residence/address, for example, through an official document or recent utility bill as a tenant, etc.

Do you need a Swiss residence permit for a Swiss bank account?

Non-residents can also open a bank account in Switzerland, yet they might face higher annual fees for this privilege – about 300 CHF on average. Besides that, many Swiss banks have additional requirements for applicants from abroad.

The majority of Swiss banks that accept non-resident customers require that you open your account at a branch office in Switzerland to confirm your identity. 

Many banks charge high non-resident fees, which apply in addition to standard account fees. These non-resident fees also apply to Swiss nationals residing abroad.

Besides that, you may need to bring a minimum amount of assets to the bank or subscribe to the bank’s asset management services in order to open a private account.

Generally, it’s much easier to open a local bank account with a Swiss residence permit. But if you don’t have such, there are still some options available.

Read more about opening a bank account as a non-resident in Switzerland in this article.

https://russianvagabond.com/how-to-open-a-bank-account-in-switzerland-from-abroad/

PostFinance, Credit Suisse, and the Aargauischen Kantonalbank are among those who often accept applications from non-residents.

Also, your residence permit plays a role when opening a Swiss bank account. Some banks will accept only particular permits. Here, as well, you have great chances with the postal bank PostFinance. They are obliged to provide essential financial services to all residents.

Therefore, all individuals with Swiss ID can open an account at PostFinance, regardless of their status in Switzerland.

The Schaffhauser Kantonalbank is another bank that accepts customers from around the world, as long as they carry a valid Swiss residence permit or proof of employment in Switzerland.

B or C residence permit

Generally, holders of B and C residence permits won’t have problems opening an account in one of the Swiss banks. There also shouldn’t be any additional fees for you. This rule also applies to diplomats performing their service in Switzerland.

Yet, some Kantonal banks may have stricter requirements. For example, a Thurgauer Kantonal bank doesn’t deal with foreign customers without a permanent residence in Switzerland.

F, N or S residence permits

People with F (admitted refugees), N (asylum seekers), or S (vulnerable persons) residence permits might have a hard time opening a bank account in Switzerland.

Some banks only accept applicants with B or C permits, e.g. Berner Kantonalbank and St. Galler Kantonalbank. F, N, and S permit holders also aren’t able to open an account at Raiffeisen.

Consequently, anyone will need to consult with a bank of choice about whether they will accept them as a customer or not on an individual basis.

Migros Bank, UBS, and Zürcher Kantonalbank inspect applications individually and may in rare instances allow refugees to open accounts. However, refugees and asylum seekers have high chances with PostFinance, Credit Suisse, and Cler.

Your citizenship plays a role

In Switzerland, the customer’s nationality can also be a factor in opening a bank account.

Yes, some Swiss banks might seem a little bit discriminating in their approach. They carefully select their customers depending on their nationality.

For example, one of the largest Swiss banks, UBS, will assist every new applicant in regard to their citizenship. So even if your papers are in order, you might be requested only because of your passport.

At the same time, the Zürcher Kantonalbank also considers your overall profile during the decision-making process.

https://russianvagabond.com/how-to-open-a-bank-account-in-switzerland-from-abroad/

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