Credit cards are accepted throughout Switzerland — one of the largest banking centers in the world. And unlike most other European countries where Visa and Mastercard are most popular, in Switzerland you’ll also find widespread acceptance of Discover and American Express credit cards as well.
Despite that, you may still need cash for taxis and small purchases.
Compare travel cards to use in Switzerland
Consider a credit card without foreign transaction fees to save money on purchases made in Switzerland. You can also try a cobranded airline credit card to save money on flights, checked bags, in-flight purchases and lounge access.
If you often travel to Switzerland, you could save money with the following cards:
Swiss International Air Lines and United Airlines are members of the Star Alliance. This means you can earn and redeem United miles on Swiss flights between the US and Switzerland.
You can save money on your purchases abroad as the two United credit cards have no foreign transaction fees.
Potential credit card fees in Switzerland
Depending on your credit card and how you use it, you could incur:
Foreign transaction fees. You could pay up to a 3% fee for every transaction. That’s $150 for every $5,000 spent abroad.
Currency conversion fees. Paying in US dollars at ATMs and vendors could set you up to pay a dynamic currency conversion fee.
Can I incur both fees?
Yes. Avoid this by using a credit card without foreign transaction fees or by using local currency.
Which credit card issuers are accepted in Switzerland?
Switzerland has “high merchant acceptance” for Visa, Mastercard and even Discover. Some merchants may accept American Express, but don’t rely on it.
For cash withdrawals, look for Six Multipay and Post Finance for all cards. Amex cardholders can make cash withdrawals from ATMs of Euronet, Credit Suisse and UBS.
Should I use my credit card to get cash in Switzerland?
In general, carrying cash for taxis and incidentals is wise as not every merchant accepts credit cards. If you make a cash withdrawal, however, you’ll likely incur a cash advance fee and APR from the moment you make the withdrawal. Use a debit card to avoid these fees.
Some ATMs impose a withdrawal limit of 5,000 CHF. Make sure you know your bank’s limit before making a withdrawal so you don’t exceed either maximum amount.
Most taxis in Switzerland only accept cash. You may find a few that do accept cards, however. Ask the driver before getting in their car or ask your hotel to call a taxi that accepts credit cards.
Alternatively, call an Uber ride to pay with your credit card through the app.
Chip and PIN credit cards
Chip and PIN is the most common card payment method in Switzerland. They require a four-digit PIN to make cash withdrawals and to pay for purchases. Be sure to get a PIN from your bank before departing.
Is it safe to use my credit card in Switzerland?
Credit card usage in Switzerland is very safe, but as always, use caution:
Select ATMs with care. ATMs attached to a bank are less likely to have a card skimming device. Also, you can more easily recover your card should it get stuck in the machine.
Take two cards. If something happens to your primary card, you’ll have a backup in your wallet.
Keep your card in sight. Prevent card misuse by keeping an eye on your card when you pay for your purchases.
How to prepare before traveling to Switzerland
Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. This will save you up to 3% of the amount of every transaction made abroad.
Visa and Mastercard are universally accepted. And you can bring along your American Express and Discover cards.
Notify your bank before you travel. Otherwise, your bank may consider your activity outside the US fraudulent and block your card.
Get your bank’s phone number. This can help you resolve any card-related issues fast.
Get a backup card. This can be a lifesaver if you lose your primary card.
Get some cash. Not everyone accepts credit cards. A cash withdrawal could be an option.
Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Switzerland. This includes all major credit card providers, including Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express. Be sure to also carry some cash for incidentals, taxis and small purchases.
Kliment Dukovski is a credit cards writer. He's written over 600 articles to help readers find and compare the best credit cards. Kliment has also written on money transfers, home loans and more. Previously, he ghostwrote guides and articles on foreign exchange, stock market trading and cryptocurrencies.
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