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Travel Money Guide: Switzerland

Get from the ski lodge to lakeside with the right combination of travel money products.

Alpine skiing, fairytale landscapes and gooey cheese fondue combine to offer a once-in-a-lifetime holiday with something for every traveller. But those dream escapes don't come cheap. Here are our insider tips on how to best spend your money in Switzerland and save on ATM and transaction fees.

While the Swiss franc is the official currency, you can get away with using the euro in some places, though the exchange rate may not be as favourable as just using your debit or credit card.

Compare travel money options for Switzerland

There are no prepaid travel cards which allow you to hold Swiss francs, only euros, meaning you can't lock in a favourable rate. Consider a credit card with no foreign transaction fees or a debit card that gives you rebates on international transaction and ATM fees.

1 - 3 of 3
Name Product Foreign currency conversion fee Interest-free period Purchase rate p.a. Annual fee
Latitude 28° Global Platinum Mastercard
Up to 55 days on purchases
Save with 0% international transaction fees on purchases. Plus, complimentary Flight Delay Pass and global data roaming.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
Up to 55 days on purchases
0% for 12 months, then 12.99%
Get 0% p.a. interest on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (with a 2% BT fee). Plus 0% foreign fees and complimentary overseas travel insurance.
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
Up to 55 days on purchases
Get 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 28 months (with a 3% BT fee), ​an ongoing $0 annual fee and 0% foreign transaction fees.
1 - 3 of 3
Name Product Card access Own network ATM fee Monthly Account Fee Internatonal ATM Fee Foreign transaction fee
Westpac Choice
Take advantage of Westpac's Global Alliance and save on overseas ATM fees at over 50,000 locations worldwide with fee-free cash withdrawals.
HSBC Everyday Global Account
Earn 2% cashback on tap and pay purchases.

Great Southern Bank Everyday Edge Account
1 - 2 of 2
Name Product Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Initial Load Fee Reload fee
Wise Travel Money Card

2 free ATM withdrawals per month up to AUD$350, then AUD$1.50 and 1.75% per withdrawal

Hold and spend funds in more than 40 currencies, with competitive exchange rates and $0 fees for the first 2 ATM withdrawals (up to AUD$350) per month.
Cash Passport Platinum Mastercard
USD $2.50, EUR €2.50, GBP £2.00, NZD $3.50, THB ฿80.00, CAD $3.50, HKD $18.00, JPY ¥260.00, SGD $3.50, AUD $3.50, AED 10.00
$0 (via online) or $0 (via branch)

Which one do I choose: Travel card, debit card or credit card?

Whichever option you choose, keep in mind that Visa- and Mastercard-branded cards are accepted in more places than American Express and Diners cards throughout Switzerland. You will be able to see which cards are accepted in different places by looking for the card scheme logo at the point of sale terminal and ATM machines.

Switzerland's economy is based around banking — it's their primary industry — so you won't need to carry a large amount of cash as you can use your card in more places than not, but make sure your card has a chip. This will let you make contactless payments for over the counter purchases and the majority of point of sale terminals use the CHIP rather than the magnetic strip to process the payment.

Travel money options for Switzerland at a glance

Travel money optionProsConsiderations
Debit cards for travel
  • Secured with a chip and a PIN technology
  • Can be easily blocked by your issuer with just a phone call
  • ATMs are 'everywhere' in Switzerland
  • Don't come with a back-up card
  • Linked directly to bank account. This could have security implications if your card goes missing.
  • Fees to consider such as ATM fees
Prepaid travel money cards
  • Allow you to hold multiple foreign currencies at a time
  • Save on currency conversion fees
  • Can be easily blocked by your issuer with just a phone call
  • Come with a back up card and are protected by PIN
  • Money back guarantee for victims of fraudulent transactions
  • Swiss franc cannot be loaded and spent
  • Need to pay a fee to convert your own money into Swiss francs
  • Often charge ATM fees
  • Subjected to currency conversion fees if travel card is used in Switzerland
Credit cards for travel
  • No currency conversion fees
  • Features such as insurance or reward points earning
  • ATM cash withdrawals may attract cash advances and higher fees
  • Rewards program may cost more than they are worth
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

Why we recommend a combination of travel money options

There is no one best travel money product, so you're better off using a combination of the products or strategies detailed on this page. A line of credit gives you peace of mind to cover any unforeseen circumstances; while using a debit card for cash withdrawals and over the counter purchases in Switzerland. A travel card may be suited if you're spending time in countries which use the euro; however, you'll incur fees, which can be avoided if using a different travel money product.

Whether you're heading to Switzerland to hit the slopes or simply to enjoy the culture, there's a bit you need to get in order before you depart. Take the right combination of cards so you can withdraw and spend conveniently and cheaply. If you have questions about travel money for Switzerland, ask us a question using the 'Ask a Question' form below.

Using travel cards, debit cards, credit cards and other options in Switzerland

Travelling with an Australian credit cards

A travel friendly credit card gives you access to a line of credit, and you won't pay for currency conversion when you transact in francs. There are two providers to compare if you're in the market for a credit card to use in Switzerland: The Latitude 28° Global Platinum Mastercard and the Bankwest Platinum credit cards. Both these cards waive the fee for currency conversion. However, making a withdrawal on credit isn't advised as cash advance charges apply. Travel extras such as insurance or an increased earn rate on rewards cards for overseas purchases are other points to consider when you're comparing credit cards to use overseas

  • Tip: Some providers waive cash advance charges when you keep a positive balance and make ATM withdrawals. Find out which providers let you do this and which won't.

Using debit cards

A travel debit card lets you spend and withdraw in Switzerland like you would at home. Find a debit card that waives the international ATM withdrawal fee and you can make free ATM withdrawals when you use an ATM offered by a Swiss bank (banks in Switzerland and Europe do not charge a local ATM operator fee). If you're an ING Orange Everyday account holder, you can also avoid ATM fees and international transaction fees as long as you're depositing a minimum of $1,000 per month into your account and making at least five transactions monthly.

Westpac cardholders can avoid the international ATM fee by using Global Alliance ATMs in Switzerland. There are less than a handful of BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank branches in Switzerland, using the Citibank Plus in Switzerland is the only viable way to avoid paying international ATM fees.

  • Tip: Make sure your debit card has a chip to avoid situations where you card won't be accepted.

Using prepaid travel cards

There are no prepaid travel cards which allow you to hold Swiss francs. Usually, the advantage of these cards is you can hold multiple foreign currencies at a time and save on currency conversion fees. One of the these products may make sense if you're spending your time in the Eurozone (France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain etc) and the UK, but if you're spending the majority of your time in Switzerland, you'll pay for currency conversion when you spend in francs.

The currency conversion fee can be double the charge applied to most credit cards and debit cards. Regardless of which prepaid travel card you choose, you're going to pay for currency conversion, international ATM withdrawals, or both when you use it in Switzerland.

Using traveller's cheques

Traveller's cheques are an outdated travel money product, it's far easier and a much cheaper (using the right product) to get francs by using an ATM. If you do have traveller's cheques, you can cash your cheques at exchange offices at train stations or at a bank. Exchange offices offer the same rates as banks; however they may charge a commission for the transaction.

  • Tip: Banks are open during regular business hours Monday to Friday: 8:30am - 4:30pm.

Taking a cash with you

It's cheaper to get your cash exchanged in Switzerland than it is in Australia, but it's often a good idea to have a small amount on you when you arrive in case you need to take a taxi or get something to eat, or if there are any unforeseen issues with your cards. If you do have Australian dollars or euros you need to exchange in Switzerland, bureaux de change outlets can be found at airports and train stations. You can also change your money at a bank, which will give you the most competitive rate for changing cash, and shouldn't charge a commission either.

  • Tip: Some large retailers will accept euros (the majority of businesses will not). If you use euros, you will get a worse rate than paying with the local currency.

Exchange rate history

The Swiss Franc is one of the most stable currencies in the world, definitely one of the most valuable. Since the Global Financial Crisis, the value of the Australian dollar has dropped against the Swiss franc. The past few years, 1 Aussie dollar is worth about 0.70CHF. If you think the dollar will continue to fall relative to the franc, traveller's cheques and prepaid travel money cards let you lock in a rate.

YearExchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Swiss Franc (CHF) ($1 AUD=)

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 1 January on each year stated above.

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Today's exchange rate AUD to CHF

How many francs do I need to bring to Switzerland?

Yes, the rumours are true, Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world to visit, and, according to some estimates, the most expensive country in the world to live. Although hardly a budget destination, it is possible to save a penny here and there.

$50 - $100 per night
2 star hotel
$100 - $250 per night
5 star hotel
$300 - $800 per night
foodEatSwiss sausage sandwich plus a pint of beer (street food)
Noodle house (restaurant)
$30 per dish
Michelin star restaurant
$100 plus per person
rent-a-bikeDoRent a bike and ride around the city
Rental is free + $30 deposit
Entry to the Kunsthaus Gallery
$35 per person
50-minute massage for 2 at exclusive day spa

*Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change

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7 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    CatherineApril 29, 2019

    Hi there,
    We will be in Switzerland for about a week on a tour.
    We expect to need cash for mainly food, store purchases etc.
    Is it feasible to manage without cash by using credit card only.
    In the past we have achieved this in Scandinavian countries.
    Many thanks

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiApril 30, 2019

      Hi Catherine,

      Thanks for getting in touch! I understand that using cash saves you money in charges. Whether you’re choosing to spend in cash or charge depends on where you are and what you’re spending on in Switzerland this it’s a good idea having a bit of both. I would suggest researching the places you’ll go to Switzerland and check what modes of payment they accept. Hope this helps!


    Default Gravatar
    LesleyApril 27, 2017

    Hi there – we are going to be travelling through France, Switzerland and Italy in June/July and are finding it quite difficult finding a pre-loaded travel card that would include the euro and Swiss Francs.
    We will be in Switzerland for about 10 days. We would very much like to avoid ATM fees!

    Thanks for your help

      HaroldApril 27, 2017Finder

      Hi Lesley,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      If you are travelling overseas you may want to consider travel money options. Your prepaid travel card will support a number of foreign currencies, though the exact ones will depend on the individual card. Look out for cards that support the local currency of your travel destination, otherwise you’ll have to shell out currency conversion fees each time you spend.

      I hope this information has helped.


    Default Gravatar
    KimJanuary 16, 2015

    Thank you Shirley for your response to my question re. converting Australian notes in Switzerland. Now I can take some cash there. Thank you again for the information. Kind regards. Kim

    Default Gravatar
    KimJanuary 13, 2015

    Could anyone please advice. Would the banks in Zurich accept Australian $ (cash) to be exchanged to Swiss Francs? Thank you.

      ShirleyJanuary 14, 2015Finder

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes it possible to convert Australian Cash into Swiss Francs at a bank in Zurich. Please note that Swiss banks tend to levy charges on currency conversion.


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