Can any CHF credit card beat a EUR credit card + fx conversion for non-CHF expenses?

Hi,

more or less what the title says. I have scanned through the search results and haven’t really found an up to date answer - most posts are from a while ago and conditions have since changed.

I am from an EU country and live and work in CH. Due to family commitments and a lot of travel, I spend large amounts of my money in EUR, and a solid portion in other currencies around the globe. In CH I mostly use twint or my Maestro bank card, so my credit card is really mostly for foreign currencies (non-CHF).

I had what I thought was a great offer via company benefits with SwissCard (almost no fees for transactions, ATMs, etc.) but was shocked to find out they take a back door for the money grab - their conversion rates are around 2-3% worse than the general MasterCard rates - see for yourself.

So luckily I have an old credit card from my EU bank, which also offers very little fees; for EUR of course there is no exchange rate, for all others it uses the central Visa exchange rate directly (comparable to the MC rate mentioned above). I also have an IBKR account and can thus exchange CHF to EUR at the fx rate and for little fees (I think 2USD per transaction) and withdraw it for free once per month to my EU account.

I have worked through this forum and the usual comparision tools, but it all boils back down to either some fees (1.75% for payments, ATM fees, etc.) or shenanigans with individual, bad exchange rates. So the question is: Does anyone here know a CHF credit card that can beat or keep up with the manual exchange and an almost feeless EU credit card? I am willing to settle for 0.5%-1% loss to save me the hustle of constantly converting money, but if I am not missing anything it looks super grim for Swiss travellers?

All the best, and take care!

Credit from a Swiss bank? Probably not.
Yuh’ debit should use your foreign currency balance and Neon charges Mastercard rates.

Edit: …unless you’re prepared to pay yearly fees or, maybe, get them waived due to being a „good customer“. Should have added that.

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It should be other way around.

:rofl:

Options are Neon (simplest), Yuh (expensive withdrawals abroad), Revolut, DKB (unlimited cash withdrawals).

Free with free Revolut account up to 1250 CHF per month.

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UBS key4 credit cards use the Mastercard reference rate with a 0.5% surcharge and there are no foreign transaction fees for paying with the card. You also get 0.2% back in form of KeyClub points.

However, the card has monthly or yearly fees and withdrawals at ATMs are expensive (as is common with credit cards). Without a UBS banking package it’s CHF 200 per year for the standard card, with a regular UBS banking package it’s an extra CHF 6 per month. If you have a high volume of foreign transactions, it may be worth it compared to the regular UBS credit cards (> 3% total fees for foreign transactions).

Unless you anyway want or have a UBS banking package and value a real credit card, you’re probably better off using a debit card from Neon or Revolut for foreign transactions.

NO!

Don’t just use legacy banks’ debit cards abroad.
Many (most?) of them charge per-transaction fees that can be worse than credit cards, e.g.:

Maestro-Karte CHF | Schaffhauser Kantonalbank
https://www.akb.ch/documents/30573/89695/leistungen-preise-privatkunden.pdf

CHF 1.50 per transaction. And that’s from border canton banks.

UBS seems to be 2% with a 1 CHF minimum

.

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Fair point! I meant using credit cards with Cashback in Switzerland and Fintech cards (which all seems to be debit cards) abroad.

Hi, thanks for the quick reply.

As far as I can see yuh’ will always incur 0.95% for the exchange, either before in the account or when using the card. Also additionally 5CHF for ATM usage abroad.

Neon itself charges between 0.8%-1.7% fees (ATM a flat 1.5%), and additionally costs at least 60CHF a year?

Adding to that, both are debit cards, which to my knowledge can still be a bit of a hassle whenever it is about blocking money, especially for rental cars or hotels.

Also agreed to the point about cantonal banks, 1.5CHF per payment is a killer. My girlfriend used hers to pay at every little grocerie store abroad because she didn’t know, suddenly you look at 50% fees :smiley:

I will work through Revolut tonight when I get home, or does anyone have a rundown? So far I see interbank rates without any surcharges (nice!), but do I need to pre-exchange them before traveling or is it an automatic process? Also only 400CHF free at abroad ATMs (afterwards 2%) which is a killer e.g. in the US. Any other fees (for payments, etc. that I missed?). Their higher packages have substantial monthly fee’s which matter as I only need it for the credit card (I have IBKR + local bank for all else).

I must admit, so far DKB + changing CHF-EUR at IBKR seems unbeatable, and by quite a margin :frowning:

This is for bank transfers in foreign currency (meaning EUR). Card payments in foreign currency are debited using Mastercard exchange rate without a markup.

Yes.

If I would to keep only one Fintech app, that would be Revolut.

It is better to preexchange. There is a markup of 0.5% when exchanging during weekends (markets are closed), so a nice little tourist trap. But account debits for card payments are also converted automatically.

200 CHF, any ATM.

Change at Revolut instead for free and transfer EUR to DKB. That’s what I do.
And as you can use a credit card to top up CHF balance, this is how you get your foreign currency on a credit :slight_smile:

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With EUR it is easy, exchange at Revolut/IBKR and transfer to your YUH account. Once you have EUR at Yuh and pay in EUR, your EUR account is debited.

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A. Use Wise or Revolut for EUR spending. Neon if you want a full-package solution for your Swiss bank account and foreign spending.
B. Open a EUR account with a debit card (i.e. N26 free account). Use a currency broker like Exchangemarket to exchange francs for euros. Place the euros into your EUR account, and use the linked EUR debit card for spending in euros. This will work out even cheaper than neobanks, but requires a little more effort.

If it has to be a credit card (e.g. you need a line of credit), then the new Migros Cumulus credit card is an option. No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Migros Bank exchange rates apply.

Another tip: open a joint DKB account for you and your girlfriend :rofl:

No, actually the standard account is free. I use it as my main and only bank account.

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Is it? Can’t you use a card to pay most things in the U.S. (and your 400 CHF allowance for the obligatory tipping)?

Thanks for your continuing replies.

So the Revolut CHF-EUR and moving DKB approach pretty much confirms my theory that EU credit cards are superior :smiley: In the end it doesn’t matter whether you use IBKR or Revolut, I do not mind the tiny fees for fx conversion and I use IBKR for a lot of other stuff so I wanna avoid having too many tools and apps.

The Yuh’ approach using Revolut/IBKR to exchange is also exactly the same, no? At that point I might as well use DKB or any EU credit card. My hunt was for something native that rids me of the external currency conversion.

@Daniel: Yeah, (B) is exactly my approach that I put up for discussion here, but it seems to be the consensus.

@San_Francisco maybe the US is a bad example, but I have been to quite a bit of places where cash is still king and once you start paying some hotels, restaurants and especially tours/safaris/dives in cash you quickly need to be able to acquire local currency fast. Plus a safety amount is always recommended, and all in all you will beat the 200 CHF allowance (I stand corrected) super fast.
Funnily enough, even in Germany you will need a bit of EUR cash to get through life…

My experience as well. A lot of my spending goes to small businesses, and many if not most of these only take cash. That’s why I find having a EUR account with a debit card useful (for euro withdrawals), as long as you exchange CHF into EUR at a good rate.

The Wise/Revolut approach is most probably a pragmatic approach.
I’m using Revolut a lot to convert from CHF to EUR, USD and occasionally GBP, for payment + cash withdrawal in EUR countries (Germany, France) and to send money to bank accounts abroad.
If you’re mindful of some details, the exchange rate is as good as it gets with a simple approach. And I’ve yet to encounter issues with acceptance or cash withdrawal from ATMs.
Cheers, J.

Neobanks are definitely the simpler option, especially if you travel to multiple countries with different currencies. I use Wise for my (relatively infrequent) foreign spending and am completely satisfied.

But if you exchange fairly large amounts of francs into euros every year and make a lot of cash withdrawals, the CHF and EUR account combination with e.g. Exchangemarket as the currency intermediary is often cheaper.

Example:

Exchange rate Wise: EUR 1 = CHF 0.9785 (01.09.2022)
Exchange rate Exchangemarket: EUR 1 = CHF 0.9827 (01.09.2022)
Currency exchange fee Wise: CHF 3.98 (0.4%)
Currency exchange fee Exchangemarket: No fee
Final exchange Wise: CHF 996.02 for EUR 1000
Final exchange Exchangemarket: CHF 983.30 for EUR 1000

Fees for cash withdrawal Wise EUR 1000: EUR 14 (1.75% of EUR 800)
Fees for cash withdrawal N26 Standard EUR 1000: EUR 0 (3 free withdrawals per month in Germany, EUR 2 per additional withdrawal)

Fees for transfers within SEPA region Wise EUR 1000: EUR 0.37 (from euro sub-account). CHF 4.83 (from CHF sub-account).
Fees for transfers within SEPA region N26 Standard EUR 1000: EUR 0

So compared to the Exchangemarket and N26 combination, using Wise costs around CHF 12.72 for exchange, EUR 14 more for cash withdrawals, and either EUR 0.37 or CHF 4.83 more for bank transfers in the SEPA region.

A lot comes down to what kind of transactions you make, but the broker option already saves around 1.2% on currency exchange costs alone. If you change, say, 10,000 francs into euros each year, that adds up to a pretty penny.

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