Converting CHF to EUR for holidays in Europe

Hello,

I will go on holiday from Switzerland to somewhere in Europe and was wondering what is the most fee-efficient way of converting some CHF to EUR (in cash) to use once in the destination country? I can think at least of the two following possibilities:

  • extract EUR from the ATM at my local Swiss bank
  • extract EUR from the ATM once arrived at the destination country

What do you fellow mustachians recommend?

Cheers

I think for me the order of efficiency is:

  • p2p exchange with colleagues/friends
  • Schwab debit card at destination.
  • revolut at destination
  • swiss credit card at destination

Depends on the amount you need, but I would use the card (Revolut) to pay wherever I can, and then pull out the amount in necessity again via Revolut, i.e:

Take note that some countries/banks are now “boycotting” Revolut and their ATMs will not ingest it!
I just got unpleasantly surprised in my home country of Croatia :slight_smile:
And had to use the exorbitant non-bank ATMs (some Euronet or such bastards), which charge ~13% (!!) commission on exchange + horrible forex rate.

In that case grabbing it on a local bank ATM via your bank’s debit card is cheaper than using its credit card.

And as @nabalzbhf has said - best option is probably to exchange with a friend/local, and send them money e.g. via Revolut.

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Thanks to both of you for your tips. I will need around 500-1000 EUR max.

Revolut sounds good but I see the two following issues:

  • you can’t pay with credit card everywhere especially in small places
  • ATM free withdrawal with Revolut is limited to £ 200 for it’s standard/free variant

Get a Postcard with the plus account. Withdrawal are free but you pay abit more than Revolut for the exchange.

You could maybe get the “premium” for one month with Revolut and increase that limit.
Or just accept the bit higher costs of withdrawing past-free, it could still be cheaper than from bank’s cards.
500-1000 is not such a huge amount you should lose your sleep over. :slight_smile:

Open an Euro account at your bank (if free)
Use Transferwise to transfer CHF / xchange to EUR (at the same time) & deposit in your EUR account.
Withdraw Euro (cash) from your Euro account in CH (usually free) and take Cash with for your hols.

For higher amounts - open an account at DKB (free) and use Transferwise to transfer CHF there/exchange to EUR at the same time. With your DKB debit card & credit card you have (electronic) free payments all over Euro-zone. Not as “sexy” as Revolut, but no monthly limits, no ever-changing nonsense with legacy companies trying to block Revolut’s rise.

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Can this be done without residency in Germany?

Yes, certainly. I have it myself (and don’t live in D-Land).

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I’ve open a N26 Bank(free version Mastercard) account with a DE Iban.
I use transferwise to send money to this account.

Use it to withdraw(3 per month are free) and pay when I’m in EUR.

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This is probably one of the less efficient ways.

Since you have an IB account, why not convert through IB? This is what I do. I have set up a monthly withdrawal to one of my EUR accounts in the EU. Remember, first withdrawal each month is free at IB.

For smaller amounts (less than 1000 CHF), I use Revolut occasionally.

Great tip, I didn’t know about the first withdrawal for free per month, in fact I never withdrew from my IB account yet :wink: I will keep that in mind.

I now got my Revolut card and just a heads up for all others: the physical card itself is not for free, it costs CHF 5.99. You don’t necessarily need it as you can use the virtual one or apple pay but I thought depending where I am on holiday I might need a real card…

I don’t recall being charged for it.
Is there a “delivery” fee or something alike now?

I remember them having having introduced fees for cards a short while ago (even on the first card).

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Yes, it’s a delivery fee.

See here:

The Standard card delivery fee depends on the chosen delivery method and will be quoted at the time of ordering.

I had mine for free at the time and payd 5.99 later for wife’s card.

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I confirm it is what they call a “delivery” fee. Of course, it is not much compared to others banks which charge you 40-120 CHF for some piece of plastic.

For cash exchanges, find an acquaintance who needs CHF and will exchange CHF for EUR directly P2P at interbank rates or better. This is really your best bet for favorable cash currency exchanges because you cut out the middle man.

Otherwise I would recommend the Coop Depositenkasse for CHF to EUR exchanges, if there is one near you. It was among the top performers in a Swiss bank currency exchange rate comparison we did at moneyland.ch in 2018, and still has some of the best rates from what I’ve seen. You don’t have to open an account as you would with a bank or neobank, so it’s quick and easy. You can find these in most Coop department stores (Coop City).

Neon, Revolut and TransferWise are all decent for smaller euro withdrawals in the eurozone, but in my experience it’s very difficult to find ATMs which don’t charge ATM fees.

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I personally have 2 bank accounts:

  • One in CHF
  • One in EUR

And prior to my holidays I estimate by budget in EUR and convert it using the best alternative on https://www.monito.com/. In the past months, Transferwise was often the best solution.

This didn’t work for me in Italy 3 years ago. I don’t how it works now.

Strange. Did you try several ATMs ? I’m with PF since 4 years +/- and have withdrawn in Italy without particular issues

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