Can a credit card be free? – Watch out for rip-offs

Wann ist eine Kreditkarte kostenlos?

Credit cards are one of the cheapest means of payment. But can a credit card be free? – Below we explain what “free” really means and what you should look out for in free credit card offers.

Basically, free does not necessarily mean completely free. But with the necessary caution, there are indeed completely free credit cards.

Definition: Free credit card

A “free credit card” is a term used to describe credit cards for which no annual or monthly fees are charged. This means that the cardholder bears no regular costs for the mere use of the credit card in the sense of owning one.

Such offers are, of course, particularly attractive for people who want to use a credit card for occasional purchases or as security for emergencies without having to pay an ongoing fee.

However, it is advisable to know that a “free” credit card is no guarantee that you will not end up paying any fees. More on this in the following section.

What costs can still be incurred?

Although a credit card is advertised as “free”, various costs can still be incurred, which are often hidden in the details of the terms and conditions. These can be:

Hidden credit card costs
  • Transaction fees: Some credit cards charge fees for certain types of transactions, such as cash withdrawals or currency conversions when used abroad.
  • Late fees: Late payments of statements or going over your credit limit can result in hefty penalty fees.
  • Interest: With a credit card that has an installment facility, interest is charged if the outstanding balance is not paid in full by the due date.
  • Insurance and additional services: Sometimes, additional services that are subject to a fee, such as travel insurance, are automatically offered with the card. Here, you simply have to be careful which boxes you check in the application.
  • Replacement cards and special services: Fees for replacement cards or special customer requests may also apply.

This list is simply to warn you that “free” does not necessarily mean a credit card is completely free. However, you should also not get the impression that a credit card will always be expensive for you. If you take a look at the fees when you apply and pay your bills on time, your card may well be completely free and even save you a lot of money.

Which bank offers a free credit card?

For an overview of the best credit card offers in Switzerland, just take a look at our Swiss credit card comparison, where we have analyzed the best cards for each user category.

As far as free credit cards are concerned, there are several offers in Switzerland. The best-known are:

  1. Migros Bank: Cumulus Credit Card
  2. Cembra: Certo Credit Card
  3. Swisscard: Cashback Cards Duo
  4. Swissbankers: Travel Prepaid Mastercard
  5. Neon: Free Mastercard

All credit cards, whether free or not, have advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking for a card that suits your situation, we recommend that you take a look at the credit card comparison mentioned above.

In Switzerland, you can also have several credit cards without any problems. So if you are paying for your card right now, you can just cancel it and apply for some free ones.

The importance of small print

Small print in the credit card contract

It is crucial to carefully study the small print in the terms and conditions of any credit card. It details all the potential costs associated with using the card. This includes information on fees for foreign transactions, cash withdrawals, late payments, and other relevant costs.

Going through these terms carefully will help you avoid unexpected expenses and ensure that the credit card actually meets your personal requirements.

Conclusion 🎓

A “free” credit card refers to a card with no annual or monthly fees. It is particularly attractive for people who only want to use a credit card occasionally without paying regular fees.

However, despite the “free” label, there may be various hidden costs, such as transaction fees, late payment fees, interest on installment facilities, costs for additional services, and fees for replacement cards or special services. These potential costs are often hidden in the terms and conditions, so it is important to study the small print carefully.

There are several providers of free credit cards in Switzerland, including Migros Bank, Cembra, Swisscard, Swissbankers, and Neon.

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