What’s the cheapest way to pay in Switzerland? – In this article, we take a quick look at the cheapest and most practical payment methods in Switzerland to help you make the best choice in any situation.
Short on time? – Head straight down to the conclusion.
The 5 most used payment methods in Switzerland
1. Cash 💸
Despite the rise of digital payment methods, cash remains a popular choice in Switzerland, especially for smaller expenses such as in cafés, nightclubs, or local markets. Cash transactions are simple and do not require any additional fees. Cash is also a symbol of financial security and privacy in Switzerland. In addition, tipping in cash is much more charming and personal than simply adding something to the bill.
2. Debit cards 💳
Debit cards such as Maestro or VPay are widely used in Switzerland and offer a convenient way to make everyday purchases. Linked directly to your bank account, the cards allow instant payment without the possibility of debt. They are ideal for everyday needs and are accepted almost everywhere. Another advantage of debit cards is that in Switzerland, you always get one for free when you open a bank account. This means that even minors can have a card.
3. Credit cards 💳
Credit cards are Switzerland’s go-to choice for large and online purchases. They not only offer the advantage of being able to make purchases without having immediate access to cash but often also additional benefits such as travel insurance or bonus points.
However, it is essential to be aware of credit card fees and interest rates to avoid unexpected costs. Some credit cards are “free“, but if you don’t pay the bill, it will always be expensive, regardless of the provider. If you don’t have a credit card yet or simply want to find out what the best credit cards in Switzerland are, you are very welcome to take a look at our credit card comparison.
4. Mobile payment apps 📱
Mobile payment solutions such as Twint or Apple Pay are becoming increasingly popular in Switzerland. These apps enable fast, fee-free, and secure transactions directly via your smartphone. They are especially suitable for quick purchases, as they speed up the payment process considerably and are accepted in many stores.
5. Bank transfers 🏦
Bank transfers are a practical solution in Switzerland for expenses such as rent payments or other regular bills. Thanks to the online banking system that has been in use for some years now, transfers can be carried out quickly and easily. Direct debits, in particular, are ideal for recurring payments.
What is the best way to pay in Switzerland? – Our opinion
There is no one payment method that is better than all others in every case. In principle, each payment method mentioned above is not expensive, as there are no or only very small fees.
However, this does not mean you cannot optimize how you spend money. Below, we present our choice of payment method, depending on the type of purchase.
1. Everyday payments, larger purchases, online payments 💳
In everyday life, for large purchases and online shopping, there’s nothing better than credit cards! The main advantage is that, depending on the credit card, you can collect a good amount of points or cashback. You can also use the installment option on your credit card for expensive items, although we advise against this due to the fees.
As far as online payments are concerned, the credit card is great because you are automatically protected against fraud with most providers. It has already happened to me personally that I fell for a scam. The full amount was credited back to me after a simple phone call; that’s what I call service!
As far as payment fees are concerned, credit card providers earn their money with small fees, which they only charge the merchants, not you. This means it is free for you to use (with exceptions, for example, foreign currency payments).
If you are interested in learning more about credit cards, check out our article on credit card history.
1.2. Minors, people at risk of debt 🛑
For minors and people who know that they are not too good at handling the responsibility that credit cards entail, the debit card is the best alternative for the payment methods mentioned above. Here, you can avoid getting into debt and see the deductions immediately in e-banking. Fees for this payment method are extremely uncommon, apart from payments in foreign currencies.
2. Among friends and family 👨👩👧👦
There is hardly anything easier than Twint among friends in Switzerland. As long as the other person also has Twint, you can send money back and forth to each other free of charge for as long and as often as you like. The transfer happens instantly and is extremely simple. An alternative is, of course, good old cash, but this option is only suitable if you are exchanging round amounts. Splitting the bill is a lot more tedious than with Twint.
3. Regular payments 📜
As far as regular payments are concerned, direct debit is definitely the way to go! It can be a bit of a pain to set one up, but then you never run the risk of missing reminders and never have to deal with it again.
4. At fairs, as a tip, etc. 🤝
Cash is and will always be king, even if it’s not used as often as it used to be. Tipping, paying for drinks, placing bets with friends, and so on. Of course, some people also use cash to buy things that they would rather not have on their card statements;)
In Switzerland, the choice of the best payment method depends on the situation. Ultimately, Switzerland offers a variety of practical and inexpensive payment methods for every situation. Here is a brief summary of our top picks:
- 💳 Credit cards are ideal for everyday payments, larger purchases, and online shopping due to the opportunities to collect points or cashback. (You can also have several credit cards without any problems)
- 💳 For minors or those at risk of debt, a debit card is the best alternative to a credit card.
- 📱 Mobile apps such as Twint are perfect for quick transactions between friends and for splitting bills.
- 📜 Direct debit is recommended for regular payments, as you never have to worry about it again once you’ve set it up.
- 💸 Cash remains relevant for tips, fairs, and small expenses.
We hope we have helped you with this overview of the most convenient payment methods in Switzerland. If you have any questions or comments about the article, please feel free to email us at any time via our contact page.